How to Read a Fruit

During the lush bounty of September the best-looking fruits can often be a bitter disappointment; so what are the colours and textures you should you be looking for?


Why is it that the best looking fruits are often the most disappointing? You pick up a bright red tomato, expecting great things, and the next thing you know, you’re wincing at the floury texture and acidity. Why? Because most people, according greengrocers-in-the-know, choose fruit for all the wrong reasons. So what is it you should you be looking for?

A fruit that’s seen a lot of sunshine will have a lot of colour - which means lots of sugary sweetness. Jane Scotter, who runs Fern Verrow, a biodynamic farm in Herefordshire, says it’s all about finding fruit that emits a “bloom”. Which sounds magical - and elusive. What exactly is it? “It’s the way a fruit shines when it’s really fresh, when it’s just been picked. You can see the sunshine radiating out it - it blushes like your cheeks,” she explains. Bloom it is.

Another no-go is uniformity. A box laden with figs that are all the same size, colour and texture might look the part, but it’s actually a sign that the fruit isn’t going to taste pretty boring. By contrast, knobbles, scarring, blemishes, anything that’s a little bit ugly, are a good indicator that a fruit is bursting with flavour. “Like humans, every fruit should look different,” says Adam Smith, a fruit and vegetable buyer for the online food delivery company Natoora. “If a tray of tomatoes are good, some will be bright red, others will have a yellowness to them. Varied colourings tell you everything.

”With soft autumnal fruits like figs, cracks are the equivalent of a fruit screaming out to be picked and gobbled up: they’re the marker of ripeness and a honey-like inside.

And then there’s smell. Head to a market in France or Italy, and you’ll find no one buys anything without picking it up, giving it a good sniff before making a suitable grunt. A tasty apricot will smell of apricot. If it’s shrivelled with a saggy skin and no aroma, it’s probably be stuck in a fridge, which never does good things to fruit: cold temperatures cause fruit to shiver inside, which gives them a nasty, filmy texture.

Essentially, when it comes to fruit, like most things in life, perfection is a sure-sign of blandness.