Looks can be deceiving
I’m instantly attracted. What’s not to like? It’s bright, shiny, and beautifully orange. I place it in a bag. Then, I smugly, pick a few more with similar qualities. I have the pick of the batch. I can’t wait to get a taste. Once home, I peel one. To my dismay, the orange is pithy, tasteless, and dry. I’ve had one too many bad experiences with selecting the best looking piece of fruit to discover that it’s not the best.
I started a little experiment. I chose oranges and grapefruits that aren’t particularly the best looking and have a few minor blemishes. Surprisingly, I’ve had some really good luck with these picks. I read somewhere that oranges are sometimes sprayed with color. Spraying the oranges with color makes them more attractive. When consumers think of an orange, they typically think it should be deeply orange and shiny. But, that’s not always the case. For a number or reasons, oranges don’t always have a deep orange hue. Since most consumers haven’t seen oranges straight from the tree or very closely thereafter — we’re clueless on what a freshly picked orange looks like. Our notions are preconceived.
Our notion of food comes from perfect packages and boxes. Those Nabisco snack crackers were manufactured, and always have the same shape and taste. So, it’s a little understandable, but unrealistic to expect fresh fruit to have the same perfect, appealing look. Fruit is a product of nature: Each piece, each berry has grown in soil and under different conditions. It’s especially hard to pick fruit now-a-days because it’s shipped from far away and seasons don’t really matter much. Which alters the appearance and even the smell of the fruit. Sure, we can expect the taste will seemingly be the same, but you just never know when choosing fruit.
In putting together my upcoming cookbook, I asked an outside contributor for her Berry Freezer Jam recipe. She obliged and even added this nice anecdote: “It goes without saying (but perhaps you should add it anyway) that fresh, ripe, in-season fruit is the best way to go here. And usually the berries that are the most hideous looking taste the best. The big red strawberries at the grocery store pale next to the tiny, bright red misshapen yet perfectly flavored berry farm berries. It’s not all about looks on the berry farm.”
Caution: When selecting fruit. It’s not about the looks. Looks can be deceiving.