buying tips

When ever possible, try to buy ingredients and not products. By that I mean, fresh instead of processed. Think read more...

of it this way, wouldn’t you be shocked if you discovered that your favourite restaurant was serving you food which came out of packets instead of freshly cooked? Well practice the same sort of criticism when it comes to your own cooking.

Buying meat:
When buying meat, buy the best quality you can afford and choose meat with a little layer of fat read more...

or marbling. Lean meat is mostly muscle fibre which, in its self is made up mostly of water. The flavour carrying or aroma molecules are in the fat. You don’t have to eat the fat but it is essential to distribute flavour during the cooking process. The more expensive cuts of meat might be more delicate but the less expensive cuts often hold more flavour and if cooked slowly are equally as delicious.

When buying steaks, it is better to buy one thick steak and share it than two thin steaks. Look for dark steaks rather than bright red ones. The darker steaks have been aged in a controlled environment which concentrates the flavour and makes the flesh more tender. The bright red ones usually contain much more water and can be a bit  disappointing.

Buying chicken:
When buying chicken, buy a whole chicken if possible. Roast it whole or use the parts you need and read more...

make soups or curries from the rest. The modern trend towards eating just chicken breasts often results in the remaining parts being frozen and sold off cheaply to poorer countries where they are sold on street markets, defrosting in the sun under dreadful conditions. Our under priced, industrially produced chicken, is then cheaper than it can be produced locally and this generally leads to the collapse of the local chicken farming industries, the loss of employment and, due to the conditions under which it is sold, an increase in foodborne diseases.

Buying Fish:
When buying fresh fish, here is what you should look for. The eyes should be clear and not cloudy, read more...

the gills should be bright red, the skin should be shiny and moist and the flesh should feel firm when you poke it.

When buying fresh fish fillets or steaks, the flesh should be well trimmed, moist, firm, slightly glassy and compact.

When buying frozen fish, make sure the packet hasn’t been damaged and there is no sign of freezer burn.

Fresh fish can be kept in the refrigerator until the next day but should be consumed as fast as possible. Frozen fish should be kept at -18°C and should be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator.

Buying vegetables:
When buying vegetables, try to buy what is in season and locally produced as this generally guarantees that they read more...

are fresh. I am not sure if there is any proof that organically produced vegetables are more nutritious but the method in which they are farmed is better for the environment and that is something worth supporting.

Fresh versus frozen? Well fresh is always best but frozen is an alternative. Vegetables start to loose nutritional value from the moment they are picked and the longer they have to travel, the less nutritiously valuable they will be. Fresh vegetables have two major advantages over their frozen friends, the look and the texture is better. Most frozen vegetables are sorted, cleaned, blanched and shock frozen within hours of having been picked and loose very little of their nutritious value in the process. Peas, beans, spinach and kale all freeze well but many vegetables loose their bite when frozen.

Tins and Jars? Tinned plum tomatoes are very useful for sauces and soups and in winter are often better than the watery greenhouse alternative. Jars of pickled gherkins, onions, capers and artichokes, to name a few, have a long standing tradition and not only taste good but are often a vital source of vitamin c. However, most fruit or vegetables sold in tins or jars contain too much sugar or salt and sometimes too much of both.