Fresh Vegetables: Buying, Storing, and Cooking

Kale
Grab a basket! We'll show you how to select and store a bumper crop of fresh vegetables. Plus, we'll point the way to one of our favorite vegetable recipes for cooking each one on the list.

Tomatoes

Get them while you can! Whether you like them fruity and sweet or tart and tangy, there's no substitute for ripe, juicy, in-season tomatoes.

• Peak Tomato Season: June through September.

• Look For: Fragrant tomatoes that are firm, richly colored, and heavy for their size.

• Store: In a single layer at room temperature. Use within a few days.

Beets

A little bit earthy, a little bit sweet, beets rank among the most richly colored fresh vegetables.

Peak Beet Season: June through October.

Look For: Small to medium beets that are smooth and firm with crisp, bright greens.

Store: In an airtight container in the refrigerator up to three weeks. 

Corn

White corn kernels are more mild and sweet than the full-flavor yellow kernels. Choose a hybrid -- with yellow and white kernels -- for best-of-both-worlds flavor. 

Peak Corn Season: May through September.

Look For: Ears that are bright green with tight-fitting husks and golden-brown silks. 

Store: Corn is best cooked the day it's purchased. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator up to one day.

Peas

Few fresh vegetables are as tender and sweet as freshly picked and shelled peas.

Peak Pea Season: Midspring through early summer.

Look For: Crisp pods that are plump and bright green. Some blemishes are OK.

Store: In an airtight container in the refrigerator up to three days.

Broccoli

These deep-green stalks offer a nutty and cabbagelike flavor that really comes out when roasted. 

• Peak Broccoli Season: April through October. 

• Look For: Richly colored broccoli with tightly closed buds and crisp leaves.

• Store: Unwashed in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator up to five days.

Everyone will ask for seconds when you learn the best way to cook broccoli. We'€™ve got cooking tips that will convert even the pickiest eaters.

The Best Way to Cook Broccoli

Looking to get more fresh vegetables in your family's diet? You'll get even your pickiest eaters to say "yes, please" to broccoli when it's cooked the right way.

Brussels Sprouts

These cuties look like little heads of cabbage -- and they taste a bit like cabbage, too, though they're generally more mild and nutty.

Peak Brussels Sprouts Season: Late August through March.

Look For: Small, bright green sprouts with compact heads free from blemishes.

Store: Unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Asparagus

Few fresh vegetables say "spring" like asparagus. The seasonal favorite brings both earthy and bright flavors in every irresistible stalk. 

Peak Asparagus Season: February to June.

• Look For: Bright green stalks with fresh, tightly closed tips. 

• Store: Upright in a tall container filled with 1 inch of water in the refrigerator for three to four days. 

Enjoy a side dish of asparagus with your next meal. We show you how to cook asparagus to a crisp, flavorful finish.

Perfectly Cooked Asparagus in Under 7 Minutes

See how to prep and cook fresh asparagus spears in no time flat!

Cauliflower

Mark Twain called it "cabbage with a college education." Indeed, cauliflower's flavor is sophisticated, bringing subtle nutty notes to the mix. 

• Peak Cauliflower Season: Available year-round, but best in autumn months.

• Look For: Firm heads with compact florets and no signs of browning. 

• Store: In an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator for three to five days.

Green Beans

The mild veggie flavor of green beans comes through best when they're at their freshest.

• Peak Green Bean Season: May to October.

• Look For: Slender, crisp, brightly colored beans that are free from blemishes.

• Store: In an airtight container in the refrigerator up to five days.

Summer Squash

Summer squash are relatively mild when compared to other fresh vegetables. Perk them up with plenty of herbs and spices.

• Peak Summer Squash Season: Early to late summer.

• Look For: Smaller squash that are lightly colored with no blemishes.

• Store: Unwashed in the refrigerator up to five days. 

Winter Squash

Most winter squash have inedible rinds -- it's the rich, sweet flesh inside that you use for cooking. The exception is the cucumber-shape delicata squash; its tender flesh is edible (though many diners prefer not to eat it).

Peak Squash Season: Early fall through the winter months.

Look For: Squash that is free of cracks and bruises.

Store: In a cool, dry place up to two months (delicata has a shorter shelf life -- store up to three weeks). 

Parsnips, Turnips, and Rutabagas

Turnips can have a peppery bite, especially when more mature. Rutabagas and parsnips are naturally more sweet.

• Peak Season: November through March for parsnips; September through March for rutabagas; October through March for turnips.

• Look For: Vegtables that have smooth skin and are heavy for their size. Sometimes these fresh vegetables are covered with a wax coating to extend storage. Cut off this coating before cooking.

• Store: In the refrigerator up to two weeks.

Potatoes

Whether creamy or starchy, potatoes are among the most popular (and versatile!) root vegetables of all.

Peak Potato Season: Many varieties are available year-round. Look for new potatoes from spring to summer.

Look For: Firm potatoes with no green spots, soft spots, wrinkles, or sprouting. 

Store: In a cool, dark place up to one month. Use new potatoes within three days.

Sweet Peppers

Red and yellow sweet peppers are simply green peppers that have been allowed to ripen longer. All have a mild, sweet flavor with a crisp yet juicy flesh.

Peak Sweet Pepper Season: July through September.

Look For: Peppers with shiny skin that are firm, richly colored, and heavy for their size.

Store: In an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Kale

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, whose members also include broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Kale's flavor is mildly reminiscent of all those fresh vegtables, but with a pleasant bitterness all its own.

Peak Kale Season: December through February.

Look For: Deeply colored leaves in small bunches; avoid yellow and limp leaves.

Store: First, wash in cold water and pat dry. Refrigerate in a plastic bag up to three days (longer storage increases its bitterness).

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