Dear the following rules in mind when selecting poultry of any kind:
The weight of the bird should be great in proportion to its size, but, at the same time, remember that an over-fat bird is not economical, and as the flesh will be greasy, it will be less digestible than a leaner bird, and will also be less delicate in flavour. The feet should be large in comparison to the size of the bird. They and the legs should be smooth and supple, while the spurs should be small and round, and the toes should break easily if bent backwards.
The skin of the bird should be thin and smooth; if coarse and hairy the bird is old or of inferior quality.
The heart should be plump, while the beak and breastbone should feel soft and pliable.
Select birds that are free from all discoloration and that have eyes full and clear.
Birds with a purplish tinge about the neck and thighs are old.
For roasting, those with dark legs and darker-tinted skins are richer in flavour.
Hen birds are usually considered more tender.than cocks.
The skin and flesh should look very white, while the legs should be smooth and black.
Norfolk turkeys are considered the best, but Irish birds are excellent.
The breast should be of a light red, with the legs of a darker tint. If the breasts are very dark it is a sign the birds are old.
Their fur will be soft and brown, claws smooth and sharp, necks short, while the ears, being quite soft and thin, will tear easily. If old, rabbits have greyish fur, thick, blunt claws, and tough ears.
In all varieties of game remember, if young, the birds will have smooth legs, soft, supple feet, a beak so brittle that the under portion snaps across easily if it is bent backwards. The breasts will be firm and plump, and the long quill feathers in the wings will be soft and not fully grown.
Partridges when young, have dark bills, and the quill feathers in the wings are pointed at the end like a V, but in old birds they become rounded.
The legs should be of a yellowish colour. Cock birds have a reddish brown, hens a light brown plumage.
If a mark like a horseshoe is visible on the breast feathers of a bird it is a sign the bird is old.
Hares should have smooth, sharp claws, the cleft in the upper lip should be narrow, while the ears should be so soft that they can easily be torn across.
For roasting, a leveret (a young hare) is best.
Water-fowl of all kinds must be eaten fresh; their flesh, being oily, scon becomes rank in flavour and unpleasant.
Their feet must be moist and pliable; if they are dry and hard they have been killed some time. Also, if the beaks seem moist, it is a sign they are stale.
Roughly speaking, the freshness of all vegetables can be judged by their colour and crispness. If they feel crisp and are of a bright colour they are fresh, if they are flabby and look withered they are stale.
The flower should be of a creamy white, and be firm and close, while the leaves round should be green and crisp.
Choose those which are free from "eyes." Large potatoes are more economical than small ones, for there will be less waste in peeling them.
The pods should be crisp and a bright green, if at all yellow they are stale. They should be full, but not very large, as this usually means they are old, while if the peas rattle in them they are worthless.
Cucumbers should be very stiff, and the thick rough-skinned ones are usually considered the best.
Hints To Remember When Purchasing Various Stores Flour should feel smooth, not gritty, to the touch, and when a little is squeezed in the hand it should adhere together, not lose its shape when the pressure is relaxed.
It should have no musty, unpleasant smell. For ordinary household purposes flour of a creamy white is best, and is usually known as " households," or "seconds"; the very white fine varieties contain little nourishment, though they are suitable for light bread, pastry, and cakes; they are usually sold under the name of "Vienna" or "Hungarian " flour or " pastry whites." Yeast Compressed or German yeast when fresh should be in a firm, moist mass, not in crumbs, and should be quite free from any sour smell. It should be of a pinkish fawn tint, and should become liquid when worked with a little moist sugar, then in a little while it should begin to bubble and work; if it does not do this the yeast is stale and useless.
Butter should be firm in texture, and free from moisture or any rancid smell. It should not be too deep in colour; if it is, colouring matter has probably been added. This is quite harmless, though not desirable, as butter should be absolutely pure.
Lard should be very white, with little or no smell. If it splutters greatly when it is being heated it shows that it has either had water added to it to increase its weight or that it was badly " rendered down " from the raw fat.
Eggs should feel heavy, and have rough shells; when they look shiny and polished be sure they are stale.
If placed in strong brine, stale eggs float, and fresh ones sink.
A fresh egg will look quite transparent when held in front of a strong light.
After letting the milk stand for some hours, notice how much cream there is on it. If very little, either the milk is of poor quality or it has already been skimmed. If the milk is very thin, and has a bluish tint, it will be advisable to change the source of supply.
See that the grains are unbroken, and are free from tiny insects called weevils.
Patna rice, which is best for curries, should have long, pointed grains; while Carolina (used for puddings) should have thick, rounded grains.
The best quality rice is cheapest in the end, and makes a far richer, more creamy pudding than do inferior qualities.
Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants should be dry and separate, not clogged together. If raisins are sugary, they are stale.
The rinds should be thick and soft, and well drained of sugar, otherwise there will be a large piece in the centre of each,