Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Choose Fresh Fruit

Eating the proper amounts and the right kinds of fruits is important to healthy living. Nutritionists recommend eating a minimum of five one cup servings of each per day. To make sure you select healthy fruits and avoid that of questionable quality, here are a few basic tips in your selection.

Though seems so simple, buying fruit can be complex. That's why if you look closely at most any grocery store produce section you'll notice people squeezing, sniffing and examining their fruit very carefully.

The first rule to know is that the fresher the produce the better the quality. The best place to find the freshest and best selection of produce is at farmer's markets. Most farmers harvest their produce the day before or the day of the market. They also usually use minimal pesticides. This fact in itself provides you with better health while protecting the environment.

If you are not fortunate enough to have access to a farmer's market, just go to the grocery store and take care to pick only the healthiest produce. You need to use this grocery store produce within a few days. Try to locate a grocery store that has frequent deliveries of produce. Avoid grocery stores that have an extremely cold produce section. This makes it hard to check the texture and scent of produce. Convenience and corner stores more often than not have produce of poor quality due to the fact that it is not delivered fresh daily or it is not properly stored. Here is some of those fruits.

Bananas. Unlike most other fruits, bananas develop their best eating quality after they are harvested. This allows bananas to be transported great distances. Bananas are sensitive to cool temperatures and will be injured in temperatures below 55 F. For this reason, they should never be kept in the freezer. The ideal temperature for ripening bananas is between 60 and 70 F. Higher temperatures cause them to ripen too quickly.

Look for bananas which are firm, bright, and free from bruises or other injury. The state of ripeness is indicated by skin color. Best eating quality has been gained when the solid yellow color is specked with brown. At this time, the flesh is mellow and the flavor is fully developed. Bananas with green tips or with no yellow color have not developed their full flavor potential. Avoid bruised fruit (indicating rapid deterioration and waste); discolored skins (a sign of decay); a dull, grayish, aged appearance (showing that the bananas have been exposed to cold and will not ripen properly).

Oranges: When looking for a ripe orange, don't worry about color. Oranges with green or brown patches can be just as ripe (and some very orange oranges are even injected with food coloring to get that bright color). For the best flavor, seek for a firm, heavy orange with a thin, smooth skin.

The freshness of a bunch of grapes can be seen in the stem. If the stem is still green all the way to the grapes then their harvest was recent. A bunch with dried stems and soft, wrinkled or leaking grapes is decaying. Grapes do not ripen after harvest and should be served or freezed in an open container.

Cantaloupe: Be choosy when picking a cantaloupe because they're often picked while still unripe so they're not crushed during transportation. You can spot an unripe cantaloupe by its green tones. Instead, look for a cream-colored cantaloupe (with no green patches) that has a little soft end (the end opposite the stem). Also, give it a sniff and choose one that smells little sweet (but not overly so, which could mean it's too ripe).

Mangoes: Finding a ripe mango can be tricky because they can be yellow, red, green or orange in color. Those that are ready to eat will usually have a yellow hue and should be slightly soft to the touch. Ripe mangoes also have a sweet aroma near the stem end.

Berries should be brightly colored, plump and fragrant. To be sure the batch is good make sure the container hasn’t been stained or damp. Berries should not be handled much and only washed if necessary as that speeds mold. Berries have a very short shelf-life and should be consumed or refrigerated. They are best kept in layers on paper towels, covered by a moist paper towel or in an open paper bag. The smaller the size, the better the flavor.

Apples: A ripe apple will be firm and deeply colored. Apples should smell sweet and have strong, smooth and shiny skin. Apples can be stored in a freezer for some weeks. Depending on the variety, there should also be a slight rosy tone (such as with yellow and green apples). If you want to find apples with better flavor, buy them during apple season, which spans from late summer to early winter.

Papaya: Papayas with a red-orange skin are ripe and ready to eat. Those with yellow patches are still good, but will take a few days to ripen. Avoid papayas that are green or very hard, as they're not fully ripe and won't have a sweet flavor. May this information useful.

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