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6 Ways to Choose Food Ingredients Like a Pro

6 Ways to Choose Food Ingredients Like a Pro

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 and Snazzy Women. When not writing, she can be found reading or trying new recipes.

Basic Ingredients You Should Have in Your Kitchen

Basic Ingredients You Should Have in Your Kitchen

Stock your kitchen with these basic ingredients so that you always have a dinner backup plan.

We’ll try and cover everything here, starting with the essentials, bare-minimum pantry ingredients you’ll need to condiments, spices, freezer foods, and the little extras that are nice to have on hand. Let’s take a sneak peek!

The Bare Minimum

These 6 essential staples should always be there at your disposal.

  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Dry Goods and Starches

Do you love pasta? Do you prepare Asian dishes? If yes, you need to stock up on these items:

  • Dried bread crumbs
  • Split peas
  • Lentils
  • Rice (brown, white in long-grain or short-grain variety)
  • Pasta (in all shapes, tubes, and strands of your choice)
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Wheatberries
  • Couscous

Canned Goods

Broths such as beef and chicken are excellent to have if you make sauces or gravies where the liquid is “reduced”. The salty flavor of the broth gives these items the extra punch.

  • Tuna
  • Canned beans: kidney, black, white
  • Jar/can of marinara sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Beef broth or stock
  • Chicken stock or broth
  • Canned olives

The Root Cellar

Cooking Ingredients

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Storing them in a well-ventilated, cool, dark area will help them stay fresh for longer periods of time.

  • Garlic
  • Online
  • Potatoes
  • Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds)
  • Dried fruit (apricots, apples, raisins)

The Spice Box

These spices will help make the dishes flavourful and healthy.

  • Dried parsley
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Chilli powder
  • Seasoned salt
  • Curry powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cayenne
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried basil
  • Natural spice


They will enhance the flavor of everything right from classic noodles to hearty soups.

  • Hot sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar (wine, sherry, white, cider, and balsamic vinegar)

The Freezer

Keeping these items handy in your refrigerator will help you create your favorite meals even during the off-season!

  • Chicken breasts
  • Frozen fruits (strawberries, peaches, blackberries)
  • Ground beef
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen spinach (or other frozen vegetables such as edamame, onion and bell pepper mix, broccoli)
  • Frozen corn
  • Pumpkin

The Fridge

Stock your fridge with these to whip a plethora of options from tasty omelets to delicious salad dressings.

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (whole grain, Dijon, and yellow)
  • Ketchup
  • Other cheese (mozzarella, feta, cheddar)
  • Margarine or butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Coconut milk


Ingredients and flavors that not only keep well but are also nice to have on hand.

  • Brown sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Cooking spray
  • Kosher salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Anchovy paste
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Canned chilies
  • Capers
  • Shallots
  • Fresh ginger
  • Lemonds
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Wine
  • Herbs and species: thyme, tarragon, rosemary, Italian seasoning, dry mustard, marjoram, dill, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice.

Baker’s Essentials

Cooking Ingredients

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Build your baking pantry with these 10 essentials.

  • Flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, whole grain, bread, cake, pastry, and self-rising flours)
  • Leaveners (baking soda, baking powder, yeast)
  • Sugar (granulated, brown, and confectioner’s sugar)
  • Sea salt
  • Buttermilk
  • Cream cheese
  • Food coloring
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles


To sweeten up the good ol’ pancakes!

  • Maple syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Honey


Storage Jars and Containers

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Now that you have all the basic ingredients, you have to organize them so they all fit in your kitchen and are easily accessible.

  • Organizers: A multi-level organizer is attractive and practical.
  • Glass jars: They make all the open storage spaces appealing. Feel free to use assorted glass jars to have your own unique collection. You can also use a chalk marker to label the jars.
  • Pop containers: For items that require airtight storage such as brown sugar, They come in all shapes and sizes and can hold everything from flour to spices.
  • Bins and baskets: Uniform bins and baskets help your kitchen look orderly and nice.

In Conclusion

With a well-organized and well-stocked pantry, you’re armed and ready to start cooking. Bake a cake from scratch or prepare your favorite pasta without having to run to the grocery store to pick up missing ingredients.

Having a well-stocked kitchen is the first step towards being a better cook!



Featured Image Credits: Unsplash

Shristi Patni

Shristi Patni

Content Writer

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