If you’re anything like me, you’re squeezing and smelling fruit and veg in the supermarket (looking a little unhinged at times!). I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t trust those ‘ripen at home’ items, because they just never ripen properly for me. It’s annoying, why not just ripen them on the farm and then sell them to me as a finished product? I don’t understand the point! I don’t want useless pears hanging around for weeks.
So, to make sure you lettuce is always lovely and crisp and your peaches sweet and juicy – here are my (well I say my, my mum and grandmother’s) tips on how to buy perfectly ripe fruit and veg. If i’ve missed any out, let me know in the comments!
I know, you’re thinking – love, I think i can tell if an apple is rotten. But, if you want the perfect apple (and why not, you are paying for them!), you need to look for a firm apple that fully displays the colour appropriate for its variety and feels heavy for its size – the heavier, the juicier and better the apple is.
You also need to take a look at the stems. They need to be intact, as they help a fruit stay healthy and keep it out from drying out. You’ll want to avoid obvious bruises and blemishes, which can quickly turn a good piece of fruit to rot.
Once you’ve got your perfect apple, keep it in the fridge, and it will last way longer than you think – like months! How do you like them apples?!
Oh avocados… nothing has broken my heart more than the humble avocado. Getting a perfect avocado is so important, because anything less than perfect is frankly inedible.
But it’s so easy to figure out if avocados are ripe or not – just flick off the little stem bud. If they circle underneath is bright green, your avocado is ripe or close to it. If it’s brown, steer clear as it has already turned.
Once you have the perfect avo, stick it in the fridge to stop it ripening any further.
Berries aren’t cheap, so there is nothing worse than getting them out of the fridge to find that they have got all furry. So when you are picking your berries, make sure the berries and their packaging are dry as possible, as moisture speeds the growth of mould.
Now bear with me – I haven’t lost it (yet), but you should really give berries a vinegar bath. Don’t worry, you won’t get strawberries that taste like pickled onions, but it will kill the spores that grow quickly and ruin the fruit.
To make a vinegar bath, put three cups of cold water and one cup of white vinegar in a large bowl. Stick in the berries and swish them around for a minute. Drain the berries, rinse with clean cold water until any trace of vinegar smell or taste is gone. Spread out the rinsed berries on a clean cloth or paper towels, and dry them well. Remember moisture = mould.
Generally, fresh broccoli is green (though you can buy fancy purple ones), and as it matures it turns yellow, but it’s not always the case that it’s because of rotting.
Ok, this blew my mind but the green clusters on the crown of the broccoli we eat are actually flowers, and when they open – guess what colour they are, yellow!
So if you want to eat your broccoli rather than sticking it in a vase, the buds on the head should be tight, closed and green – not slimy or turning funny colours.
The best indicator for a ripe piece of citrus fruit is that it’s fully developed its colour (they start off green). If your orange still has green spots, you’re in trouble as unlike other fruits, citrus doesn’t continue to ripen once it’s been plucked from the tree, so you’ve got to get it right the first time. The more you know eh?
You’ll also want to make sure the skin is as smooth as can be expected of these dimpled fruits – if it’s withered or wrinkled, the fruit is past its prime.
Lettuce and other leafy greens
I know it’s not the cheap option, but I do often buy pre-packaged lettuce and spinach (sue me!). Even though it has an expiration date on the packet, on more than a few occasions the leaves have gone brown and slimy way before their time.
Lettuce of any variety should be green and dry without dodgy brown spots. Give a head of iceberg a squeeze – it should feel firm and juicy and its outer leaves shouldn’t be falling off.
Most leafy greens have a pretty short shelf life (a week tops), so eat them up as soon as you buy them to avoid wasting money.
Melons aren’t easy to assess because all of their fruity flesh is trapped inside their great big shell. This means you have to get knocking.
It’s more of a feeling, but you need listen for a melon that sounds full and more like a tenor than a bass. Nice and deep.
With a watermelon, you want it filled with lots of water, meaning that when you pick it up, it should weigh quite a bit in proportion to its size.
When it comes to honeydew and cantaloupe, give you melon a whiff and a squeeze too, because when they’re fully ripe, melons will smell sweet, even through their skin, and will give just a little bit under your fingers.
Smell the butt. Seriously! (I can’t handle just how hilarious and edgy this blog is! ha) Smelling the ‘butt’ or underside of the pineapple gives a lot away. If the fruit is ripe, it will smell sweet (but it will be less detectable behind the hard spiky skin).
Also, try to pull out one of the spikes at the top. It it gives away, easily (but not too easily), it’s nice and ripe.
My favourite tip of the lot because my grandmother gave it to me, but the uglier the pomegranate fruit, the more beautiful the taste.
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