Are fresh vegies better?

Frozen vegetables can have higher levels of important nutrients, such as vitamin C, than fresh.
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  • Updated:13 Mar 2007

05.Fruit in season

How fresh is fresh?

Getting fresh produce from the growers to your local supermarket or green grocer often involves loading and offloading from trucks and transporting over long distances. So what’s available might not be as fresh as you think. For example:

  • Apples can be up to a year old when you buy them.
  • Grapes can have been stored for over two months.
  • Even highly perishable fruit like strawberries might have been picked up to three weeks previously.

Buy in season to improve your chances of getting the freshest fruit.

Apples (best Mar – Aug)

Green applesStorage time before sale: 3 –12 months

Look for
Firm, well-coloured fruit. Check for a full apple aroma by sniffing the non-stem end.

Apricots (best Feb – Mar)

Apricots Storage time before sale: 2 weeks

Look for
Plump and juicy looking fruit with a uniform golden-orange color. Ripe apricots yield to gentle pressure on the skin.

Avocados (best all year round)

Avacado Storage time before sale: 4 weeks

Look for
Unblemished skin. Pick it up and make sure it feels heavy. Ripe ones should be just a little soft when squeezed gently.

Bananas (best all year round)

Banana Storage time before sale: 2 weeks

Look for
Firm, bright, unbruised fruit. For most people, taste is best when the skin is speckled brown. Bananas with green colouring haven’t developed their full flavour, but will continue to ripen.

Cherries (best Dec – Jan)

Cherries Storage time before sale: 4 weeks

Look for
Bright, glossy, plump-looking surfaces, stem should be green.

Grapes (best Dec – Mar)

A bunch of grapes Storage time before sale: 6 weeks

Look for
Well-coloured, plump grapes firmly attached to a green, plump stem. White or green grapes are sweetest when they have a yellowish hue, with a tinge of amber.

Honeydew melon (best Feb – Mar)

Slice of honeydew melon Storage time before sale: 4 weeks

Look for
A soft velvety texture, slight softening at the non-stem end, a faint fruity aroma and a yellowish-white to creamy rind colour.

Kiwifruit (best Mar – Jun)

Kiwifruit Storage time before sale: 3-9 months

Look for
Plump, unwrinkled fruit, either firm or slightly yielding. It’s ripe when it gives to the touch but isn’t soft. A ‘water-stained’ exterior doesn’t affect taste. Skin is edible.

Lemons (best Jun – Jul)

Lemons Storage time before sale: 4 weeks

Look for
Green, healthy calyx (where the blossom was attached). Heavy, firm fruit with a rich yellow colour and reasonably smooth skin with a slight gloss. Pale or greenish-yellow lemons are very fresh with slightly higher acidity. Course skin means not much juice.

Mandarins (best May – Oct)

Half peeled mandarin Storage time before sale: 4 weeks

Look for
Deep yellow or orange colour and a bright lustre.

Mangoes (best Dec – Feb)

Two mangoes Storage time before sale: 2 weeks

Look for
Plump with smooth skin that has at least begun to turn from green to orange/yellow or red, and a slight softness. Look for round ‘shoulders’ at the stem end, especially early in the season.

Nectarines (best Nov – Mar)

Nectarine Storage time before sale: 2-3 weeks

Look for
Rich colour and plumpness, and a slight softening along the ‘seam’. Some varieties are orange-yellow between the red areas, others are greenish. Hard, tan stains on the skin don’t affect taste.

Oranges (best all year round)

Orange Storage time before sale: 6 weeks

Look for
Firm, heavy fruit with fresh, bright-looking skin that’s smooth for the variety. Healthy, green calyx. There are two main varieties – navels (best May to October) and Valencias (best November to April). Navels tend to be sweeter and better eating.

Peaches (best Dec – Feb)

A peach Storage time before sale: 2-3 weeks

Look for
Fairly firm or a little soft. The skin between the red areas should be yellow, or at least creamy. The amount of red blush doesn’t indicate ripeness.

Pear (best Mar – Jun)

Brown style pear Storage time before sale: 2-9 months

Look for
Fruit that has begun to soften (that increases the odds that it will ripen properly).

Pineapples (best Dec)

A pineapple Storage time before sale: 3 weeks

Look for
Bright yellow-orange colour, fragrant pineapple aroma, and a very slight separation of the eyes (berry-like fruitlets that run in a spiral pattern on the skin).

Plums (best Feb – Mar)

Three plums Storage time before sale: 2-6 weeks

Look for
Plump fruit that's fairly firm to slightly soft and smells like a plum.

Rockmelon (best Feb – Mar)

Half a rockmelon Storage time before sale: 2 weeks

Look for
Ripe rockmelon has a yellowish rind, a fruity smell, and yields slightly to light thumb pressure on the non-stem end. Melons with bits of attached stem were harvested too early. Small bruises don’t normally damage the fruit.

Strawberries (best Dec – Mar)

A strawberry Storage time before sale: 2 weeks

Look for
Full red colour and bright luster, firm flesh, the stem still attached and a strong aroma. Medium to small strawberries usually taste better than larger ones. Variety is not often displayed. Camarosas are specially good.

Watermelon (best Feb)

Wedge of watermelon Storage time before sale: 3 weeks

Look for
Firm, juicy flesh with a good red colour and dark brown or black seeds (immature melons have whitish seeds). With uncut watermelon, look for a smooth, slightly dull surface. The ends should be filled-out and rounded and the underside that rests on the ground should have a creamy colour.

Table notes

The table shows when you can expect different fruit to be at its best. The dates are only an approximate guide because they'll vary from year to year depending on weather conditions. And with fruits like apples, for example, there are differences between varieties.

The storage time shows the maximum length of time for which fruit can be stored under controlled conditions. They're not necessarily stored for this long.


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