The 10 Essential Finds in the Produce Section That Every Home Cook Should Stock Up On

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Turns out, the produce section is super Fun these days (yes, with a capital F!). In addition to your typical broccoli, cauliflower, and oranges, there are all sorts of smart innovations and expertly farmed fruits and veggies to make things more exciting.

In fact, when we were coming up with our list for the 2021 version of Kitchn Essentials (the most exciting groceries to buy this year), we went way over the allotted meeting time, squealing about the teeniest-tiniest tomatoes, the most flavorful kimchi, and sweet-yet-refreshing apples. Here’s what made our final list.

1 / 10
Best Lettuce

Faith Durand, our Editor-in-Chief, first saw these tiny, perfectly cupped lettuce leaves at restaurants in New York City and the Bay area. Soon after, they came out for the rest of us to buy and enjoy at home! Now they're her favorite lettuce — and we think they'll be yours, too.

2 / 10
Best Salad Kit

What’s for dinner? Salad kits to the rescue. But what kind? The major consensus among Kitchn editors is that Southwestern-style is best. That’s any kit with a creamy/spicy dressing, tortilla chip crunchies, and cheese. Honestly just about any will do, but Aldi's Little Salad Bar brings it with loads of veggies and a zesty chipotle ranch dressing.

3 / 10
Best Mandarin Oranges
Sumo Citrus

Off-the-charts sweet. Big. Easy-to-peel and seed-free. Sumo Citrus is all of these things. Honestly, it's the only mandarin you’ll ever want.

4 / 10
Best Apples
Envy Apple

A brilliant cross of Braeburn and Royal Gala, Envy apples make all the other apples jealous. You know ... if apples had feelings. Each one is crisp and refreshingly sweet.

5 / 10
Best Tomatoes

If you love cherry and grape tomatoes, these Tomberrys (the world’s smallest tomato!) will definitely be your new favorite. Yes, they're small. No, smaller! Like, smaller than blueberries. They're highly seasonal, though, which means there's a tiny window when they're available. Translation: Buy them when you see them!

6 / 10
Best Pickles

When pickles matter, pickles matter. Kitchn editors agree this big plastic tub of Italian dill spears is the way to go (and not just for the pickle-in-a-lawn-chair on the label!). They're crunchy, garlicky, and just so pickly. Fun fact: Our former Groceries Editor has been known to eat these — and only these — for dinner.

7 / 10
Best Sauerkraut

Yes, yes, fermented foods are good for your gut. Also? They taste really, really good. Faith loves the Roasted Garlic Kraut from Cleveland Kitchen, but all their flavors are worth exploring, and trying in and on just about everything. Here again, we also suggest eating this stuff right out of the bag.

8 / 10
Best Kimchi
Chi Kitchen

They had us at first-press fish sauce, but just thinking about the radish, garlic, ginger, and red pepper in this robust kimchi has our mouths watering. Chi Kitchen’s amazing lineup is clearly made with love, and we love that it’s a woman-owned family business founded by a chef.

9 / 10
Best Blueberries

If you aren't keeping a giant bag of frozen wild blueberries in your freezer, what are you even using your freezer for? Nina Elder, Executive Food Director, eats them daily and says Wyman’s is superior to any other brand — worth the freezer space for a giant bag!

10 / 10
Best Mail-Order Produce
Misfits Market

Picking produce doesn't need to be a mini beauty contest. Misfits ships delicious, organic produce direct to your door at a serious savings; it just might not be the prettiest. If you knew them for their mystery boxes, here’s an update! Now you can choose your own adventure, building a box of whatever your heart desires. You just have to meet a minimum order requirement of $30.