How to Pick Ripe Fruit

As you incorporate more fresh fruit into your diet, it’s important to know when they’re ready to eat. Because unripened fruit is highly acidic, eating it can overwork your digestive system and leave you with a stomachache.

I hear so many people say they stopped eating certain fruits because they don’t agree with them, when the simple solution is to just let them ripen. You don’t have to worry about that, though! Use this guide before you take that first bite, or even when you’re picking out fruit at the store.

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Apples

Opposite from many fruits on this list, you want your apples to be firm and crisp. If you can make even the slightest indent with your finger, the apple is past its prime. I also notice when I buy a bag of fuji apples, some of them may still have a little green on the top. Those tend to be too tart so I will let them sit for a couple days.

To ripen faster: Place in a brown paper bag. Trapping them with the ethylene gas they produce, will speed up the ripening process.

When overly ripe: Make applesauce or, even better, apple pie.

Avocado

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not the biggest avocado fan but my hubby loves them so I often find myself picking them up at the grocery store. Ripe avocados should have a slight give so they feel firm yet a little soft at the same time. I learned that you should test them using your palm rather than your fingers so you don’t bruise the avocado.

To ripen faster: Place in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. Apples and bananas produce ethylene gas which ripens fruit faster.

When overly ripe: Grab some chips and make guacamole or freeze for your next smoothie.

Bananas

Many people, including my past self, believe that bananas are meant to be eaten when they are mostly yellow with a little bit of green near the stem. They’re tough to peel and the banana’s texture has a crisp to it. Do not eat bananas like this! When the banana is hard to peel, it’s telling you that it needs more time to ripen. I always picture the banana inside the peel having a sort of tug of war with me. He wants to stay in there! So let him. When the peel has brown speckles all over it, it will open very easily and have a sweet scent.

To ripen faster: Place them in a cupboard or brown paper bag. You can also place them in sunlight or a warm area.

When overly ripe: Mash them up and make banana bread or freeze them and toss them in a smoothie.

Cantaloupe

These melons are all about telling you when they’re ready. Press on the base opposite the stem and make sure there is a little give. You also want to make sure there is no mold or discoloration here. You want a melon that is heavy for its size and has a golden surface (not white or green) under the web-like outer cage.

To ripen faster: Place in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. Apples and bananas produce ethylene gas which ripens fruit faster.

When overly ripe: Freeze for your smoothie.

Mangos

I find that mangos can be deceiving. They look the same whether they are unripe or perfectly sweet and ready to eat. Nothing bums me out more than excitedly cutting into what I think will be the highlight of my day only to discover my mango is tart and should have been left for another day. It’s all about touch with these guys. On a spectrum of firm to soft, you want your mangos to be right in the middle. Although, I personally think they’re still delicious when they get a little overly ripe. I’m biased though.

To ripen faster: Place in a brown paper bag. You can also bury them in uncooked rice.

When overly ripe: Make mango salsa to go with your guacamole or freeze them for your smoothie.

Pineapple

What is it about pineapples that take you away to a tropical paradise? For these, you’ll want to find one that is yellow at the base or all the way up. The leaves at the top should be green. When you squeeze it, the pineapple should be firm with a little give. Also be sure to check the base for any discoloration or mold.

To ripen faster: Oh no! Unfortunately, pineapples don’t continue to ripen after they’re harvested so be sure to pick a good one while you’re at the store.

When overly ripe: Freeze for a tropical smoothie.

Watermelon

Last summer I became a bit obsessed with watermelons. I started out by getting one personal-sized melon a week and by the end of the season, I would have 2-3 medium watermelons on my counter at any given time. I learned that there’s more than the slap test to find a ripe melon. The heavier the melon for it’s size, the more water it’s holding. When you’re at the store, pick a melon that has a large yellow spot. This indicates that it was able to ripen longer on the vine. Of course you do still want to slap the melon with your palm and listen for a deep, hollow sound.

To ripen faster: Uh-oh! Like, pineapples, watermelons don’t continue to ripen after they’re harvested so be sure to pick a good one while you’re at the store.

When overly ripe: Use it as your liquid base in a smoothie.


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Didn’t see the fruit you’re looking for? A safe bet for fruits without peels or shells, is that you want to it be firm with a slight give. And for those with peels and shells, I’ve noticed that the best ones tend to be heavy for their weight, with no mold or discoloration on the base.

What one fruit makes your day that much better? Mine is (obviously) mango!

3 thoughts on “How to Pick Ripe Fruit

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