Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
Heaps of colourful fruit and veggies line the fresh produce aisles of supermarkets and wet markets. As you prepare to choose your fruit and vegetables, a question pops into mind, “how do I know if the fruit or vegetable I’m picking is the best?”
Fruits are also a convenient and healthy snack for when the craving hits. Whether you’re making meal plans with optimum nutrition for yourself or nutrition for your children, be sure to put a fruit on the menu.
Related: Organic Food — Is It Better for You?
There are many clues to indicate when a fruit is at its best. Here are some tips on what to look out for:
Examples: Mangosteen, mango, dragonfruit, papaya and pineapple
Gently press a mangosteen. You’ll want those that can be pressed in slightly
Mangoes are slightly soft when ripe, usually with an intense fragrance
A ripe dragonfruit is evenly pink with fresh-looking petals and a soft stem
Papayas are yellow when fully ripe and are slightly soft when pressed. Pick one that is heavy for its size
Ripe pineapples are tricky to find. Look for yellower ones with a pleasant aroma at the stem end
Examples: Orange, grapefruit, pomelo and kiwi
Firm, bright-looking with finely-textured peel
Gives off a strong fragrance
Redder grapefruits and pomelos with a yellow tinge tend to be sweeter
Choose navel oranges if you like seedless and sweet oranges
Kiwis are slightly soft when ripe and have taut skin
Examples: Watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe
Ripe watermelons look dull, not shiny and have dried stem ends. Look for the cream-coloured patch on the skin where they rested on the ground before harvest — the deeper the colour, the better it is
Netted melons such as rock melons and cantaloupes give off an intense fragrance when they are fully ripe. Their rinds are raised while the skin beneath becomes golden
Unfortunately, the baby-skinned honeydew does not wear a scent when they peak. Instead, look for a yellow tinge in their waxy exterior
The stem end of melons can be pressed in gently when they are ripe
Examples: Strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry
Choose blueberries that are plump, brightly-coloured with a whitish bloom. Shake the container of blueberries gently. If the berries don’t move freely, they may be soft or damaged
Buy strawberries that give off a strong scent, an indication that they are sweet and ripe
Look for shiny and firm blackberries
Raspberries should be firm, plump and deeply-coloured
Store blackberries and raspberries in a single layer as they bruise easily
Berries don’t stay fresh beyond a few days, so eat them fast! If not, freeze them for frozen sweet treats
Examples: Plum, peach, nectarine and apricot
Select stone fruit with firm skin that is not wrinkled
Softer fruit are sweeter and juicier. Leave them to ripen before refrigeration
A deeper colour is a hint of ripeness, especially around the stem end
Examples: Apple, pear, passionfruit, grapes
Apples and pears should be firm and smooth-skinned
A ripe passionfruit is plump, heavy for its size and wrinkled
Look for plump grapes with a whitish bloom and healthy brown stems that still hold the fruit firmly
Vegetables from plant parts such as the root and stem can be kept longer than leafy greens, so plan ahead. Here are tips on how to shop for veggies:
Examples: Green leafy vegetables, broccoli and lettuce
Leafy vegetables such as spinach should have bright, green leaves and tender, crisp stems
Fresh broccolis have compact, green florets and undamaged stems
Lettuce leaves should be crisp and bright
Examples: Carrot, capsicum, chilli and sweet potato
Pick slim, medium-sized carrots which are well-formed and bright
Capsicums and chilli should be firm, deeply-coloured and glossy
Avoid sweet potatoes with stringed “beards” as they are older and less tasty! Pick small to medium-sized ones with even tones
Examples: French bean, snow pea, sweet pea and dried beans
Edible bean pods such as french beans and snow peas taste better when they are tender and crisp with smaller beans within them
Sweet peas are firm and crisp; they should not bend
Dried beans should be free from mold, insects or discoloration
Examples: Potato, corn and yam
Choose potatoes which are firm and have fewer “eyes”. They should not have any sprouts
Look for bright and plump corn kernels when buying an ear of corn
A lighter yam (or taro) is a better pick as it has less water and more likely to be “powdery”. When choosing yam that has been cut, look for the ones with more red veins inside
Examples: Cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant and lady’s finger
A good cabbage should be firm or even hard
Tender asparagus are bright green with tightly closed spears that have darker green or purplish tips
Cauliflower heads should be firm and compact with no brown spots
If you are buying the longer variety of eggplant (or brinjal), hold it up and test if it is springy (and young) by flicking it gently
Smaller and shorter lady’s fingers are younger and crisper
To enjoy the best from fruits and veggies, choose a variety and try different ways of cooking and eating them. Don’t forget to eat two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables each day. They keep you glowing and healthy naturally!
This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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