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How to Choose 13 Fruits and Vegetables

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Prime fruit and veggie season is almost upon us, meaning grocery stores and farmers’ markets will soon be overflowing with delicious produce. Here’s how to pick the best of the crop.

1. STRAWBERRIES

Fruits and vegetables taste freshest when they’re bought in season. Which means these sweet "accessory fruits," whose peak months are between June and August, are almost ripe for the picking. For the best bushels, pick berries that are firm, shiny, and bright red, with stem caps still attached.

2. PEARS

Some fruits, such as pears, keep ripening after they’re picked. So when it comes to choosing one, only pick a particularly ripe pear if you’re planning on eating it right away. A pear’s stem end is its best indicator of ripeness; if it gives under slight pressure, you’re good to go. If you notice softness anywhere else, the pear is already past its peak. Pears are in season from August to May, so hurry out and grab the best ones while you can.

3. TOMATOES

If you’re looking to increase your vitamin intake through fruits and veggies, then seek out produce that’s vividly colored, like this vitamin-packed fruit (that actually helps fight cancer!). The freshest tomatoes are plump, brightly colored, and free of dark spots. You can also use your nose to check for ripeness; if the stem end smells like a fresh garden, you’ve got a winner on your hands. Tomatoes are in season from May to August.

4. KALE

Another vitamin powerhouse, kale is best when its leaves are unwilted and deep green. Bunches with small leaves are usually more tender; those whose leaves are yellowing should be avoided. These leafy greens are in season from January through April.

5. WATERMELONS

Sometimes the best indicators of freshness are the ones that look the least appealing. In the case of watermelons, it’s that ugly patch of dirt you often see on their sides. Called a ground spot, it’s a sign that the melon was left on the vine long enough to ripen. Withered stems, while equally unattractive, also point toward ripeness. These summer favorites are in season May through August.

6. PEACHES

Peaches, in season from June to September, also taste better the more unappetizing they look. While your instinct may be to avoid the more bruised-looking fruits, those blemishes, called sugar spots, are actually signs you’ve got a sweet, sugary peach on your hands. Also look out for a stripe of lighter-colored flesh across the stem, which means the peach was allowed to ripen for longer before being picked.

7. CARROTS

Gone are the days that carrots only came in the color orange. These days, farmers’ markets and specialty grocery stores carry them in a rainbow of colors, from purple to yellow to red to white. Regardless of the color, seek out carrots that are firm and well-shaped and eschew those that sport cracks. And if you buy them in bunches with the leafy green tops still on, be sure to remove the tops before storing, or else your carrots will start to dry out. These crunchy veggies are in season all year.

8. BELL PEPPERS

Like carrots, peppers are in season year round, although they’re at their most flavorful during the summer and early fall. Look for ones that are firm, heavy, and brightly colored, with green stems and skin free of blemishes. As peppers come in a range of colors, keep in mind what taste you’re going for when you choose one; green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavor, while the red, orange, and yellow varieties are sweet.

9. SUMMER SQUASH

As their name attests, these squashes, like zucchini and yellow crooknecks, have a peak season between June and August. Be on the lookout for medium-size squash that are firm and heavy, with skin that’s glossy and brightly colored. Stay away from those with dull, tough exteriors, which usually house enlarged seeds and stringy flesh.

10. BEETS

These root veggies, in season from June to October, come in red, golden and even striped varieties. For all colors, seek out beets that are firm, round, and smooth. And if they’re sold in a bunch with the leafy tops attached, go for ones with fresh-looking greens, which are also edible. Pass over any beets with long roots or scaly areas up top, as these will be tough and yield a strong flavor.

11. BROCCOLI

In season from October to May, broccoli’s at its best when its stalks are firm, its leaves are crisp, and its florets are dark green. Ones to avoid: any bunches with a very strong smell, or yellowing or flowering florets, all signs that they’re past their peak.

12. APPLES

If you’ve frequented a farmers’ market in fall, you’ll know this fruit comes in a multitude of varieties, from McIntosh to Macoun to Honeycrisp. But the ripeness indicators are the same no matter the breed: look for apples that are firm, richly colored, and heavy for their size. Apple season runs from September to May.

13. BANANAS

Bananas are at peak taste when their skin is bright yellow mottled with a little brown. But if you’re not planning on eating them right away, it’s best to buy them when they’re still a bit green, as they keep ripening after they’re picked. Just be sure to keep them on your countertop rather than in your fridge; contrary to what you might think, the fruit actually ripens more quickly in the cold. Banana lovers are in luck: this fruit is in season year round.

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These Suitcases Convert Into a Mini Kitchen, Office, or Bed
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Finally, a product has been released to appease travelers who have long demanded a suitcase they can cook scrambled eggs on. A new line by Italian designer Marc Sadler, spotted by Lonely Planet, features three aluminum suitcases that can be converted into either a mini kitchen, a work station, or even a bed.

A cooktop suitcase
Marc Sadler

The cook station suitcase will soon be released as part of the special edition Bank collection, which will be sold by suitcase brand Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano. It comes with built-in power, a cooktop, mini fridge, several drawers with cutlery, and a foldable chopping table.

Those who travel often for work may want to opt instead for the workstation suitcase, which features a pull-out chair, work surface, electrical outlets, and wooden drawers. Ideal for camping, the bed station comes with a fold-out wooden frame and mattress topper. It also happens to be the most expensive of the three, at a cost of €6900 ($8135).

A suitcase converts to a pull-out bed
Marc Sadler

A suitcase with a built-in desk and drawers
Marc Sadler

It's unclear whether these suitcases would make it through airport security, but TSA does permit camp stoves as long as they don't have fuel inside them. Don't try to make breakfast while waiting at your gate, though—there are probably rules against that.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Chefs Launch World's Highest Pop-Up Restaurant at Mt. Everest Base Camp
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A touch of altitude sickness shouldn't stand in the way of a good meal. At least that seems to be the idea behind a plan to serve a seven-course dinner to trekkers at Everest Base Camp, the gateway for those planning to climb Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The four chefs leading this trip hope it will land them a new Guinness World Record for the highest pop-up restaurant on the planet, according to Architectural Digest. At the end of May, the chefs will take 10 people on an eight-day trek from the town of Lukla (at an altitude of about 10,000 feet) to Everest Base Camp (at 11,600 feet), all while foraging along the way for ingredients that can be incorporated into the meal. (For a true luxury experience, guests also have the option of traveling by helicopter.) The full package of flights, accommodations, and meals costs about $5600 per person.

After reaching their destination, trekkers will get to sit back and enjoy a feast, which will be served inside a tent to protect diners against the harsh Himalayan winds. Indian chef Sanjay Thakur and others on his team say they want to highlight the importance of sustainability, and the money they raise will be donated to local charities. Thakur said most of the food will be cooked sous vide, which allows vacuum-packed food to be cooked in water over a long period of time.

"The biggest challenge, of course, will be the altitude, which will affect everything," Thakur tells Fine Dining Lovers. "Flavor [perception] will be decreased, so we will be designing a menu of extraordinary dishes accordingly, where spices will have the upper hand."

This isn't the first time an elaborate meal will be served at Everest Base Camp, though. According to Fine Dining Lovers, another chef launched a pop-up at the same spot in 2016, but it presumably wasn't registered with the Guinness Book of World Records. Other extreme restaurants include one carved into a limestone cliff in China, one dangling 16 feet above the ground in a rainforest in Thailand, and one submerged 16 feet below sea level in the Maldives.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

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