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Selecting fruits and vegetables

July 07, 1998

Fruit and vegetable lovers, it's time to take a stand.

Summer's succulent bounty is cropping up at area farmers' markets, produce counters and roadside tables.

This raises an important question: Should you pull back the husks on corn to see what the kernels look like?

--cont from lifestyle--

It's best to ask first, says Lynn F. Little, family and consumer sciences extension educator for University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.

Sometimes vendors post signs telling customers not to peel back the husks, Little says. Many have a shucked ear on display as a sample.

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When customers at Monica Marker's stand ask to pull away the husk, she says yes. Marker is market master at Washington County Farmers' Market, and she and her husband, Bill, grow a variety of vegetables and fruits at Marker Farms in Gapland.

"It is like buying a pig in a poke; you want to see what you're getting," Marker says.

She says to use good judgment, as she doesn't want a customer to peel open 50 ears and buy only two.

Shoppers also may wonder whether it's OK to thump on watermelons or sniff the cantaloupes. Marker says yes, because those are the best ways to tell if you're getting good fruit.

Here is more advice from Marker, Little and United States Department of Agriculture on picking produce.

- Teri Johnson / Staff Writer




Size does matter ...

... when buying cucumbers and squash, says Monica Marker, market master at Washington County Farmers' Market.

It depends on consumer preference and how they will be used in cooking.

Small cucumbers are best for eating raw, she says.

Larger vegetables have more seeds and are tougher.

Summer squash varieties include crookneck, straightneck, patty pan and zucchini.

Large zucchini are good for making bread, while medium ones are good to fill with stuffing.

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