So this is something I've been trying to find for a long time, but have failed to find so far. Basically, I'm looking for a comprehensive reference cookbook that is a purchasing, storing, and prepping guide for just about every ingredient I could possibly want to use. This isn't so important for herbs or spices - I have found books for those - but for fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, grains, some prepared foods (tofu comes to mind), dried foods, preserved foods - you get the idea. This guide should tell me what to look for in the grocery store (ie. how to tell if something's ripe / spoiled / otherwise worth or not worth buying), how best to store these ingredients (in the fridge? in a container in the fridge? should it be airtight? in a cool dark place?), and how to prepare them (how should I wash it? is it known for being gritty? are any parts inedible? how should I cut it? is there a specific way it needs to be cooked for health reasons? etc).
Not having a guide like this has been one of the biggest road blocks to advancing my home cooking. Basically, if I haven't used an ingredient before, I either won't buy it because I have no idea how to tell if it's good or spoiled, how to store it, or how to prepare it properly, or I'll buy it and do at least one of those things wrong, with results ranging from embarrassing to disastrous. So really any help here would be much appreciated. Thanks!
(Note that I'm using cookbook loosely here to mean, pertaining to cooking - it doesn't have to have recipes.)
(Also, I have found *some* of this information online, but it hasn't been even remotely comprehensive. I'm hoping there's a book that would be.)