• How to Pick the Freshest Ingredients for Your Pizza

    Renowned Chef Julia Child once said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” While many individuals may attribute a delicious meal to the amount of salt and pepper seasoning, the secret lies in the “freshness” of the ingredients. 

    Fresh ingredients contain all the savor, sweetness, taste, and experience, especially when it comes to making the perfect pizza. In fact, many chefs develop slicing and cutting techniques just to make sure the “freshness” stays in the ingredient before it is added to the meal. Chef Gordon Ramsay has lectured many times on the importance of cutting vegetables in a fashion where the “goodness” is not left on the board, but in the meal.

    How does a person know if a fruit or vegetable is fresh? 

    Journalist Carl Honore wrote, “There is so much to be gained from investing more time in what we eat. Buying fresh ingredients means knowing where your food comes from and what’s in it.” 

    We would like to additionally add that knowing how long the ingredient has traveled to get to the store, and how long it has been at the store are fantastic indicators of “freshness.” 

    Where the Food Has Traveled

    Of course, your food will be freshest when it is locally grown. Food that travels from China to California will not be as fresh compared to a food traveling from a state near California, or California itself. However, The New York Times recently noted:

    Imported produce is also sometimes fresher than the domestic equivalent. In spring, newly harvested Gala apples from New Zealand may be crunchier than the same variety from American orchards, which were picked the previous fall. And some imports are simply superb, like flavorful pink seedless muscat grapes from Chile, now in season.

    Regardless of the exceptions, The New York Times was quick to add that it is more likely for a food to be unripe, mangled, or picked improperly.

    What Is Inside the Food?

    It’s what’s on the inside counts. 

    This statement not only applies to people, but to food as well. 

    As mentioned previously, the freshness of an ingredient makes a huge difference when it comes to savor and taste. This means preservatives are a big “No, No.” Going without them, however, can be difficult. BBC wrote on the topic of “additives” by saying:

    Richard Hammond, the presenter of Should I Worry About…?, tried to avoid all additives and found it extremely difficult. Additives are used in nearly all processed foods. Preservatives keep things from going off, while emulsifiers and stabilisers are used to stop dressings and sauces from separating out. Colourings and flavourings tend to be used to replace colours and flavours that can be lost when food is processed.

    In essence, if the ingredient you are buying looks too “perfect” to be real, it probably contains preservatives. While it may be impossible to avoid all preservatives, do your best to make sure the ingredients you are buying contain the least amount possible. 

    LiveStrong advised the following when it comes to shopping for foods with no preservatives: 

    A diet focused on natural, organic food is essential to maintaining a healthy body, but the majority of food is laced with preservatives to make it last longer on supermarket shelves…Organic foods contain no preservatives and can be found in many supermarkets, while farmers’ markets should offer preservative-free meat, fruit and vegetables.

    How Long Has It Been There?

    Chef Gordon Ramsay once said that “the perfect pepper must be smooth and firm and not a wrinkle in sight.” Expert Fred Foster suggested that fresh mushrooms can be noticed not by the “metallic” smell, but by the whiteness of the “gills” inside the mushroom. He also added that once a mushroom is “cut,” it begins to go bad. So, make sure you know how long the mushroom has been there. 

    Each fruit and vegetable contains a shelf life. The smells, colors, and texture can quickly note that. However, if you want a full list of the shelf life of different kinds of fruits and vegetables, click here.