In recent years, scientists have switched from their recommendations for five-a-day to now suggest each of us should be aiming to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day. The natural result is that many people are now working hard to incorporate as much fruit as much into their diets as they can. We are drinking it, companies like Fruitful Office are delivering it straight to the workplace and some people are even adopting fruitarianism, a diet that consists entirely or primarily of fruits, which is not something we’d recommend.
But with fruit now sourced from all around the world to feed this colossal demand, what tricks can we use to pick fruit in the supermarket that’s truly ripe?
How can you tell if fruit is ripe?
Considering it’s such a crucial part of our diets, surprisingly few people know that fruit is the seed-bearing ovaries of a plant. The fruit’s mission is to ripen and become so desirable to animals and humans that it’s eaten and the seeds are spread. However, by the time it reaches us, that fruit has been picked, shipped and stored. So how can we make sure the fruit we eat is ripe?
Thankfully, they give us a few clues. As fruits ripen, they cease being hard, sour and inedible, and start to become brilliantly-coloured, sweet and juicy, often developing an equally alluring aroma. Here are a few of the attributes to look out for to determine whether a fruit is ripe.
The colour of some fruits is a good indicator of their ripeness. The colour changes some fruits go through is down to a change in acidity, which breaks down the green chlorophyll. Bananas and apples are two examples. Others make their colourful compounds as the chlorophyll breaks down. For example, tomatoes become redder and blue and red berries develop a much deeper hue. Colour is a good indicator of the ripeness of apples, bananas, red berries, tomatoes and cherries.
If the colour of the fruit doesn’t change then it’s important to pay attention to your sense of smell. Chemical changes take place in ripening fruits that make them produce an irresistible and often strong aroma. The melon is the perfect example of a fruit that gives of a luscious whiff when it’s ready to eat. To really get a good sense of a fruit’s ripeness, sniff the blossom end, which is opposite to the stem. If it has a full, fruity aroma then it’s good enough to eat.
If your sight and sense of smell leave you guessing, it’s time to give it a gentle squeeze. As fruit ripens, the compounds that hold it together break down, making it much softer to the touch. Fruits like pears, plums, kiwi fruits and avocados are all perfect candidates for the squeeze test. Even heavy-skinned fruits like melons and pineapples should have a little give in them. If they’re rock hard still, they’re not at their best.
The final indicator of ripeness, and probably the most difficult to rely on unless you really know what you’re doing, is weight. The heavier a fruit weighs for its size, the more mature it is and the more likely it is to be ripe. Tomatoes and grapefruits are two fruits that will tell you they’re ready by having a good weight for their size.
How do you determine whether a fruit is good enough to eat? Please share your tips with our readers in the comments below.