Tips for Choosing Ripe Fruit

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Consuming fresh fruit on a regular basis is vital for a healthy diet. People who eat fruit and vegetables as part of their daily diet have a reduced risk of developing certain illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Fruits are low in fat, sodium and calories, and are cholesterol-free. They also contain vitamins C and A, folate, potassium and dietary fiber, making them a great dietary choice. However, the majority of Americans do not consume enough fruit, with only 20% of the population meeting the recommended daily intake of 2 cups.

Adding a few cups of fruit to your daily diet is not difficult. For instance, one banana is equivalent to 1 cup of fruit. However, it is essential to choose ripe fruit for optimal taste. Whether you’re purchasing fruit from a local farmers market or a large supermarket, these techniques will help you select the ripest fruit.

Advice for Choosing Fruit

  • Buy fruit that is in season. This will provide the best taste and nutrition, as well as value for your money.
  • Only buy what you can eat. Choose fruit that you have space to store and will be able to consume while it is fresh and ripe.
  • Keep it simple. Whole fruits are less expensive and have a longer shelf life than pre-cut or ready-to-eat fruits.
  • Buy locally grown fruit whenever possible. This supports local farmers and allows you to purchase fruit at its peak quality.

Indicators of Ripe Fruit

  • Apples: Select firm, heavy apples with shiny, unblemished skin.
  • Avocados: Look for dark-skinned avocados that yield gently to pressure when squeezed. Green avocados can be ripened at home.
  • Berries: Choose dry, fragrant, and firm berries without any signs of mold or damage.
  • Bananas: Evenly yellow bananas are ripe, but for best taste, wait until the first spots of brown appear. Greener bananas will continue to ripen for a few days.
  • Melons: For watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe, select symmetrical, sweet-smelling, and heavy fruit. A dull rind indicates ripeness in watermelon, while honeydew should be pale yellow.
  • Pears: Look for unbruised pears that are not yet soft, as they will continue to ripen after being picked.
  • Peaches: Choose peaches with deep color, a fragrant smell, and no bruising or wrinkled skin. They should yield gently to pressure.
  • Pineapples: A ripe pineapple will have a sweet aroma near the stem and fresh leaves. Avoid fruit with dark spots on the rind.
  • Plums: Ripe plums have deep color and give slightly when squeezed.
  • Pomegranates: Heavy fruit with signs of cracking is a good indicator of ripe pomegranates, which should be full of plump seeds.

Ripe watermelon should have a dull rind with an obvious yellow side. If it’s missing the yellow spot, that could be a sign it didn’t ripen enough before it was picked.
Paulose NK/Shutterstock

Storing Fresh Fruit

Properly storing fresh fruit is key to extending its shelf life. While some fruit should be refrigerated, others are best kept at room temperature.

Fruits that should not be refrigerated include bananas, citrus, mangoes, melons, pineapples, peaches, and pomegranates, unless they are cut. Refrigeration can damage the fruit or prevent it from ripening. Avocados and peaches can be ripened at room temperature in a fruit or paper bag.

Berries, cherries, figs, and grapes should be stored in the refrigerator, as well as pears and plums once they are ripe. Cut fruit should also be refrigerated and consumed within one to three days.

Fruits and Vegetables Should Not Be Stored Together in the Same Drawer of Your Fridge

It’s interesting to note that it’s not advisable to store fruits and vegetables together in the same produce drawer of your refrigerator. This is because certain fruits, such as apples, emit ethylene gas, which can cause the vegetables in the same drawer to decay or turn brown.

First Published: Mar 24, 2011


1. What are the signs of ripe fruit?

The signs of ripe fruit depend on the type of fruit. For example, a ripe banana will be yellow with brown spots, while a ripe peach will have a slight give when pressed. Look for changes in color, texture, and smell to determine if a fruit is ripe.

2. How can I tell if a watermelon is ripe?

To tell if a watermelon is ripe, look for a creamy yellow spot on the bottom where it sat on the ground. The skin should also have a dull appearance and be slightly rough to the touch. A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size.

3. Is it better to buy ripe or unripe fruit?

It depends on how soon you plan to eat the fruit. If you plan to eat it within a day or two, it’s best to buy ripe fruit. However, if you’re not planning to eat it right away, it’s better to buy unripe fruit and let it ripen at home.

4. How can I ripen fruit at home?

You can ripen fruit at home by storing it at room temperature in a paper bag. The bag traps the natural ethylene gas that the fruit produces, which speeds up the ripening process. You can also place the fruit in a bowl with other ripe fruit, such as apples or bananas, to speed up the process.

5. Can fruit continue to ripen after it’s been picked?

No, once fruit has been picked, it can no longer ripen. It may soften or change in color, but it will not get any sweeter or more flavorful.

6. How can I prevent fruit from overripening?

You can prevent fruit from overripening by storing it in the refrigerator. The colder temperature slows down the ripening process. You can also freeze fruit that is starting to get too ripe and use it later for smoothies or baked goods.

7. Is it safe to eat overripe fruit?

While overripe fruit may not be as tasty, it is generally safe to eat. However, if the fruit has started to decay or mold, it should be discarded.

8. Can I tell if fruit is organic by its appearance?

No, you cannot tell if fruit is organic by its appearance. Organic fruit may look the same as conventionally grown fruit. Look for a label or ask the farmer or store clerk if the fruit is organic.

9. How can I store fruit to keep it fresh?

Fruit should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Some fruits, such as berries and grapes, are best stored in the refrigerator. Cut fruit should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within a day or two.

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