How do you judge food at the supermarket?

20 Oct 2013 05.31 am by Renny Wijeyamohan

How do you judge food? It’s a good question. And given the variety of methods on display at your local supermarket or grocery store – the assessment of the quality of fruit and vegetables is a habitual process. Perhaps our parents showed us how to tell a good apple from a bad one? Maybe we learnt about the signs of deterioration of fresh produce in school science class? Most likely we’ve simply developed our own unique methods of testing food based on years of picking, storing and eating experience.


Here we take a look at some of the most common methods of assessing the quality of fruit and vegetables and explain their relevance.


The heft

Picking up a fruit or vegetable, feeling its weight in your hand and turning it over to check for blemishes and imperfections can be a useful method to tell its quality. Weight is important in assessing water and nutrient content – heavier produce should contain more nutrients than a lighter counterpart of equal size. Compare the weight to other fruits and vegetables of the same type that you have held before and ask yourself does it feel the same?


The squeeze

Squeezing a fruit or vegetable is also useful since tautness of the skin is an indicator of ripeness and nutrition. Depending on the type of produce – hold it in your hand and lightly squeeze to check the amount of “give”. As a guide, ripe apples, tomatoes, carrots and onions should be firm while avocados, peaches and pears should be softer.


The sniff

Assessing the smell of a fruit or vegetable is an effective way to tell if bacteria is present. Tiny bacterial organisms attack food as it degrades, consuming the food and leaving behind waste products. This bacterial waste is the cause of that powerful rotting smell that tells you that food has gone off and it’s time to clean out your fruit bowl, pantry or refrigerator.


The taste

Tasting fruit and vegetables (as long as its allowed) at your local supermarket or grocery store is a good way to see if it is good to eat. Some fruit and vegetables will taste tart and acidic when they are unripe, while others will be nutty and starchy. The rule here is that if it makes you pull a face when you taste it it’s probably not ready to eat or it has already gone bad.


So next time you’re at the grocery store have a think about giving the heft, squeeze, sniff and taste a whirl to make sure you are getting the best quality produce that you can.



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