These tricks will help you pick the perfect fall produce

By Ro Kalonaros
Updated: October 14, 2014

Ever bring home a perfectly good-looking pear only to bite into a mushy inside? Turns out, picking the tastiest produce takes a little more skill than the average shopper knows. Fortunately, Steve Napoli, also known as "The Produce Whisperer," owner of Boston's gourmet grocery store, Snap Top Market, revealed his tried and true tips (passed down from his great-grandfather) for hand-selecting the perfect produce. Read on to make sure you pick the best produce every time.

Sweet Potatoes

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Think small. "Avoid very large sweet potatoes, as this is a sign of age," says Napoli. "An aged sweet potato has lost some of its nutrients."

Squash

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"The tastiest winter squashes are heavy for their size, with the stem intact and have a corky feel," Napoli says. "The skin of the squash should be deeply colored with a matte finish."

Pears

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"Choose pears that are unripe and leave to ripen in a cool, dry, dark place. Most pears ripen from the inside out, and if left on the tree to ripen, many varieties will become rotten the middle. This is especially common in fall pears. To test for ripeness, apply light thumb pressure near the pear's stem-if it's ripe, there will be a slight give," Napoli says.

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Brussel Sprouts

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"Look for small, firm sprouts with compact, bright-green heads-the smaller the head, the sweeter the taste. Avoid any yellowing and search for sprouts sold on the stem, which are usually the freshest," he says.

Cabbage

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"Look for bright, crisp coloring. Sweeter cabbage comes in late fall," Napoli says. "The cooler the weather when it's harvested, the sweeter it tends to taste."

Apples

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"During the fall, Honey Crisp and Macoun varietals are best for eating. Honey Crisps are best early in the season and Macouns mid-fall. Cortland apples are best for pies because they hold their shape," he adds. "And you avoid a mushy, applesauce filling."

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