You might poke some pears and knock on the occasional pumpkin, but do you really know how to pick the best fruits and vegetables at the markets?

We spoke to supermarket personnel and farmers alike to get to the bottom of produce selection. With these combined tips from the commercial side and agricultural side, youll never end up with a lemon again.


Well do this alphabetically. First, apples! Bad apples look bad, so you should be fine. But keep in mind that the intended use of the apple is critical. For example, Pink Lady and Fiji are best for eating by themselves but Granny Smith is best for cooking (pies, etc.).


Next, avocados. Avocado-buyers, avoid the light green ones and go for the darker ones. It darkens as it ripens, so if you want to use it the day you buy it, choose a black one. If you want to use it in a couple days, go for a dark green. Wed also like to note that most people know to squeeze avocados to test ripeness, but they generally do it wrong. The avocado should not be squeezed around the middle at its thickest point, but rather at the top where its pointy. If you squeeze it there and it gives just the slightest bit, its ripe.


Moving right along to bananas. The main thing to look for is bruising, because if the peel is visibly bruised, the flesh is likely to be. Also, keep in mind that the longer you leave the banana, the sweeter it becomes. They also change from green to yellow as they ripen, so pick bananas that have just turned from green (or are still tinged with green if you want to keep them for a couple days) if you want a more subtle banana flavour; pick the yellower ones if you like your bananas more potent and intend to eat them quickly.


As for capsicums, its hard to go wrong. The only stand-out attributes to check for are firmness and blemishes. This is true with both sweet capsicums and hot peppers. If you intend to stuff the capsicum, thicker walls are best, which you can detect by feeling its give.


When going for garlic, our farmer friends offer a handy tip: the larger the bulb, the easier it is to peel the skin off, so go for big bulbed bunches to avoid tedious flake-by-flake peeling. Its easy to tell when garlic has gone bad because it starts smelling awful.


Oh, and onions! Choosing onions is straightforward. They should be firm and free from blemishes and like garlic, onions stink when they go bad. Lastly, never let your guard down around onions because theyre known to make people cry.


And oranges, of course. Its difficult to judge a single orange because farmers use the inside flesh to determine ripenessa pale interior means its been picked too early. However, weight can be an indictor, too; if its nice and hefty, that means its especially juicy. Also, the skin of an orange gets smoother with age, so thats one way to judge it. Overall, you want an orange with a deep, even colour that has a bit of weight to it.


To pick the perfect pear, keep in mind that a lot of pear varieties change colour as they ripen. Many will start out green and turn yellow as they mature, which is when theyre ready for eating.


And finally, the humble potato. Potatoes last a long time, so you should be in the clear. Keep in mind that potatoes dont like light, so to keep them at their best, store them in a dark place like a cupboard or pantry.


513 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000 |(03) 9320 5822

Victoria Markets: Unofficial Produce Guide
You might poke some pears and knock on the occasional pumpkin, but do you really know how to pick the best fruits and vegetables at the Victoria markets?
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