All cereal and pulse products like wheat flour, semolina, vermicelli, broken wheat, Bengal gram flour, and some fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, aonla, apples, pumpkin, roots and tubers, yams, potatoes, onions, garlic fall under category of semi-perishable foods. Non-perishable foods include preserved food products (canned, dried, pickled etc.), whole cereal, pulse and millet grains, oilseeds, nuts, fats and oils, honey, sugar, jaggery, salt, whole spices and essence.
Cereals, pulses and oilseeds:
While buying cereal grains, pulses and oilseeds following points should be considered:
- Whole grain cereals, dals and whole pulses are selected on the basis of their appearance, feel, colour and variety. The grains are inspected for uniform size, cleanliness, soundness of grain, absence of broken pieces, freedom from insect infestation, absence of admixture with foreign seeds and trash, dirt, mud, stones and sand.
- The grain can be chewed to detect the texture and flavour. Hollow, soft fibrous texture indicates deterioration in quality. Sour or rancid flavour and odour indicate spoilage during storage.
- Grains should be free from added colouring matter, moulds, fungus or insects, obnoxious substances, discolouration, poisonous seeds and all other impurities like rodent hair and excreta etc.
- Look for plump looking kernels which are not broken, shrivelled, or insect eaten.
- Cereal grains should be sweet, hard, clean, wholesome, uniform in size, shape, colour and in sound merchantable condition. Ensure that the grains are sound and dried; clean, free from foreign matter i.e. dust, stone, lumps of earth, twigs, chaff, stem or straw, dirt, gravel etc. and any other impurity including non-edible seeds.
- Cereal flours especially pearl millet flour should be freshly ground and should be free from any rancid smell. Ensure that the cereal flour (wheat, jowar, maize) is free from insects, lumps and moulds.
- Nuts and oilseeds must be free from any absorbed or rancid odour and flavour. Freedom from moisture, during storage, is very important to avoid spoilage.
Wheat is processed for making wheat flour, semolina, wheat grits etc. Wheat flour is used for making bread, chapatti, biscuits etc. The quality requirements of wheat for various products like chapatti, bread, biscuit and pasta are different.
- Good quality broken wheat(dalia)is indicated by sweet taste and an absence of sour, mouldy odour and flavour.
- Semolina(suji or rawa)is selected on the basis of uniformity of size, freedom from oxidised or mouldy odour, grit or bran.
- Good quality refined wheat flour (maida)is free from insect infestation, bad odours and lump formation.
- For bread making, hard wheat (Triticum durum) varieties such as Bansi and Bakshi (tough grain with 11-15 per cent protein) should be selected as they contain strong gluten and more than 12.0 per cent protein.
- For biscuit making, one should select varieties which contain weak gluten and less than 9.0 per cent protein. Khapli variety of wheat is in demand nationally to make biscuits as it has more protein and less starch.
- For pasta products, hard wheat with strong gluten, more than 12.5 per cent protein is required. Wheat varieties like Sarbati, Lok -1, Sehore (also known as Lahandosh or Chandoshi), Bansi, Bakshi, Khapli, and Black Wheat have excellent chapat>ti making quality.
Rice is used in various kinds of processed products like rice flakes, puffed rice, papads, extruded products. The criteria for selection of rice for making such products is given in following text.
- Rice flakes should be free from bran, broken particles, fragments of the seed coat, insects, stones, trash and bad odour.
- Puffed rice is selected for crispness, freedom from stones, seed coats, sand and dirt. High amylase varieties of rice are not suitable for making puffed rice.
Preserved products like dehydrated products such as papad, wadi etc. prepared from pulses. Roasted chana dal is selected for crisp texture, sweet flavour and absence of flat flavour.
For selection of good quality fats and oils, one must look for following points:
- Ensure that the fats and oils are clean and free from any solid particles, dirt, dust and bad odour. Criteria for selection of crude oil are presence of the natural characteristic aroma, natural colour, clarity, freedom from admixture with other kinds of oils, freedom from solid particles and flat or rancid odour.
- Do not buy oils/ fats loose from the market, as they might be adulterated. Instead buy oil packaged in tin or poly-jars.
- Refined oils have a longer shelf-life than unrefined oils of the same kind.
Packaged food items:
Packaged food items carry date of manufacture or expiry dates to help assure quality. The most commonly used open dates seen on the food products are as under:
Refrigerated food should feel cold and frozen food should be frozen solid.
- Sell by date: This is the last recommended day of sale. The date allows for home storage and use.
- Use by date: This tells how long the product will retain top quality after one buys it.
- Expiration date: This is the last day the product should be used or eaten.
- Pack Date: Canned or packaged foods may have pack dates, which tells when the product was processed. This does not tell how long the food will be good.
- Packages of food that are not torn or broken should be bought.
- Canned goods should be free of dents, cracks and bulging lids.