When you do your weekly shop, it’s important to keep your wits about you. After all, the appearance of food – particularly fresh produce – can mean the difference between getting home with a moldy melon and enjoying juicy raspberries on your oatmeal all week long. So, next time you’re stocking up on fruits and vegetables in your local store, look out for these signs. They should indicate whether your chosen goods are indeed ready to be plucked from the shelves – or if they should be left well alone.
20. Cantaloupe melons
For many of us, a slice of cantaloupe melon makes for an incredibly refreshing snack. But how can you spot a “bad” melon on the shelves? Well, it seems that you can’t tell from just a glance. Instead, it’s advised that you pick up the fruit in order to get a feel for how firm it is. And if you notice that the cantaloupe is a little soft or that there are splits in its skin, then you may want to put it back. What’s more, a melon’s smell should make you want to eat it. If it has an unpleasant odor, it’s probably best to steer clear.
However, even if the melon passes those checks, there’s still something else to watch out for. One of the best ways to determine the ripeness of a cantaloupe, you see, is by pushing your finger into the opposite end to which the stem was once attached. And if this area feels mushy, it usually means that the fruit is on the verge of spoiling.
Let’s be honest: the preparation that a number of vegetables require can sometimes make eating them feel like a bit of a chore. But the same can’t be said for carrots. Unlike broccoli or sprouts, for example, a raw carrot can be eaten on the go and is perfect for when you fancy a quick snack. So, to avoid ending up with a foul taste in your mouth, it’s important to know what to look out for when choosing these veggies in a store.
Once you’ve decided on your carrots’ shape and size, it’s time to pay closer attention to the end of the vegetable. If it is easily bendable, for instance, then that’s not a good sign. And you’d probably be better off walking away if your carrots feel rubbery to the touch, too.
Visually speaking, watermelons are probably the most eye-catching fruits that you’ll find at the grocery store. Their refreshing, juicy taste means that they’re an ideal snack to enjoy in the summer months, too. Yet shopping for the perfect watermelon doesn’t come without its challenges, as we’re about to find out.
The key to avoiding a bad watermelon is by examining its skin – and that means all of it. If the exterior of the fruit has a large yellow mark at the base, then it should be delicious when you get it home. On the flip side, though, dark patches suggest that the melon is spoiled. So, be sure to take a good look before taking your pick to the checkout operator.
As fruits go, apples are pretty ideal for when you fancy a quick nibble during the day. You see, the fact that they don’t need peeling means you can usually dive straight into eating them. But what do you need to be aware of when you go shopping for this crunchy snack? And are there any obvious red flags?
As it turns out, there are a couple of things to watch out for when plucking apples from the produce aisle. If the fruits are either bruised or have any depressions, for example, then it’s probably best to steer clear. While you may be able to munch around these marks, the apples will most probably rot a lot faster than their undamaged equivalents. And this could cause other items in your fruit bowl to deteriorate more quickly, too.
Now, there may not be a more versatile fruit out there than the humble cherry. Not only can they be incorporated into countless dishes, such as cakes and puddings, but a handful of these small fruits can satisfy that sweet craving when you’re in need of a snack. However, they too require a bit of inspection work at the grocery store.
At first, you should divert your gaze to the cherry’s stems, paying specific attention to the color. A green stem indicates that the fruit is in perfect condition – especially when compared to cherries with brown stalks. But that’s not all you need to watch out for. If the cherries in your punnet don’t feel firm to the touch, then it’s probably best to leave them on the shelf.
15. Leafy greens
Besides the fact that they’re a great addition to a balanced diet, leafy greens are fantastic because they can be eaten in several different ways and can be incorporated into a variety of meals. Lettuce, for instance, is not only perfect in a salad, but it can also be added to sandwiches and burgers. No one likes a limp leaf, though, do they? So, it’s important to follow these steps in the grocery store.
To begin with, you need to feel the texture of the greens. Leaves that are floppy or lifeless should be swapped in favor of those with a firmer exterior. And the color has to be considered at this stage, too. Brown marks are another bad sign, you see, as they suggest that the vegetable is past its prime.
Renowned for its mild flavor, cauliflower can easily be turned into alternatives for staples such as flour, rice and potatoes, making them a great choice for people who have an intolerance or allergy to gluten. So, if you’re a fan of this versatile vegetable – either in its natural form or as a carb replacement – then you need to know how to select the best one.
Well, a fresh cauliflower always displays an off-white color that helps it stand out on the shelves. If the vegetable is spoiled, however, it’ll develop brown marks on the top of its florets – ones that eventually get bigger as time goes on. And as seems to be the case with a lot of other fresh produce, you must also avoid buying any cauliflowers that feel softer than normal.
13. Bell peppers
Do you often find yourself craving a healthy, refreshing bite to eat at home? If so, a bell pepper might be just what you’re looking for. Much like carrots, you see, peppers can be eaten without needing to be cooked – and they’re extremely good for you. What’s more, these vibrant vegetables can be also added to various dishes in the kitchen.
So, how do you avoid picking up a bad bell pepper at the shops? Well, a fresh one will feel nice and hard, whereas a pepper that’s starting to rot will have a softer exterior. And any with stalks that are damaged or showing cracks shouldn’t make it into your basket, either.
When you’re seeking a versatile vegetable to accompany your next evening meal, you can’t really go wrong with the humble potato. After all, they’re delicious whichever way you choose to cook them – whether they’re roasted or fried. But if you’re seeking the perfect bag of potatoes during a weekly shop, you’ll probably need to look past the dirt that often lingers on their surfaces.
Did you know, for instance, that cracked potatoes shouldn’t be purchased? That’s a strong indicator that they’ve gone dry. And after rubbing off a bit of the dirt, you may want to consider the state of the vegetable’s skin, too. If it appears particularly weathered, then it probably isn’t fresh. You may not even need to inspect it that closely, though, as a bad potato often gives off a somewhat sour smell.
As summer rolls in, you may feel the urge to dust off the old barbecue. Perfect for preparing burgers, sausages and steaks, this appliance is great for a family get-together or a gathering with friends. However, you mustn’t forget the crunchy vegetable that goes very well as a side to those meat dishes. And that’s corn, of course, which is known for its tendency to char well on the grill.
Before you start prepping for those summer fiestas in the garden, though, you may want to keep this advice in mind. Corn is another vegetable that needs to be checked thoroughly at the grocery store, and again, it requires you to pick it up and give it a bit of a squeeze. If the cob doesn’t seem particularly rigid and exudes a sticky substance, though, then you should probably grab another one from the shelves.
10. Citrus fruits
As suggested earlier, you can’t just tuck into a citrus fruit in the same way that you would with an apple. Instead, you need to peel away the skin to reveal the juicy contents inside. Sometimes, though, it’s a bit of a guessing game as to what’s underneath. And with that in mind, you may be wondering if there’s a particularly clever method of choosing the perfect orange or lemon in a store.
Well, unlike some of the other foods that we’ve spoken about thus far, a fresh citrus fruit shouldn’t feel very hard. If it does, that means it has probably lost moisture beneath the skin. Another factor to consider is the fact that lemons and oranges are usually quite weighty when they’re ripe.
9. Raspberries and blackberries
For those of us with a sweet tooth, there are certain fruits that can help satiate that craving. Raspberries and blackberries definitely fall into that category thanks to their strong, sugary flavor. Is there any way of telling if one punnet is better than the other, though? Well, fortunately for us all, that’s indeed the case.
As it turns out, spotting whether raspberries are past their best isn’t that difficult. You just need to swerve any that display bruises and dips. Discoloration on blackberries may be harder to spot, however, given their dark hue. So, should they feel soft to the touch, you may want to rummage for a different pack.
While some people may favor a dollop of tomato ketchup over the real deal, there are others who just can’t get enough of the juicy fruit. If you’re one of those folks, you’ll no doubt be aware of the signs to look out for when shopping for tomatoes. And it’s quite an extensive checklist, too.
Firstly, you have to examine the tomatoes’ shade; if they aren’t bright red, you should avoid them. Similarly, you must also watch out for any dents or damage to the skin. And that’s not all, as it’s also advised that you check whether the fruit is relatively solid. A rancid tomato will feel soft and so won’t taste very nice in your sub.
When you’re preparing a refreshing salad on a summer’s evening, it’s a good idea to look for vegetables that add variety as well as nutrition. Cucumbers, then, are great for adding a satisfying crunch to your dish – and their mild taste means that they work well alongside other, punchier ingredients.
But how can you pick out the fresh cucumbers from the rest? Again, it’s all about the touch. Normally, you see, the eye-catching fruit feels quite robust. If it’s spoiled, though, the skin will be a lot softer, and spots of mold may start to appear as well. Unsurprisingly, you should avoid adding any cucumbers that seem as though they could be rotten to your basket.
A few vegetables have quite a strong taste, and at times, this can be enough to put people off. For some, the onion falls into this category, as it certainly packs a punch when it comes to flavor – especially when raw. And it can’t be denied that the vegetable adds bite to a whole host of different dishes. But when onions are still wrapped in their papery skins, who knows what state they’re actually in?
Well, these tips should give you a good idea. If you can see that the onion is bruised or that the skin has been slashed in some way, then it’s probably best to look for another. You can also tell a lot about an onion’s freshness by the way that it smells, as a bad example will give off a pungent odor – more so than one in good condition, anyway.
5. Strawberries and blueberries
Much like raspberries and blackberries, strawberries and blueberries are a great option for when you’re looking for that sugar hit without the calories. However, both of these fruits require you to do a bit more detective work in order to decipher whether they’re still fresh at the store. In fact, your judgment may be seriously put to the test when you’re checking them over.
You may have to peer particularly closely at strawberries, for example. If they’re spoiled, their bright red skin will start to appear more weathered than usual. When it comes to blueberries, on the other hand, it’s all about judging their color. As the name suggests, the fruit turns blue at its height, so it shouldn’t display any other shade.
Now, is there a more polarizing vegetable out there than the hearty broccoli? Some people absolutely despise it, yet others welcome it with open arms. But even if you’re in that latter group, you still may not know what to look out for when trying to pick up the perfect floret. So for those who don’t, here’s some advice.
Naturally, a broccoli’s shade of green can sometimes vary. But you’ll certainly know if the vegetable is past its best, as it becomes yellowy and, in turn, stands out like a sore thumb on the shelves. Bad broccoli may also seem more withered than usual and give off a rather pungent odor.
Speaking of odors, while garlic has a very distinctive smell, it does add tons of flavor to the dishes in which you choose to use it. But as with many of the other items on this list, there are fairly obvious signs that a bulb has started to spoil. And if garlic is on your shopping list, you may want to keep these points in mind.
Once again, the color is key here. Yes, garlic is usually white, but it will start to turn brown or yellow if it’s beginning to rot. The vegetable also begins to sprout eye-catching roots when it’s lost its freshness. Should you see any of those indicators in the store, then, it’s probably best to walk away. Why not opt for garlic granules instead?
If you’re after a healthy snack, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than a banana. They can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere – both on the go and at home on some toast and peanut butter. However, you need to be aware of a few things before purchasing a bunch of bananas during a trip to the store.
A perfect banana will have a bright yellow skin complete with the odd brown mark. If there’s more brown than yellow, though, you can assume that it’s no longer at its best. But what if the fruit still has a green hue? Well, then, it’s likely to continue to ripen at home. And while a banana can be eaten before it’s at its best, many folks don’t tend to enjoy the flavor.
To round things off, then, let’s focus on pineapples. With their spiky leaves and wrinkly, patchwork skin, they’re arguably the most unique-looking fruit on the market. And, of course, pineapples are also known for being juicy and delicious when you open them up. Just like everything else that we’ve discussed so far, though, there are some red flags that you need to be aware of when purchasing the tropical plant.
You are, for instance, advised to buy pineapples that have golden skins, as they have more longevity than their equivalents with green exteriors. The leaves can be a useful indicator, too. You see, it takes a bit of effort to yank out the leaves on a good pineapple; if the fruit is rotting, however, this foliage won’t be as resistant.