'Compact' and 'heavy for its size' are universal qualities to look for when selecting produce.
Below are more specific traits
- artichoke: compact, with firm, fleshy, tightly closed leaves.
- asparagus: tight, dark green or deep purple tips with firm slender stalks, preferably less than 1/2" in diameter.
- eggplant: tight, smooth skin. small or medium-sized ones have fewer seeds (examining the scar on the blossom end to select 'male eggplants' is bunk! They possess both male and female parts and can self-reproduce.)
- garlic: plump and compact with tight skin
- onion: tightly-closed neck, firm and dry all over with crackly skin. all varieties should have a mild smell; a strong scent indicates rotting.
- peppers: firm, tight glossy skin. heavy ones have thicker walls and therefore more juicy flesh.
- passion fruit: large and heavy. ripe when deeply wrinkled.
- persimmon: deep color; more red than yellow.
- fig: deep color. white cracks and a slight leathering effect indicate extreme sweetness!
- lychee: redder the fresher/better. with stems attached.
- citrus: firm and round with smooth skin.
- pomelo: heavy, fragrant.
- grapefruit: flattened ends, skin that is not puffy.
- lemon: bright yellow, not greenish.
- lime: dark green ones taste freshest; yellowing indicates the degradation of tartness and overall flavor.
- melon: slight softness and fruity aroma. look for a 'ground-spot' (slightly flattened, side where the skin is lighter in color where the melon once rested on the ground.) The more distinct the ground-spot is, the more time the melon spent ripening on the vine.
- cantalope: golden under the netting, not dull green.
- honeydew: freckles on the skin indicate sweetness.
- watermelon: ground-spot should be yellow, not white.
* The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition by Sheldon Margen, M.D., University of California, Berkeley, Random House Inc., 1992.