how to pick vegetables

Photo: Yelena Skripnicova 



They should be firm, shiny, and brightly coloured.

If you plan to eat them straight away, choose those that are bright yellow, with little bruises. If you’re buying a few days ahead, pick those that are mainly green with a tinge of yellow.

They should be glossy and full. Pick those with the stems attached, as they’ll keep for longer than without.

Pick bunches that look quite plump, and most of the grapes should still be attached to the stem. 

They should feel heavy in the hand, and firm, just slightly yielding. 

Choose heavy fruits that have a nice shine. The skin should be fairly smooth without too many pockmarks, and dents are a definite no-no. They should feel firm to touch, but not rock-hard. 

Avoid the ones that are beginning to feel a bit mushy. For kiwis, you want them firm, and just a little yielding. 

The surface should be smooth and even. You want the melons to be heavy, as that’s indication of juiciness. 

The leaves should look fresh, instead of dry and brown. Pick up the fruit and give it a whiff – it should be aromatic, and it should feel heavy too. 

The strawberries should be uniformly red without patches of yellow. Fragrant strawberries are usually sweeter. Inspect the punnet from all sides to watch out for crushed or mushy strawberries, or signs of mould. 


The stalks should be smooth, straight, and be of a deep green hue. Tips should be closed.

The stalks should be firm and smooth, and the florets should be tight and dark green. The leaves should also be dark green. 

Opt for bright orange carrots over paler ones. The skin should be smooth, and the carrots should definitely feel firm. 

Choose the bundles that are light to medium green, preferably with fresh-looking leaves at the top. Skip those with bruises on the stalks. 

Pick the ones that are heavy for their size, with tight florets, and free of spots and blemishes. 

When it comes to corn, look out for green husks instead of yellowing or brown husks. The kernels below should look plump and meaty.

If buying garlic cloves by the bundle, skip the ones with shruken skin or those that have gone soft. For garlic bulbs, choose those that are firm, with the papery skin still intact.

If possible, check that the gills on the underside are tight, and the caps are closed, or just slightly open, around the stems. 

They should be firm and heavy, with dry, paper skins. Softness or moisture is not a good sign, and you should also avoid onions that are beginning to sprout.

Look for tomatoes that are bright red with smooth, wrinkle-free skin. It should feel plump but not rock-hard.

You want bundles with dark-green leaves. If they look limp or wilted, skip.