Identifying Ideal Fruit Ripeness

Mar 20, 2019

Yes, fruit is delicious! Yes, eating fruit seems like a thoughtless and simple thing to do. BUT, do you ever have questions lingering in your mind about when it is the ideal time to eat each of your gorgeous favorite fruits so you can REALLY enjoy them?

I figured as part of our recent produce focus , I could shed some light on how (and when) to best enjoy your produce! The look and feel of a piece of ripe fruit varies depending on what type you’re looking at, so take note of my tips on specific fresh fruits below!

Fruit Ripeness Indicators

First, it’s important to note the difference between climacteric and non-climacteric fruits. Bananas, apples, cantaloupe, and stone fruits are climacteric fruits (i.e. they are able to ripen after picking and give off ethylene gas during fruit ripening). Ethylene production can speed up the ripening process of other nearby climacteric produce, so take care when placing certain fruits/veggies near these fruits.

It’s important to pick/purchase non-climacteric fruits at their peak ripeness, as these fruits will not ripen any further once picked. Examples of non-climacteric fruits are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, citrus fruits, cherries, pineapple, and watermelon. In turn, these fruits are also not susceptible to the ripening effects of ethylene gas. This does not mean a non-climacteric piece of fruit has a longer shelf life than their counterparts. In fact in many cases, such as with blackberries, they can actually spoil faster, especially if not stored properly. You can learn more about that in our post on storing produce to keep it fresher longer. Now let’s dive into the factors that will help you tell when certain fruits are at their peak ripeness.

Apples

  • Ripe apples should be firm with tight skin that stays in place when handled.
  • When apples are past their prime they get soft, mealy, and blemished on the outside.
  • If you are apple-picking, the apple should easily pop off the stem when twisted. (Never tug/pull them.)

Avocados

  • The best way to check if an avocado is by ripe is by giving it a gentle squeeze. It should be soft/give a little but not be mushy. If it’s very squeezable, it’s also a safe bet that many others in the grocery store have had a squish of this avocado too…and rejected it – Yikes!
  • Another good ripeness test is to pull off the stem and check the color underneath. If it’s green, you’re good!  If it’s slightly yellow it’s a bit underripe still – check back in a couple of days. If it’s brown, it’s overripe. Lastly, if the stem doesn’t come off, the fruit is definitely not yet ripe enough to eat. It’ll probably also be rock-hard so there really will be no question.
  • Tip: To facilitate ripening, allow avocados to sit out on your counter, and then refrigerate once they have reached the level of ripeness you’re aiming for to help them last longer.

Bananas

  • Bananas change color as they ripen. A ripe banana will be completely yellow all over and lightly speckled with brown spots.
  • It will have a slightly sweet smell and should hold its shape when peeled.
  • It will be creamy, but still a bit firm when you bite into it.
  • If the banana is mushy or brown more than yellow, it’s gone too far. But don’t fret – you can still use them! Now that these bananas are easily mashable, they have become perfect for baking! You can use them in banana bread, pancakes, or whatever dessert you like. Here’s a  wild blueberry banana bread recipe  from Anthony William you can try!
  • Note: When in doubt, you can always freeze your bananas to use later for nice cream, smoothies, etc.
  • Anthony William, Medical Medium, has shared that unripe/green bananas can cause constipation and other adverse reactions, so be sure to stick to the ripe ones!

Blueberries

  • Ripe blueberries are typically big, deep blue with a dusting of grey, and nice and round (avoid those that are squashed or shriveled looking).
  • Unripe ones will be hard with a red or pinkish hue. (These are the sour ones!) This is more notable if you have hand-picked your blueberries, as almost always when you buy them in the store they are already ripe from shipping (as blueberries ripen quickly).
  • What you need to be more concerned with are overripe berries. Check the bottom of the container. If the berries look squashed, leaky, or have visible mold (looks like white fuzz), make sure to avoid them. Blueberries are best consumed within the first couple of days after buying.
  • Note: These “cultivated” blueberries are not to be confused with wild blueberries which are always best frozen.

Blackberries

  • Because blackberries are so fragile, they tend to spoil easily (even quicker than blueberries). Refrigerate immediately, and enjoy within two days after bringing them home to ensure they end up in your belly and not in the trash.
  • Being a slightly sour fruit to begin with, it can be a bit tricky to tell exactly when blackberries are ripe, but they should be smooth, plump, firm, and fully black. At this point, they will be sweet. Any red indicates are underripe and sour, and once picked blackberries do not continue to ripen. Keep this in mind if you go picking your own.
  • As with blueberries, before purchasing pay special attention to the berries on the bottom of the container for mold, liquid, etc.

Cantaloupes

  • A ripe cantaloupe will feel heavier than it looks and makes a hollow sound when tapped.
  • Press gently on one end. A ripe cantaloupe will give slightly but you shouldn’t be able to press your thumb so far as to leave mark/blemish around the stem .
  • Smell is key! Ripe cantaloupe will smell musky and sweet at both ends. (Feel free to sniff while shopping!) If it’s more of a sickly sweet odor though, it’s likely past it’s prime.
  • If you are unsure of the ripeness, you can always go safe and choose an underripe one. Ripe cantaloupe has tan/golden skin, while an underripe one will be hard and have some green underneath. Thankfully, cantaloupe ripens nicely when left out on the counter.

Cherries

  • Ripe cherries are firm with deep crimson skin and should still have the stems attached. If they are bright red, they are not fully ripe and will be less sweet (and they’re non-climacteric, so they will not ripen further).
  • Indicators of overripe cherries are soft flesh, dropped stems, or dark almost purple color.

Kiwis

  • Ripe kiwis should have tight, evenly colored brown skin when ripe.
  • Squeeze very gently to test ripeness. The kiwi should give a little, but as with many other fruits, not be overly soft. If still hard, let them sit out at room temperature for a couple of days and check back.

Lemons / Limes

  • A little known and key factor of ripeness with lemons and limes is their weight. In this case, heavier fruits are juicier.
  • They should be smooth and firm with a slight give to the touch. Lemons/limes get rock-hard and dry up when they are overripe.
  • Ripe lemons will be bright yellow (no trace of green), and ripe limes should appear lighter green or even yellow-green. This is important because again, citrus fruits do not ripen after picking. What you get is what you get. However, if you are stuck with some underripe/overripe lemons/limes, a trick to extracting more juice is to overlap your palms, apply pressure, and roll against the counter a few times. Then cut open and juice normally.

Mangoes

  • A ripe mango will smell sweet and fruity, with the smell more concentrated by the stem.
  • Squeeze the mango gently. If it gives a little, you’re good! If they’re a little underripe though it’s okay! Mangoes ripen after picking and will get softer as they sit out. Similar to avocados, you can place them in the fridge once they have reached their desired ripeness if you are not ready to eat yet.
  • Like cantaloupe, a ripe mango will feel slightly heavier than it appears.
  • Color is not a foolproof indicator of ripeness as there are many different varieties of mangoes, so their color and the way it changes as they ripen will vary. Familiarize yourself with the different types (or at least those at your favorite shopping spot), so you can best judge what color they should be when at peak ripeness.

Peaches

  • You will smell a ripe peach before you see it as their skin is beautifully fragrant.
  • The skin of a ripe peach should be tight and fuzzy. When overripe, the skin will get somewhat shriveled/wrinkled and start to bruise.
  •  They should be firm but give a little when squeezed gently. Leave hard peaches to ripen on the counter, but check back often and they ripen quickly.
  • You can’t always use the color of peaches to help determine ripeness. While on some peaches, you will find red spots that have resulted from direct contact from the sun (this is a good thing!), others do not change. However, one color indicator is near the stem—make sure this area is devoid of green.

Pineapples

  • Once again, the most important ripeness factor is smell. Flip the pineapple over and smell the bottom. A ripe pineapple will smell sweet and like a pineapple, whereas unripe pineapples have no smell. An overripe pineapple will smell vinegary.
  • The pineapple should be firm, not squishy or rock-hard.
  • Color is not a perfect indicator with pineapples, though you are safer choosing one that is more golden than green.
  • The leaves should appear healthy and green. (The verdict is still out on whether being able to pluck the leaves or not further indicates ripeness.)
  • Note: Letting the pineapple sit on your kitchen counter, will allow it to soften further, but it will NOT ripen further (become sweeter).

Pumpkins

  • Like a cantaloupe, if you tap its outside, it should make a hollow sound.
  • Check out the skin. It should be like a hard shell. (If you press your thumbnail into it, it should also resist puncture).
  • One great way to tell if the pumpkin is ready to be enjoyed is by looking at the vine. It should be dried, brown, and woody.

Raspberries

  • Similar to blackberries, raspberries are best eaten right away and do not ripen (sweeten) further after picking.
  • Bright red color, and plump, smooth skin are good indicators that your raspberries have reached their ideal sweetness.
  • Again, be sure to check for mold, and soft, damaged fruit.

Strawberries

  • Go by the smell! Especially beware of the slightest hint of mold or fermentation odor. They are on their way out if you notice this.
  • Color is also important! Ripe strawberries are red all the way through. Whereas underripe strawberries are white or slightly greenish at the top.
  • The leaves should be healthy and green, not faded and/or dry.
  • Soft/mushy fruit, as with many already mentioned in this list, is a good sign they’re past their prime.
  • Know that shape doesn’t indicate ripeness. You’ll be surprised sometimes by some of the best flavor coming from oddly shaped strawberries!

Watermelons

  • As with the other melons on this list, ripe watermelons sound hollow when you tap on them.
  • Watermelons will have a light colored area on the skin from where they touched the ground while growing (aka the field spot). Yellow = ripe, white = not ripe. As an aside, don’t be overly concerned about abrasions on the skin. Insects may have begun feasting because it was ripe, but the tough skin protects the watermelon from more than superficial damage.
  • Ripe watermelon should feel relatively heavy when lifted (again, heavier than it looks!). Differing from cantaloupes though, they will not continue to ripen off the vine.
  • The non-stem end should be a little soft to the touch (the stem end will have a brown marking/circle from where the stem used to be).
  • Most times, ripe watermelons also have a sweet aroma.

I hope you have found this information helpful. Fruit is BEAUTIFUL, fruit is DELICIOUS, and fruit is HEALING! It comes in all different colors, shapes, sizes, textures, and is beneficial no matter if you consume it via homemade juices, smoothies, or straight off of the countertop or out of the fridge. I pray that you allow every single bite (or sip) to nourish your bodies and your minds and that it helps to result in happier, healthier days for each and every one of you.

The post Identifying Ideal Fruit Ripeness appeared first on Reclaimers of Health.

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