Vegetable Guide

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Vegetable guideThis vegetable guide will help you buy vegetables that will taste great. It will also teach you how to store vegetables so they last longer for better taste and texture. The Try World Recipes vegetable guide is a free resource. We will continue to update it and add more and more vegetables to the guide.

Artichokes:

  • Buying –
    • Artichokes are available year-round; peak season is March through May. Select artichokes that are heavy for their size and have leaves that are tightly closed. Slight brown discoloration may be due to frost and does not affect the quality of the artichoke. Avoid artichokes with spreading leaves and a lot of brown areas
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed artichokes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Asparagus:

  • Buying –
    • Asparagus is available February through late June; peak season is April through May. Select small straight stalks with tightly closed, compact tips. Spears should be smooth and round. Green asparagus should have bright green stalks, while the tips may have a slight lavender tint. White asparagus should have straight, firm stalks.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed asparagus in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 4 days (2 days for white asparagus). Another way to store asparagus is to cut about ¼ inch from the bottoms of the unwashed spears. Place upright in a large glass or pitcher. Add about an inch of water. Cover with a plastic food storage bag. Store in the refrigerator. Check and change water as needed. To freeze, blanch for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Beans:

  • Buying –
    • Green and wax beans are available year-round; peak season is from July through October. Select brightly colored, straight, smooth pods that are unblemished. Beans should be crisp and have a firm, velvety feel. Seeds inside the bean should be small.
    • Fresh lima beans are available from June through September. The Fordhook lima bean variety is larger than the baby lima bean. Select pods that are full, crisp and free of blemishes.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed green and wax beans in a sealed plastic bag or covered container in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 days.
    • Store unwashed, unshelled lima beans in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 days.

Beets:

  • Buying –
    • Beets are available June through October; peak season is June through August. Select firm, deep-red, round beets with unwilted green tops. The skin should be smooth, unblemished and unbroken. Small and medium-sized beets are usually the most tender (maximum size should be about 2 in.). Beet greens should have a reddish tint.
  • Storage –
    • Remove greens 2 in. from beets. If you plan on using the greens, store separately in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store uncooked beets in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for about 2 weeks. Freeze cooked beets for up to 1 year.

Bok Choy:

  • Buying –
    • Bok choy is available year-round. Select bunches with firm white stalks and crisp leaves. Avoid bunches with brown spots on stalks.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed bok choy in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

 

Broccoflower:

  • Buying –
    • Broccoflower is available year-round; peak season is October through February. Select firm, solid heads that are heavy for their size. Avoid those with brown spots.
  • Storage –
    • Place unwashed Broccoflower in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 4 days.

Broccoli Rabe:

  • Buying –
    • Broccoli rabe is available year-round; peak season is fall through spring. Select bunches with crisp, bright green leaves. Avoid ones that have wilted leaves, leaves with holes or yellowed flower buds. Smaller leaves are more tender with a milder flavor.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed broccoli rabe in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 days.

Broccoli/Broccolini:

  • Buying –
    • Broccoli is available year-round. Select firm but tender stalks of broccoli with compact, dark green or slightly purplish florets. Select firm stalks of Broccolini with compact, dark green florets.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed broccoli or Broccolini in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer up to 4 days. Blanch 3-5 minutes before freezing. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Brussels Sprouts:

  • Buying –
    • Brussels sprouts available September through May; peak season is October through February. Select small, firm, tightly closed heads that have a bright green color.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed Brussels sprouts in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 days. Blanch 3-5 minutes before freezing Freeze for up to 1 year.

Cabbage, Green or Red:

  • Buying –
    • Cabbage is available year-round. For green cabbage, select round, compact, solid heads that are heavy for their size. Cabbage heads will vary in size, but the leaves should be tight, smooth and unblemished. Red cabbage heads are not as compact as green cabbage heads. The color should be a reddish-purple.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed cabbage in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Cabbage, Napa:

  • Buying –
    • Napa cabbage is available year-round. Select heads that are compact with crisp, fresh-looking leaves.
  • Storage –
    • Napa cabbage can be used raw or cooked. Remove outer leaves or any wilted leaves. Rinse in cold water. Cut according to recipe directions.

Carrots:

  • Buying –
    • Carrots are available year-round. Select crisp, firm, smooth, well-shaped carrots with deep orange color. Smaller carrots are tender and sweet. Carrots sold in bunches with fern-like green tops are fresher than those sold in plastic bags but are not always available.
  • Storage –
    • Trim tops and roots when present. Store unwashed, unpeeled carrots in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for 1-2 weeks. Blanch 3-5 minutes before freezing. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Cauliflower:

  • Buying –
    • Cauliflower is available year-round; peak season is October through March. Select firm, solid white or creamy-colored heads that are heavy for their size. The florets should be clean and tightly packed. The surrounding jacket leaves should be fresh and green. Orange, purple and green cauliflower can be handled and prepared in the same way as white cauliflower.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed cauliflower in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days. Blanch 1-2 minutes before freezing. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Celery:

  • Buying –
    • Celery is available year-round. Select firm, crisp ribs without any blemishes. The leaves should be green, not yellowed or wilted.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed celery in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Corn:

  • Buying –
    • Corn is available May through August; peak season is July through August. Select corn that has fresh green, tightly closed husks with dark brown, dry (but not brittle) silk. The stem should be moist but not chalky, yellow or discolored. Ears should have plump, tender, small kernels in tight rows up to the tip. Kernels should be firm enough to resist slight pressure. A fresh kernel will spurt “milk” if punctured.
  • Storage –
    • Store unshucked ears in opened plastic bags in the refrigerator crisper drawer and use within 2 days. Blanch corn on the cob for 6-9 minutes and whole kernel corn for 5-6 minutes before freezing. Freeze for up to 1 year.

Eggplant:

  • Buying –
    • Eggplant is available year-round; peak season is July through September. Select a firm, round or pear-shaped, heavy eggplant with a uniformly smooth color and glossy taut skin. The eggplant should be free from blemishes and rust spots with intact green caps and mold-free stems.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed eggplant in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 days.

Fennel:

  • Buying –
    • Fennel is available August through April. Select fennel with creamy white bulbs, firm straight stalks and bright green fronds. Avoid withered bulbs or those with brown spots or yellowing. Smaller bulbs are more tender.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed fennel is the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 4 days.

Garlic:

  • Buying –
    • Garlic is available year-round. Select garlic heads that are firm and plump. Avoid those with signs of sprouting and heads that are shriveled or soft.
  • Storage –
    • Store garlic in a cool, dark, well-ventilated dry place for several weeks. Do not store in the refrigerator unless it has been peeled, sliced or chopped.

Greens:

  • Buying –
    • Greens are available year-round (individual varieties have their own seasons). Select fresh crisp greens with a bright color. Avoid those with withered, yellow or blemished leaves or stems.
  • Storage –
    • Remove any ties before storing greens. Discard any yellow or bruised leaves. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for up to 3 days.

Jicama:

  • Buying –
    • Jicamas are available year-round. Select smaller ones, as the large ones tend to be woody and fibrous. Choose firm, unblemished tubers with thin skins.
  • Storage –
    • Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. Once cut, wrap in plastic wrap and use within 1 week.

Kohlrabi:

  • Buying –
    • Kohlrabi is available year-round; peak season is June through July. Select small (no larger than 3 in.), firm, pale green bulbs. The bulbs should have tender skins; the leaves should appear fresh and crisp.
  • Storage –
    • Trim leaves and root ends. Store unwashed kohlrabi in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days. If using the greens, store separately in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Leeks:

  • Buying –
    • Leeks are available year-round. Select young, straight, cylindrical stalks with moist, pliable green upper leaves. The white bulbs should extend 2 to 3 in. above the roots; diameter should not exceed 1-1/2 in.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed, untrimmed leeks loosely wrapped in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Mushrooms:

  • Buying –
    • Mushrooms are available year-round (individual varieties have their own seasons). Select mushrooms with fresh, firm, smooth caps with closed gills. Avoid mushrooms with cracks, brown spots or blemishes or ones that are shriveled or moist.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed, loose mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 5-10 days, depending on the variety. Keep packaged mushrooms wrapped in their package. Moisture speeds spoilage in mushrooms.

Okra:

  • Buying –
    • Okra is available year-round in Southern states and from April to November in the North; peak season is June through November. Select young, tender, unblemished, bright green pods less than 4 in. long. The pods may be smooth or ridged, should snap easily and should not have any hard seeds. The tips should bend under slight pressure.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed okra in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 days.

Onions:

  • Buying –
    • Onions are available year-round (individual varieties have their own seasons). Select firm onions that have dry, papery skins with glove-shaped necks. Avoid those with soft spots, blemishes or green sprouts.
    • Pearl onions are small, about 1 in. in diameter, are generally white but may be yellow or red and are sold in pint containers. Red onions have a stronger flavor than yellow and are generally used raw or for grilling. Their color fades when cooked. Sweet onions are mild, sweet and juicy. They are used raw and can be cooked. Yellow onions range in size from small to large and are the common cooking onion. White onions are milder in flavor than yellow and are frequently used in Mexican cuisine.
  • Storage –
    • Store onions in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to 3 weeks.

Onions, Green:

  • Buying –
    • Green onions are available year-round. Select green onions with bright green tops, white bulbs and short roots. Avoid ones with dry, withered or slimy greens.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed green onions in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 1-2 weeks.

Parsnips:

  • Buying –
    • Parsnips are available year-round; peak season is fall through winter. Select firm parsnips with a uniform shape. Avoid ones that have cracks and blemishes or are shriveled. Avoid large parsnips, since they might be tough.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed parsnips in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Peas:

  • Buying –
    • Green peas are available year-round; peak season is May through June. Select peas in their pods for maximum freshness. Choose ones that are crisp and firm and have a bright green color. Avoid large pods or those with thick skin, which indicates they are past mature.
  • Storage –
    • Keep unwashed, unshelled green peas in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 days.

Peas, Snow and Sugar Snap:

  • Buying –
    • Snow peas are available year-round. Sugar snap peas are generally available in spring and fall. Select snow peas that are flat, are about 3 in. long and have a light green color with a shine appearance. Select sugar snap peas that have crisp, plump-looking dark green pods. Avoid dry or moldy pods.
  • Storage –
    • Keep unwashed snow or sugar snap peas in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 days.

Peppers, Chili:

  • Buying –
    • Chili peppers are available year-round. Select peppers with firm, smooth, glossy skin. Avoid those that are shriveled or have soft spots. Heat level ranges include mild, (Anaheim, Banana, or Cubanelle), moderately hot (ancho or pasilla), hot (jalapeno), hotter (Serrano) and fiery (habanero).
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed, fresh chili peppers wrapped in paper towels in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Peppers, Sweet:

  • Buying –
    • Sweet peppers are available year-round; peak season is March through October. Select firm peppers with smooth, shiny skin and bright colors. Avoid those that are shriveled or have soft spots.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed bell peppers in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days.

Potatoes:

  • Buying –
    • Potatoes are available year-round (individual varieties have their own seasons). Select well-shaped, firm potatoes that are free from cuts, decay, blemishes or green discoloration under the skin. Avoid sprouted or shriveled potatoes.
  • Storage –
    • Store potatoes in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to 2 months. Do not store with onions or in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin:

  • Buying –
    • Pumpkins are available in the autumn months. Select pumpkins that have firm, blemish-free rinds and are bright orange in color.
  • Storage –
    • Store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. A cut pumpkin may be stored in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Rutabaga:

  • Buying –
    • Rutabaga is available year-round; peak season is fall through winter. Select a firm, solid rutabaga that feels heavy for its size. Avoid those with scars and bruises. For best flavor, select medium to small ones.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed rutabaga in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks.

Shallots:

  • Buying –
    • Shallots are available year-round. Select firm, plump shallots. Avoid those with soft spots, a shriveled appearance or green sprouts.
  • Storage –
    • Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to 1 month.

Spinach:

  • Buying –
    • Spinach is available year-round; peak season is late spring and early summer. Select crisp, dark green, tender leaves. Avoid yellowed or wilted spinach.
  • Storage –
    • Keep unwashed spinach in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 5 days.

Squash, Summer:

  • Buying –
    • Summer squash are available year-round; peak season is late summer through early fall. Select firm, plump squash with bright, smooth skin. Baby squash are a smaller version of their counterparts and are harvested when they are young.
    • Zucchini is available with green and yellow skin. Yellow summer squash is available with a crookneck (one end is narrower and has a slight bend) or straight neck. Pattypan is a small, round, squat squash with a scalloped edge; generally they are pale green or white. Sunburst is a bright yellow pattypan with a green stem.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed summer squash in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 4 days.

Squash, Winter:

  • Buying –
    • Winter squash is available year-round; peak season is October through December. Select squash that is heavy for its size. The shells should be hard with a deep color. Avoid those with cracks or soft spots.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed winter squash in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to 4 weeks.

Sweet Potatoes:

  • Buying –
    • Sweet potatoes are available year-round; peak season is November. Select sweet potatoes with a thin, smooth skin and tapered ends that are heavy for their size. Avoid ones with shriveled skin, soft spots or bruises. Handle gently to avoid brushing.
    • There are two main types of sweet potatoes. The familiar, moist, orange-fleshed sweet potato and the starchier, drier, yellow-fleshed sweet potato.
  • Storage –
    • Store sweet potatoes in a dark, cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to 1 week.

Tomatoes:

  • Buying –
    • Tomatoes are available year-round; peak season is summer through early fall.
  • Storage –
    • Keep unwashed tomatoes at room temperature until ripe. Store out of direct sunlight. Tomatoes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tomatillos:

  • Buying –
    • Tomatillos are available year-round. Select firm, dry, green tomatillos with husks that tightly surround the fruit.
  • Storage –
    • Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 3 weeks.

Turnips:

  • Buying –
    • Turnips are available year-round; peak season is fall through winter. Select turnips that are firm, unblemished and heavy for their size. Light ones may be woody. Any attached greens should be bright and fresh looking. Greens can be removed and cooked separately.
  • Storage –
    • Store unwashed turnips in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to 1 week.