Top Purchasing and Storage Tips

FRUIT

Apricots – Choose plump apricots with golden to deep orange – coloured skin and a sweet fragrance. Avoid hard apricots and those with green skin around the stem as this indicates the fruit is immature. Leave apricots in a single layer at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, until they yield to gently pressure.

Bananas – Bananas are harvested green and ripened under controlled temperatures. Choose bananas by the bunch at different stages of ripeness so that they do not all ripen once. To speed up the ripening process, store bananas in a brown bag.

Blue Berries – Select plump blueberries with deep purple-blue skin and a delicate silvery-grey bloom. Check the underside of punnets and avid berries with withering skin or signs of mould. Remove packaging, place unwashed blueberries in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towel. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Cherries – Choose plump, shiny cherries with their green stems still attached. Colour varies from white to bright red to black, depending on the variety. Store cherries, unwashed with the stems attached, in a plastic bag in the fridge. Wash just prior to eating. Use within 3 days.

Grapes – Grapes do not ripen off the vine, tasting a grape is the best indicator of flavour. Choose plump, firm grapes by the bunch. Avoid grapes with split skin or bruising. Wash just before eating.

Nashi – Nashi is a type of pear which is picked ripe and ready to eat. Although a pear, nashi is round in shape like an apple and has a crisp, juicy flesh, skin colour varies with variety. Choose firm nashi that feels heavy for its size and is free from soft spots or bruising.

Packham Pears – Consider the fruits ripening time. This slow-ripening, firm pear will take 3-7 days to fully ripen at room temperature. Its’ green skin will lighten and turn yellowish in colour when ripe. The Packham pear is ready to eat when it yields to gentle pressure near the stem.

Pawpaw and Papaya – Firm, golden coloured pawpaw and papaya with a tropical aroma is best. Skin should be free of soft spots. Leave to ripen for a few days at room temperature. If cut, choose pawpaw with vibrant-coloured flesh.

Peaches – Select plump, full-coloured peaches with a sweet perfume. Avoid hard fruit with green skin around the stem. Peaches soften when left at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Store in a single layer as stacking may result in bruising. Ripe fruit yields to gentle pressure. Store ripe fruit in the fridge and use within 2 days.

Pineapples – Select a pineapple with a pleasant fragrance that feels heavy for its size. Skin colour or ‘pulling a leaf from the top’ is not a good indication of ripeness or quality. Skin colour varies with variety.

Strawberries – Choose full-coloured strawberries with stems intact. Strawberries keep best when removed from their punnets, placed on paper towels on a platter and covered with plastic wrap. This helps prevent the berries becoming squashed and moulding quickly.

Valencia Oranges – Valencia oranges are in season from mid spring to late autumn. Select plump firm fruit that feels heavy for its size. Greening skin occurs on the tree and develops as a natural part of the ripening process. Green skin does not affect the quality of flavour. Store oranges at room temperature out of direct sunlight and in a well-ventilated place. Use within 1 week. To extend storage, keep oranges in the fridge and use within 1 month.

Watermelon – Watermelon is picked ripe and ready to eat. Select firm whole watermelon that feels heavy for its size. Choose cut watermelon with bright-coloured firm flesh. Store watermelon in a cool place away from direct sunlight for up to 2 weeks. Once cut, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge.

VEGETABLE

Avocado – Store avocados out of direct sunlight at room temperature until the flesh gives at the stem and when gently pressed. Once ripe, store avocados in the fridge and use as soon as possible.

Baby Spinach – Leaves are perfect to add to a variety of sandwiches. Store the leaves, unwashed in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2 days. Don’t pack too tightly as the greens will bruise and sweat. Wash and dry spinach leaves in salad spinner just before serving.

Broad beans – Choose small, firm green broad beans with full but not over-bulging pods. Smaller younger pods yield more tender beans. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the fridge.

Capsicums – Choose plump firm capsicums with shiny skin and well developed colour. Red, orange and yellow capsicums are sweeter than green ones and ideal for kids. Store capsicums in the crisper section of the fridge and use within 5 days.

Carrots – When selecting carrots choose bright coloured carrots and avoid split or damaged carrots. Store carrots in a plastic bag and use within 5 days. Carrots will develop a bitter taste if stored near apples, bananas or melons.

Cucumbers – Store cucumbers in the vegetable crisper in the fridge. Don’t store in plastic bags as they sweat. Use within 4-5 days. Store cucumbers separately from fruit, as the gas given off by the fruit will cause the cucumbers to soften.

Eggplant – Select firm, glossy eggplant that feels heavy for its size. Void dull eggplant and those with soft spots. Shape, skin colour and size varies depending variety. Store eggplants in the crisper section of the fridge. Use within 4 days.

Ginger – Choose dry, plump, firm ginger. Avoid ginger with withering skin. For ease of peeling, select ginger which is least knobbly. Wrap in foil and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or peel and place in a jar, cover with ginger wine or sherry and store in the fridge.

Mushrooms (flat) – Choose fully – opened flat mushrooms with creamy – white caps and chocolate-brown caps and chocolate brown gills. Store mushrooms in a paper bag on the lowest shelf in the fridge. Mushrooms will sweat if stored in plastic bags. Use within 4-5 days.

Potatoes – A cool, dark, well ventilated spot is a great place to store potatoes from plastic bags before storing. Exposure to light will cause harmful greening and refrigeration may cause flesh to brown when cooked. Use within 2 weeks.

Snow pea – Choose crisp-looking snow pea sprouts with bright green tips and white stems. Check the underside of the punnet and avoid sweaty sprouts and those with yellowing tips. Store snow pea sprouts in their punnet in the fridge.

Sweet Corn – Purchase firm sweetcorn cobs with fresh-looking green husks. Pull back the husks and insert your fingernail into a kernel, it’s ultra-fresh if it’s spirts a milky liquid.

Tomatoes – Do not store tomatoes in the fridge until fully ripened. Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for their flavour to fully develop. This may take from 2-7 days, depending on quality and level of ripeness. If refrigerating ripe tomatoes, remove from fridge a few hours before serving for optimum flavour.

Zucchini – Choose firm green or yellow zucchini with undamaged skin. Small to medium sized zucchini tend to have the most flavour. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge or loose in the crisper section.

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