Grocery shopping wasn’t a regular occurrence for me until I graduated college and joined the “real world.” It was then that I realized that picking out produce can be a little intimidating! What do I look for when choosing this vegetable? How do I know when a certain fruit is ripe? These were all questions running through my head as I navigated the grocery store in my new hometown more than six years ago. Fortunately, learning how to select perfect apples counted as on-the-job training for me, while tips for selecting other produce items came from the employees at my store, and of course, trial and error. I’m still learning today, but feel much more confident about what to look for when selecting each item in the produce department. In this post, I thought I would share 6 tips for selecting the perfect apples at your store. Follow these tips and you should end up with a crisp, juicy, and flavorful apple every time you shop!

6 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Apple:

1. Check the apple’s firmness: Pick up the apple and gently press a small area of the fruit’s skin. It should be firm to the touch. Avoid apples that are noticeably soft, discolored, or indent easily after you press the skin.

2. Visually examine the apple: As you check firmness, turn the apple completely in your hand to visually check for quality. Some marking on the fruit (like a scuff or specks) comes from nature and doesn’t signal a bad apple. However, apples with bruising or obvious signs of decay aren’t going to provide the best eating experience and should be avoided.

3. Get to know your apple varieties: With so many apple varieties available today (and more coming out all the time), you’ll want to get to know the characteristics of your favorites, including their color, size, shape, and overall appearance. You’ll quickly learn which apples are best for baking (Golden Delicious apples, Rome apples) and which are better for fresh eating (Red Delicious apples, Honeycrisp apples). There are also versatile apples that are great no matter how you plan to enjoy them (like Piñata apples, Pink Lady apples, and Fuji apples). Selecting an apple that best fits how you’ll use them at home is essential in having a great apple eating experience!

4. Glance at the color of the apple: Although color is not the best indicator of a great eating apple, it can be helpful when selecting this fruit. For red varietal apples, look for the green background to be covered mostly by red or pink-orange hues. Apples with full color have absorbed lots of sunlight which leads to great flavors.

5. Give your apple a sniff:  A fresh, high-quality apple should have a pleasant aroma. This will vary by variety with some apples (like Gala) having a stronger fragrance than others.

6. Make sure it’s a Stemilt apple: Ok, I promise that this shameless plug has purpose behind it! Stemilt works hard each and every day to deliver the best apples to your stores. We hope you’ll look for the ladybug on the sticker of your apples when you shop. The ladybug is a symbol that the apple you are enjoying is from Stemilt’s Washington orchards! Also, if you shop for organic apples, you’ll know your apple is organic by looking for the leading 9 in front of the four-digit PLU code on the apple’s sticker.

What do you look for when selecting apples at the store? Which produce items do you think are most challenging to pick out? Share with us in the comments below!