We can never ensure that the fruits and vegetables we buy are insect-free, not rotten from the inside, not stale or don’t have a pungent smell. But what we can do is lookout for ways to minimise this danger and get ourselves fresh and healthy supplies every time we go to the market. Because, honestly, we all know the feeling of buying fruits or vegetables that are either already decaying on the inside or are so under-ripe that they need to be left out for days before eating. But as long as we remember a few basic tips, it becomes easier to pick fresh food.
So, here are some tips on how to select fresh fruits and vegetables from the supermarket and get home a bag full of nutrients. This blog also includes easy ways to keep your goods garden-fresh for a longer period.
SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
- Firstly, avoid fruits and vegetables with cuts, bruises, insect holes, mould or decay. At the same time, the fruit does not need to be perfectly shaped in looking in order to taste good.
2. Smelly items need to be avoided; firmness to finger, effervescent, colours and proper smell speak a lot about the quality.
3. Distorted produce should not be picked.
4. Avoid the wilted, wrinkled, drooping and insect-damaged items. To check, pick the fruit and turn it over in your hands, the surface should be largely smooth and even.
4. Selection of leafy vegetables should be done very carefully. Avoid mature leafy vegetables with visible seeds; they will be tough and generally tasteless.
FRESH VS FROZEN
Fresh produce purchased in season is best for good taste and full nutrition. Research has shown that frozen fruits and vegetables are equal to freshly picked ones and have less waste but they have added sugar, salt and corn syrup – and nutrients may be lost in the process. While purchasing the latter kind, their expiry date and packaging must be checked.
No doubt, seasonal vegetables are best for consumption. But if you need to freeze some of your favourites for the coming months, make sure to clean these veggies before refrigerating.
Chopped veggies are not suitable mostly as they tend to discolour and lose taste and water if not preserved properly. Fruits and vegetables should be kept frozen until ready to use. Also, be sure to use them within the expiry date mentioned on the package. Frozen products are handy for quick and easy use.
Fruits should be ripened at room temperature and then refrigerated. But it is best to consume fresh as much as possible. Long storage should be avoided as home refrigerators cannot provide the proper temperature or humidity to store fruit and vegetables for extended periods.
TIPS FOR SUPERMARKET WHILE SHOPPING
- Since a majority of fruits and vegetables are available round the year, you should know which of them are completely off-season at the moment and hence, avoid buying them. For example, mangoes in November are generally a result of chemicals.
2. On ripening, a lot of fruits become soft and their colours change. Please remember that the process of ripening varies from one fruit to another.
3. A lot of fruits are picked before they are ripe by the sellers because they tend to damage during the transport. So while the citrus fruits may not change taste once picked, some fruits change colour and get sweeter with time like a banana. Therefore, there is no harm in picking raw bananas for home and waiting for a few days for it to ripe on its own. However, the same cannot be said for citrus fruits that start getting acidic smell when kept for a longer time.
4. Avoid fruits of very large size if you don’t intend to eat them in a day or two.
5. Avoid purchases of fragile fruits and vegetables when the weather is severe for several days. This is because any damaged scar is a great place for bacteria to hide and spread rapidly to the rest of the fruit or vegetable. Furthermore, damaged produce is less nutritious and less tasty.
6. While selecting the best pieces, give the fruit a little pressure to check its firmness. No fruit except apples should be rock-hard. Fruits such as pears, bananas and avocados begin to soften after picking if left at room temperature. A sweeter fragrance indicates ripeness in your fruit. Give the fruit a good whiff as well. You should pick up a light aroma from it. A strong scent can indicate over-ripeness, and if the fruit smells a bit tart, you’re probably holding an apple or a banana that’s past its longevity.
7. While shopping, keep the fresh produce separately from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Secretions from animal products could contain pathogens that have the ability to contaminate vegetables.
TIPS FOR STORAGE & CONSUMPTION
- In order to ripen the unripe fruits, one may place them in a brown paper bag or wrap them in the newspaper. To speed up the process, a ripe fruit may be added to the lot.
2. A quick rinse is important to reduces our exposure to potentially harmful microorganisms’ chemicals and pesticides. And since we are amidst a pandemic, do wash your produce immediately as you reach home and wash them thoroughly to avoid being infected.
3. Since washing some vegetables like potatoes accelerates the decaying process, make sure to not bulk-buy. Another way to avoid quick decay is to wipe-dry each item before storing.
You don’t need to memorize a long list of specifics in order to walk away with something fresh, ripe and tasty. Simply use your sense of touch, smell and vision to pick the best ones and voila!
Don’t forget to tell us in the comment section your tips and tricks to shopping fresh fruits and veggies.