I say that fruit is one of the tastiest foods on Earth! Naturally sweet, rich in flavor, and packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, it is the perfect food to munch on when you need an energy boost. I love having fruit for breakfast, I think it’s the perfect way to start the day. It also makes a great snack throughout the day, and can be delicious as an after dinner treat. It is my personal motto that there is no such thing as too much fruit.
It’s an easy snack and requires little preparation! One thing I hate though, and I don’t use that word lightly, is biting into a piece of fruit only to discover it isn’t quite ripe yet. Bleugh. It’s SO disappointing! The fruit is either too hard, too soft or just doesn’t taste quite nice, and what was supposed to be a treat for my taste buds ending up leaving me disappointed.
Fruit a day or two past its best can still taste yummy in a smoothie, so don’t write it off completely. If it smells vinegary or off, however, it’s best to stick it straight in the compost. If you’re shopping at the grocery store, you don’t want to buy overripe fruit because it won’t keep very long and won’t taste as good as fruit that is just beginning to ripen.
I’ve become a bit of an expert on how to know if your fruit is ripe – a necessary life skill for a food-loving vegan like myself. Here’s what I’ve learned:
A ripe apple should feel hard and have a tight skin. If it feels mushy, it’s overripe and won’t have that oh-so-satisfying crunch when you bite into it.
These are arguably one of the hardest fruits to understand. Sometimes you think you have a perfectly ripe avocado only to cut into it and discovered blackened mush on the inside. Squeeze the avocado gently in your hand, it should give slightly. If it’s too firm, it needs longer to ripen, if it’s too soft you’re in mush central. Pick off the stem and look at the color, if it’s brown it’s past its best, if it’s a greeny yellow then it should be perfect for eating.
With bananas, it’s all in the appearance. Green bananas are underripe, you can buy them like this and let them ripen in your home. As they ripen, they will take on the gorgeous yellow color you think of when you picture a banana. As it ripens further, brown spots will appear on the skin. The browner the peel is, the sweeter the banana will taste. It’s totally a personal choice as to when you like to eat you bananas (I personally like mine really spotty). Once they feel mushy to the touch, they’re past their prime.
Berries are amazingly yummy when they’re ripe, but can quickly go bad if left unchecked. Once one berry in the punnett has grown mold, it will soon spread to the rest of the bunch. Check the berries for signs of mold and leakage, overripe berries often leak juice all over the punnett.
This sweet tasting melon is delicious when ripe, but either too hard or too mushy when its not. The best way to tell if a melon is right is to smell it. Hmmm breathe in that yummy smell. If it doesn’t smell like melon, it’s probably not ready. A ripe cantaloupe should smell sweet, but not too sweet. If it smells too sweet it’s probably overripe. Try pressing your thumb on the bottom of the cantaloupe, if it goes in slightly, it’s ready to eat.
Ripe cherries will still have the stems attached to the fruit. The cherries will feel firm, and the skin will be a beautiful dark color. If they feel soft, they are already overripe.
Coconut is a really tricky one to gage because it’s locked inside a pretty thick husk, so you can’t really press it to see how soft it is. What you can do though, is focus on the three eyes at the bottom of the coconut. When the coconut is ripe, they should feel soft and dry.
Grapefruits start off pretty green in color, and at this stage they are not ready to eat. By the time the grapefruit has taken on the pink or yellow color (depending on which variety you went for!), it should smell sweet and tasty and be ready to eat.
Grapes should still be on the stem, if they fall easily away they are overripe. They should also feel firm, soft grapes are past their best and make for a pretty disappointing mid morning snack.
Honeydew melon should be golden in color. If it’s still yellow, it’s probably not quite ready yet. You can also give it a sniff to see how ripe it is, a ripe honeydew melon will smell sweet and appetizing.
Kiwi fruit tastes sour when it’s not yet ripe, and at this point will feel pretty hard. If you gently squeeze the kiwi in your hand, it should give a little bit, then you know it’s good to eat. If it feels too soft or mushy, it may already be overripe.
Mmmm mango, such an exotic flavor. The best way to tell if it’s ripe is to squeeze it. If it feels too firm, it’s not ready, and if it feels mushy it is overripe. It should give slightly but not too much, then it’s ready to eat.
Nectarine shouldn’t feel overly firm. It will feel soft when it’s ready to eat, and will also smell like a nectarine. If it doesn’t smell fruity, it’s not quite ready yet.
For oranges, beauty is skin deep. Check out the appearance of the skin, it should be bright orange and firm. If it looks leathery, it’s overripe, and if it doesn’t yet have a vibrant color, it’s probably not ready to eat just yet. The heavier the orange, the juicer and more delicious it will be. I always judge my oranges by the deep orange huge and the weight, not the size.
Peaches smell like they’re going to taste, so a ripe peach smells delicious and flavorsome! You should be able to squeeze it gently, but if it’s too mushy then it’s probably overripe. The area around the stem should be peach colored, if it’s still green then it isn’t quite ripe yet.
Pears are similar to bananas in that brown spots are nothing to hide away from. Pears should be sweet and soft, and brown spots are a good indicator that a pear is ready to eat. If it feels too soft or mushy, however, then it’s probably already had its day.
A ripe pineapple will feel firm but not hard, if it’s too soft it’s probably overripe. Pineapples should be a beautiful golden brown color, if it’s green it’s probably not yet ripe. Rely on your sense of smell for this one. An unripe pineapple will smell of nothing, and an overripe one will smell vinergary. If it smells sweet and flavorsome, it’s ready to eat!
With plums, it’s all in the touch. The skin should feel firm, soft and smooth. If it is wrinkled or mushy, it’s past its best, and if it feels overly hard, it hasn’t ripened yet.
Strawberries are bright red when they’re ready to eat, and shouldn’t have white tops (this means they were picked too soon). A ripe strawberry will smell deliciously strawberry like, so trust your nose for this one. If it doesn’t have a scent yet, it’s probably not that sweet. If it has started to go mushy, it’s overripe. FYI – once picked, strawberries do not ripen…they do not emit ethylene gas (which is responsible for ripening of fruit). Buy or pick your strawberries they way you want them because what you see is what you get!
Tomatoes should be a vibrant red color when they’re ready to eat, unless they’re yellow or orange tomatoes and then it’s a little more complicated! Gently squeeze the tomato in your hand, if it gives slightly then it is ready. If there is no give, it needs a few more days. If it squishes into your hand, it’s overripe!
To find out if a watermelon is ripe, you need to look at the point where it touched the ground before harvest. If this spot is yellow, the watermelon is probably ready to eat. It should sound hollow if you tap it, but feel heavy when picked up.