It is very true that it is possible to make bad dishes out of good ingredients, however, it is impossible to make great dishes from bad ingredients. It is quite unfortunate that the ability to select good quality produce is a skill that has been gradually downgrading as each generation passes, especially with the advent of shopping at supermarkets. Admittedly, this very useful skill is not of much use to people that shop at supermarkets, where produce is probably selected and waxed to withstand the issues of storage and transportation, often at the cost of flavour. However, these skills may be useful for people that frequent their local grocers or markets. The unspoken rule for buying art markets and grocers is to always make sure that you buy in season. Produce bought out of season will often lack the nuances of in season produce. Therefore, below we look at some few things to observe to make sure you always choose the best produce all year round.
When buying greens such as silverbeet, kale, spinach and chard, the first thing you should always check is the condition of the leaves. The leaves should be very fresh and vibrant to the eyes, hence avoid any leaves that come across as yellow or wilted. Check the stems for firmness, and be particularly keen at checking whether the ends were recut to give off the impression that they are fresh.
It is usually very difficult to provide proper advice on selecting root vegetables such as turnip, carrot, beetroot, swede and potatoes without coming off as filthy. Dirt is a natural preservative material that does a good job at keeping roots fresh for longer, so long as you ensure that your product has hard roots that are not green. Since fresh leaves are very deceiving, the most ideal root is one that is hard without soft spots or divots. The general of thumb is that fresh leaves on softening roots absorb way too many nutrients than they should, which is a bad thing. Also remember, the smoother your vegetables, the easier your preparation will be.
For people that love avocados, ripe avocados have a gentle yield to them, just ensure they don’t have any soft spots. If you take out its stem and find a green surface underneath, it is perfect, if the surface is brown then your avocado is overripe and if the stem does not budge at all, then the avocado is underripe. However, most grocers will be very appreciative of you requesting them to find a ripe avocado for you rather than having to remove all the stems.
With regard to fruits, there are three major categories i.e. those you should taste, those you should look at and those you should smell. Thinner skinned fruits such as apples can be judged solely by smelling. Colour is a good indicator for plenty of fruits, hence a general guide is that fruits with darker colours are riper, while fruits not meant to stay green are riper the less green they are. Fruits such as cherries, blueberries and grapes may appear very ripe and shiny, however, their flavour quality can only be adequately judged via taste.