When you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at a market, do you avoid the ones with bruises or blemishes? We understand. But do looks really matter when it comes to choosing produce? Not necessarily! Did you know that it is estimated that one-third of the food humans produce globally gets thrown out, because it often doesn’t meet the cosmetic standards people have come to expect? Our friends at Steve & Dan’s Fresh BC Fruit have offered their insight into ‘ugly fruit’ and when it is still safe to eat. 

Small blemishes on fruit are natural and some produce are just “naturally ugly”. At the farm, not all fruit grows equal, but that does not mean they are any less nutritious and delicious. In fact, sometimes the volatility and imperfections in your fruit speak to how natural and untampered with they are. We are used to seeing picture perfect fruit at the grocery store, but that is often the result of pesticides and chemicals. Another factor that can lead to imperfections is transportation – bringing fruit from BC to Edmonton can result in some blemishes (as much as we try and avoid it). As well, weather can have a strong effect on the appearance of fruit – such as an early frost or a heat wave (like we recently had). 

What we’re saying is that this is all completely normal. So, how do you know if an ugly piece of fruit is safe to eat? Fruits and veggies with hard skins like apples, oranges, and cucumbers are sturdier. Even if you drop them on the ground (which happens to the best of us), they are still safe to eat. More or less, when you see that this kind of produce has cuts or bruises, it is still safe to consume. For soft fresh produce like berries, peaches, and plums, they are very fragile and blemish easily. As a rule of thumb, if they smell sweet, that means they are still fine to eat! 

To give your fresh produce a longer life span, try these tricks:

  • Keep your hard and soft produce in separate bags when purchasing at a market. This will help prevent bruising in transport. 
  • Store your produce dry. Too much moisture can encourage mold or mushiness. Ensure you thoroughly dry anything you’re washing before putting it away. 
  • Separate your gassy produce. Some fruits and veggies – like apples, ripe bananas, pears, and potatoes – produce a gas called ethylene that accelerates the ripening process of other fruits and vegetables. For this reason, if you want something to ripen quickly, store it with your ripe bananas. But if you’re trying to prolong lifespans, keep everything as separate as you can. 
  • Once your fruit is ripe, move it to the fridge, where you can essentially press pause on the ripening process. This is a short-term solution but it will buy you an extra 2-3 days. 
  • Berries go mouldy very easily. First, check if there are any blemished ones and eat those immediately. For the remaining berries, mix a bit of vinegar in water and soak the berries to kill any spores that are present. After that, take them out to dry and store them in the fridge or freezer. 
  • Did you know that you can even freeze some of your fresh produce? Let the fruit reach the desired stage of ripeness, peel and cut into pieces, and freeze in a single later on a parchment-lined sheet tray until solid. Store in a resealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Steve & Dan’s even sells their frozen berries throughout the winter months for you to enjoy all year long.

Now it’s time for you to grab some fresh (and maybe imperfect) fruit! You can find Steve & Dan’s products at farmers’ markets throughout the city and at their new farm store. They also have a  weekly fruit Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box for the summer. Check out their website for more information and to sign up!

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