Skin and Hair
This site is provided for informational
purposes only. The information here is not intended to diagnose
or treat any condition, and should not replace the care and attention
of qualified medical personnel. Use the information on these pages
at your own risk, and, as with any information pertaining to health,
nutrition, mental health, or fitness, consult your physician before making any
changes that might affect your overall health.
Choosing and Using Produce at High Altitudes
For many types of produce,there is no difference at high altitude, but others will ripen
faster, or differently, or spoil sooner. The listing here only
includes those which we have noticed differences in.
Cantaloupe – Look at the
stem end, and make sure it has been broken from the melon, not cut.
When they are ripe enough to pick, they will break from the vine. And
then smell it. Riper melons smell better. Look for dents in the side
– not scars on the surface, they don't hurt anything, but darker
dents. Dents mean it is getting overripe and may be spoiling, but at
high altitude, cantaloupe will always begin to get spots in it before
it fully ripens. When you bring it home, usually when it has about three 1"
dents in it, it is ripe enough to eat. The dents are spoiled
spots - it will always start to spoil before it softens -
and when you cut it up, those spots will just pull out smoothly
from the fruit. Don't let it get lumpy all over though, or
it may spoil into the seed cavity, and then the entire cantaloupe
may be overripe and unpalatable.
Cucumbers – Squeeze the
blossom end. If it is soft, then the cucumber is over-age, and
starting to go hollow inside. A fresh cuke will be firm. Cukes tend
to mold in the refrigerator faster than at low altitude, so
freshness is more important.
Pears – Usually the
yellower they are, the riper they are, but the riper they are, the
more delicate they are! Fully ripe Bartlett pears require extremely
gentle handling – other types are less delicate. If you buy them
green, then you'll need to ripen them in a paper bag. At high
altitude, don't buy green ones, they will spoil from the inside
before they ripen fully. Ripe pears also have a more intense smell. Buy yellow
pears, and make sure the bagger puts them into a separate
bag where you can make sure that they do not get mashed -
don't even bag them with the bananas!
Apples – Hold the top of
the apple in your hand, with your thumb and forefinger circling
around the stem end – just above the wide part. Squeeze and see if
the apple gives, in toward the stem. If the apple compresses any, it
is not firm and crisp. Apples tend to spoil faster at high altitude,
but will keep well for 2-3 weeks.
Bananas – Pick up the
bunch and look at the back of them. Most bruising on bananas occurs
on the back side. Look at the blossom end, and buy bananas that are
full at that end. Bananas that were picked earlier will have a skinny
end, those that were picked when riper are fuller. Bananas ripen and spoil faster
at higher altitudes. Bananas will also
go spotty outside before they spoil though - they will still be firmer
inside than they appear from the outside. Handle bananas very
carefully. Ask the checker to bag them by themselves, and then
be very gentle with them.
Tomatoes – Look for skin
blemishes, and for a red color. Pinker tomatoes are generally less
ripe. Tomatoes can develop spots and spoil more quickly at high
altitude. Pink, hard tomatoes won't ripen further - they will develop spots
and spoil first. Vine ripened tomatoes are unquestionably
better in flavor, and will last 1-2 weeks unrefridgerated
at higher altitude.
Lettuce – Look for signs
of wilting, or drying out. Either one signifies overage. Lettuce will
often dry out more at high altitude.
Oranges – Oranges can be
judged by appearance, they should be yellowish orange, and not green.
The skin should be plump, and not dried out. Surface scarring does
not affect quality. Oranges will dry out more easily at high altitude
than in many places. They may spoil within 2 weeks, or start to dry out. If
they dry out, they will last a few weeks longer.
- Choose the yellowest pineapple you can find. It should be
yellow, or a deep golden color, with no tinge of brown or
gray. Brownish or grayish spots indicate the beginnings of
spoiling. At high altitudes, pineapple has the same issues
as cantaloupe and pears - buy it as ripe as you can find,
because while it WILL ripen, it will start to spoil before
it is fully ripe if it is very green when you get it. Pineapple
spoils from the outside in, and it will run down into the
fibers toward the center of the pineapple, so if it has a
few spoiled spots, it is simple to use a knife to cut them
out when you cut it up.
- They should be firm and full. Look at where the grape joins
the stem. This is the first place to spoil in grapes, and
dents around the stem indicate that they are past their prime
- grapes that are starting to spoil around the stem can be
trimmed and salvaged, but better ones are preferable. At high
altitude, grapes will not last more than 2 days out of the
fridge, and will usually only last 3 days or so in the fridge.
Grapes may also wither and start to dry out when they are
no longer fresh.
- Peppers should be shiny and firm. Aged peppers look dull,
and feel soft, and may have brown or black dents in them.
Keep peppers in the fridge for best usage, and use them within
1 week. At higher altitudes they may spoil a little faster.
and Zucchini - Summer squash and zucchini should be firm,
and shiny. The duller it is, the older it is. The blossom
end should be firm, and not soft. At high altitudes, these
vegetables develop dented spots in them when they are overaged
and nearing spoilage.
- Good potatoes are often harder to obtain at higher altitudes,
and prices are often higher, so you are dealing with a lower
quality produce to begin with. Buy the best potatoes you can
- no sprouts, least amount of visible blemishes on the skin,
no spoilage, etc. Keep them in a cool place, but do not keep
them in the fridge - they develop a citrusy flavor if refrigerated.
Russets will keep best. Potatoes will spoil faster at high
Most differences are
slight, and while almost all produce will age a little faster at high
altitude, these are the ones that show the most noticeable
difference, and the ones which require greater care in handling or
Editorial Comments throughout this site written by Laura Wheeler (with occasional sarcastic remarks by her son, David). Laura is a 10 year resident of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, where the altitude is greater than the population. Medicine Bow is at 6200+ ft above sea level, and boasts a total of 297 residents from the last census. Laura is an experienced technical, health and family writer.