It’s no surprise that good-quality ingredients make for the best meals. Therefore, it’s important to understand the basics of choosing the best produce such as fruits, vegetables, and meats when you’re shopping. Here are 6 ways to choose food ingredients like a pro.

1. Fruits

Fresh Fruit

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The surface of melons and fruits should be even and smooth. It should be firm but not hard. Inspect the fruits for dents.

It could be a sign of damage. It’s wise to pay attention to the weight of the fruits. Heaviness indicates how juicy a melon or fruit is.

This is especially true for cantaloupe, watermelon, lemons, and oranges.

Fresh fruits also have a light aroma. It’s not too strong or overpowering as it means the fruit is overripe. A sweet, light smell is an indicator of ripe and fresh fruits.

Be wary of sellers that sell artificially ripened fruits. It’s easy to distinguish fruits that have been artificially ripened.

These fruits have a uniform skin color in fruits such as papaya, mango, and tomatoes. However, the stem will be dark green. These fruits will also have a shorter shelf-life and lesser flavor.

 

2. Vegetables

Fresh Vegetables

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It’s easy to judge the quality of vegetables if you remember these three things.

  • Touch. The firmness and texture of vegetables indicate freshness. Some vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini will feel firm and not rubbery. On the other hand, some vegetables like mushrooms and tomatoes will have a springiness when fresh. In addition, some vegetables such as onions and potatoes will be solid.
  • Sniff. In general, all fresh produce smells fresh. Some vegetables may have a pungent smell like cabbage even when it’s fresh.
  • Sight. Opt for the liveliest, brightest, and most vibrant vegetables. However, the color should be free of molds and dark spots. The skins shouldn’t be wrinkly and leaves shouldn’t be wilting.

Avoid buying extremely shiny or green vegetables as they may have been adulterated. Malachite green is a chemical dye that’s used to dye green vegetables such as peas, chilies, broccoli, etc.

Here’s a simple test to identify if vegetables have Malachite green in them.

  • Take a few balls of cotton and soak them in oil.
  • Rub the cotton on vegetables.
  • The cotton will turn green if it has adulterants.

 

3. Seafood

Fresh Fish

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It’s important to buy the freshest seafood. Opt for clear, bright, and full eyes (they should be protruding).

The gills should be bright pink or red. The surface of the fish should be elastic but not slimy. These tips are applicable to whole squids and raw shrimps: full, firm, and clear meat with no signs of damage.

If you’re buying fillet fish, ensure that it has no bruising or browning. Shellfish and crabs should be purchased live.

 

4. Poultry and Meat

Fresh Meat

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When purchasing meat, opt for high juiciness, flavor, and tenderness. It should be fully meaty/fleshed and should have no tears on the skin.

The surface should not be too wet or too dry and shouldn’t have any blood splashes. Avoid anything that:

  • Doesn’t bounce back when pressed
  • Is mushy
  • Has a rancid smell.

Here are a few more tips to choose poultry and meet by their color:

Lamb. Opt for red or soft pink-colored meat. The fat should be white.
Poultry. Avoid green, purple, or any kind of discoloration. Opt for meat that’s pink in color.
Pork. Avoid pale-looking meats. Fresh meat has a pinkish-red color.
Beef. It should have a bright cherry color. But, it may look dark purple or red when wrapped. This is okay as the color returns when it’s exposed to air.

5. Spices

Spices - Food Ingredients

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Spices don’t have an expiration date. However, they may lose flavor as they age. Prefer buying fresh or whole species rather than grounded spices. Store them in dry and cool places to retain their quality.

 

6. Eggs

Fresh Eggs

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The good news is that the size of eggs is not related to the quality of eggs. Feel free to choose eggs according to your requirements.

The color of the shell also does not influence the quality or nutritional values.

Generally, the outer appearance doesn’t work as the indicator but the content itself. The yolks should be high and thick and not flat.

The whites should be thick and plentiful and not runny. Only use fresh eggs and discard the stale ones.

The Takeaway

There you have it: 6 ways to choose food ingredients like a pro. Remember to touch, sniff and see the produce to determine its quality.

Food Ingredients


Featured Image Credits: Pexels

Shristi Patni

Shristi Patni

Content Writer

Shristi is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes. When not writing, she can be found reading or trying new recipes.