Walk into a food store and look at the luscious display of fresh fruit available in a fairly constant supply during the entire year.
This abundance can be credited to the great strides made by growers, shippers and distributors – including improved varieties, more efficient methods of production; and advance techniques in packaging, pre-cooling, shipping, storing and refrigeration.
What to look out for
The following alphabetical list of fruit can help you to shop more intelligently.
Look for: Firm, crisp, well-coloured apples. Flavour varies and depends on the time the fruit is picked and the specific variety. Apples must be mature when picked to ensure good flavour, texture and storing ability.
Immature apples lack colour and are usually poor in flavour. They may have a shrivelled appearance after being held in storage.
When selecting apples, press your finger against them to check for firmness.
Avoid: Overripe apples (yielding to slight pressure on the skin and a soft, mealy flesh) and apples affected by freeze (indicated by internal breakdown and bruised area). A scald on an apple (irregular shaped tan or brown areas) usually doesn't affect the eating quality of the apple.
Look for: Apricots that are plump and juicy looking, with a uniform, golden-orange colour. Ripe apricots will yield to gentle pressure on the skin.
Avoid: Dull-looking, soft, or mushy fruit and very firm, pale yellow, or greenish-yellow fruit. These are indications of overmaturity or immaturity respectively.
Look for: For immediate use, slightly soft avocados which yield to a gentle pressure on the skin. For use in a few days, firm fruits that do not yield to the squeeze test. Leave them at room temperature to ripen.
Avoid: Avocado with dark sunken spots in irregular patches or cracked broken surfaces. These are signs of decay.
Look for: Bananas which are firm, bright in appearance, and free from bruises or other injury. The stage of ripeness is indicated by the skin colour: best eating quality has been reached when the solid yellow colour is specked with brown marks. Bananas with green tips or with practically no yellow colour have not developed their full potential.
Avoid: Bruised fruit and fruit with discoloured skins or a dull, greyish, aged appearance.
Look for: A dark blue colour with a silvery bloom, which is your best indication of quality. This silvery bloom is a natural protective waxy coating. Buy blueberries that are plump, firm, uniform in size, dry, and free from stems and leaves.
Look for: A very dark colour, which is the most important indication of good flavour and maturity in sweet cherries.
Avoid: Over-matured cherries, which lack flavour. Shrivelling, cried stems, and an overall dull appearance indicate this.
Look for: Plump, firm berries with a lustrous colour, for the best quality. Duller varieties should at least have some red colour.
Look for: Firm, well-shaped fruit. The fruit should be heavy for their size. Thin-skinned fruit have more juice than coarsely skinned ones. If a grapefruit is pointed at the stem end, it is likely to be a thick-skinned one. Rough, ridged or wrinkled skin can also be an indication of a thick skin, pulpiness, and lack of juice. Grapefruit often have skin defects such as scars or thorn scratches