How to Choose Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
You can have a state of the art BBQ appliance, a well thought out menu, and the most gorgeous backyard as the setting for the occasion, but the success of your BBQ meal also relies on the use of fresh produce. Here are some basic tips on how to choose fresh fruit and vegetables.
Let’s start with some of the more common produce for the BBQ…
- Garlic bulbs should look big, firm and not shriveled. The white paper skin should be intact.
- Corn that is ripe and sweet should have bright green, moist husks. If possible, eat corn on the day it is purchased as the gradual conversion from sugar to starch in corn begins once it is picked.
- Potatoes should be smooth, firm and unbruised.
- Eggplants should be firm with smooth skin. If you gently push the skin with your finger and the mark remains, it is overripe.
- Asparagus should have green, straight stalks with firm tips.
- Red and green peppers should have skin that is smooth and firm with no marks/bruises.
- Lettuce should not be discoloured and should have crisp, unblemished leaves.
- Zucchinis should be firm with dark skin, not soft and wrinkled.
- Onions should be heavy, dry and show no form of sprouting.
- Pineapples should smell sweet, have fresh, green leaves and feel firm to the touch. Soft spots and brown leaves are not a good sign. Unlike some other fruits, pineapples will not continue to ripen or get sweeter after picked.
Some other things to consider…
- The rules above can be applied to most other fruit and vegetables.
- Some people do like to purchase underripe fruit to ripen at home so they can cook/eat in their own time. To do this, place the fruit in a paper bag and seal loosely. Store at room temperature until ripened to your liking.
- Don’t substitute the paper bag with a plastic bag (although it may be a bit more convenient) as fruits need to “breath” to ripen. Using a plastic bag will not allow this.
- Where possible, use local produce that is in season in your area.
And of course, we always recommend you BBQ over briquettes as the high, dry heat produced by cooking over coals (vs gas) does a better job of caramelising the plant sugars in fruit and vegetables. YUM!