How to choose veggies

Some fresh produce can be tricky to buy - especially when you can't see what's on the inside. Tai Seng Yee, executive director of Zenxin Agri-organic Food in Singapore, tells you how to get it right every time.

1 Cabbages

Look For: One that's small and heavy - it's fresher, juicier and has more layers.

2 Onions

Look For: A dry and papery skin that is intact and free of black patches. Check that the tops have not sprouted, which could point to old stock and moisture exposure.

3 Bittergourd

Look For: A plump and voluptuous gourd with shallow grooves - signs that it is mature and at its most flavourful.

4 Ginger

Look For: Bright and shiny skin, with no black spots. However, the only way to gauge the intensity of the flavour is to break off a knob and smell it.

5 Cauliflower and Broccoli

Look For: Tight, firm and fresh-smelling florets. Give it a sniff - there should be no hint of decaying odour.

6 Lady's Finger

Look For: Dark green ones with no brown or black patches. Choose small ones if you'll be steaming or stir-frying them - they are more tender, but more gooey. Larger ones are older and tougher, and are better for stews and curries.

7 Sweet Potatoes

Look For: Small ones, which are sweeter and have a more intense flavour. The skin should be free of coin-sized black marks, which may indicate that the tubers have been farmed in soil that's too wet (from too much rain) - the flesh is likely to turn black when cut.

8 Asparagus

Look For: Firm and green stalks, especially at the ends. As the tips are the first to turn bad, check that they are compact and not decayed.

Tip: Choose produce like melons, gourds and corn that are heavy for their size - lighter ones could have lost their moisture and may be less fresh.

This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2014.

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