"When buying fruits and vegetables, what should I look for?" my friend asked me.
Living in Norway definitely limit us from buying "picked AFTER ripen" fruits and vegetable. I remember how shocked I was to see pineapple, sold on the side of the street in Sri Lanka, or fresh dark red tomatoes in Spain... They have completely different color, aroma, and most of all, flavor.
But let's get back to reality. We rarely get "picked after ripen" fruits and vegetable here in Norway. They are mostly picked much earlier, then ripened with ethylene gas. So here are some tips - to find the best of what we have.
When buying melon:
Hold in your hand and smell it. If it smells nothing, don't buy it. You should buy one which smells "sweet".
When buying pineapple:
Pineapples that aren't picked ripen will never ripen, because the starch hasn't completely converted to sugar. Keeping the pineapple at room temperature for several days will reduce its acidity (but it won't increase the sweetness...). So when buying one, here are a few tips: Pick the leaves, and if it's stuck and won't move, don't buy it. If it falls off easily, you can hold them upside down, and smell the bottom of pineapple. If it gives sweet and tangy aroma, you can take a chance!
When buying tomato:
First, the color. You should pick ones which are firm, well shaped, richly colored (for their variety) and noticeably fragrant. And check on the stem. If they seem to contain water, they are fresh. If the stem/leaves are dried, they were picked long time ago.
When buying grape:
It's the same as tomato. Check on the stem. You should pick ones with fresh looking stem. Do not buy ones with dried, thin, stems.
When buying lettuce or salad greens:
If they look the same, take two in your hands, and check the weights. The heavier ones contains more juice and layer of leaves. So pick the heavier one.