Produce Selection Handout (1).docx - Produce Selection...

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Produce Selection Handout Introduction Great chefs use great ingredients. Great food preparation is more than expertise, skill and technique. Ingredient selection is equally or perhaps more important. Selection of ingredients which have the characteristics best suited for an intended use is a skill which successful chefs must develop. The good news is that with a little knowledge and careful thought one can easily learn the basics of selection. Let us first define both a fruit and vegetable. Fruit is the ovary of a plant that contains the seed or is surrounded by seeds. (See the structure of plants in section on Horticulture/Botany). Vegetables, on the other hand, can be any other part of a plant which is safe to consume. If you have never taken the time to consider it, it may surprise you to think of all the different parts of plant that make up our many vegetables in the kitchen. Here are some examples we use roots, tubers, stems, stalks, seeds, leaves, bark, flowers etc. In the context of produce, fruits and vegetables, two conventions can be used to best select a produce item: Quality and Condition . Quality Produce quality is assessed by evaluating the characteristics associated with growth. Factors such as size, color, shape, flavor and texture ( solidity- how heavy in relation to its size) would be good examples of quality factors. These factors are a function of the degree of maturity of the plant. There is a point in time during growth where the vegetable or fruit has developed the exact characteristics which are most valued by the chef. The chef and consumer may drive the harvesting decision. Obviously this is the time for harvest. (If it was picked earlier or later it may be of lower quality depending on the produce item). Most vegetables and even some fruits are picked early or immature. Maturity in a plant is defined by their development and viability of the seeds.
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  • Fall '19
  • United States Department of Agriculture, 50 degrees, Harold McGhee

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