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Summer Produce in Indiana

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020) recommend increasing fruits and vegetables in the U.S. diet. In summertime, you can find fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, roadside stands, and grocery stores across Indiana. Use the following tips to select, prepare, and store these healthy foods.

Carrots and tomatoes

Select: Look for bright orange carrots with a smooth skin. Try picking medium-sized carrots that taper at the ends. Clip the greens as soon as you arrive home to avoid moisture loss. Tomatoes with the strongest tomato aroma will have the richest taste.  Tomatoes should also be firm with taut skin and heavy for their size. The outside should be free from bruising.

Prepare: Carrots should be thoroughly washed in cold water and scrubbed to remove oil contaminants. Peel carrots to remove outer layer, then slice as desired and serve cooked or raw. Tomatoes should be washed in cold water before use. For salads and sandwiches, slice a tomato horizontally (just lay the tomato on its side and slice down) to prevent the juice and seeds from leaking out.

Store: Store carrots in plastic bags separate from the greens and place in the refrigerator crisper. Carrots will last for a few weeks, while the greens will last only a few days. Allow tomatoes to remain at room temperature. Refrigeration will cause them to lose their flavor and become grainy.

Cantaloupe and grapes

Select: Select cantaloupes that are free from bruises and evenly shaped with no soft spots or cracks. Cantaloupes should have a light brown netting that stands out from their underlying smooth skin. If the stem is still attached, it was picked too early. Also, ripe cantaloupes will have a mildly sweet fragrance. Look for firm, plump grapes that are rich in color and firmly attached to their stem. Fully ripe grapes are soft and tender. Don’t purchase those that have brown spots or are shriveled and sticky.

Prepare: Wash the outside of the cantaloupe with running water or a wet cloth to remove any remaining dirt. Cantaloupe may be sliced as desired once the seeds are removed. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Clean grapes under a gentle spray of water, drain, and pat dry.

Store: Cantaloupes continue to ripen off the vine, so if bought ripe, eat as soon as possible. Cantaloupe can be stored in the refrigerator crisper for up to five days. Fresh grapes will be good to eat for two to three days when stored in a covered container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Pasta Salad (yield: 12 servings)

Ingredients: 3 c. uncooked pasta, ½ c. chopped celery, 1 chopped bell pepper, ½ c. diced carrot, ½ c. chopped broccoli, 1/3 c. mayonnaise, 1 ½ Tbs. garlic powder, and ¼ tsp. black pepper

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and place in bowl or pan, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, and cool in refrigerator before serving.

Source: Purdue Ed Store HHS-755-W

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