written by Rebecca Goulter
We’ve all been there. After a long morning picking out your groceries, we come home to find out that the strawberries are tart, the corn has brown spots and the pineapple is old. Unlike certain chain stores that don’t buy blemished vegies (cough cough), market stalls can stock produce that is just a little under or over. So how do you make sure you’re leaving the market with a basket full of winners?
You can’t exactly rip the husk off a corn to tell the ripeness when you shop, so how do you know if it’s good? A bright green husk indicates that the kernels within are fresh. Make sure the husk isn’t too dry (because that means the kernels are too) or damp and soft (just hinting at the mouldy corn within). Rips or holes in the husk also mean that there’s been opportunity for mould, bacteria or even creepy crawlies to get in and eat, so watch out!
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than getting geared up for a smashed avo on toast, only to find a rock solid inside. How do you tell if it’s good to go? Hold the avocado with your whole hand and give it a gentle squeeze – if it has a little give it’s getting ripe, and if it gives easily it’s good to eat. The great thing about the mighty avo is that it ripens off the vine, so if you have a hard, bright green avocado just leave it on the bench for a couple of days until ripe.
When it comes to strawbs, the nose knows. You can tell the quality of strawberries by the sweet fragrance. Also look at colour – you’re looking for a bright red berry with no white or green near the stem. White or green spots mean that the berry was picked too soon and won’t ripen properly. Smaller berries tend to be juicier and more flavourful too! Also, if you see any blemishes or mould don’t bother. Your gorgeous berries will get contaminated before you have time to say pavlova.
We wait all year for mango season, so make sure you only pick winners! It’s a three pronged attack – you’re looking for a soft texture (similar to an avocado). Mangoes come in a range of colours, but if there are prominent orange or yellow patches (or it’s completely yellow), that’s a good sign. Lastly, if the mangoes fill a room with their glorious tropical fragrance then you’re set to tuck in.
Hot tip: Buy a whole case of mangoes, cut off the cheeks and freeze for a smoothie.
Is your pineapple a fine-apple? Out of all the fruits, these ones might be the hardest to get right. The exterior doesn’t really offer many clues, as the colour changes depending on how much sunlight it got while growing, and has no relation to ripeness. Choose your fruit by smelling the base, which should have a slight pinã colada aroma. Check the skin too, because if it’s loose it’s out of juice.
Did we miss any? Let us know if these tips help your grocery shop, and which fruits or vegetables you’d like to know more about next time.