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?
NATURES RICH PALETTE
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.