How to choose fresh fruits

Have you ever picked rotten or bad fruit from a grocery store? For something that seems so simple, buying fruit can be deceivingly complex. That’s why if you look closely at most any grocery store produce section you’ll notice people squeezing, sniffing and examining their fruit very carefully. Here are some tips on how to select the best fruits every time.

Number one rule is choosing fruits that are in season in your living region. Fruits that are in season and locally grown tend to have more nutrients and flavor than those that are imported from far away places.

Apples: A good ripe apple will be firm, deeply colored and free of bruises. Depending on the variety; For red-colored varieties, look for apples that are mostly red. For yellow-colored apples, look for apples that are mostly bright yellow. Red and yellow apples that have several patches of green color are generally not as tasty as bright red and yellow apples. If you want to find apples with the best flavor, buy them during apple season, which spans from late summer to early winter.

Bananas: Ripe bananas are yellow, but it’s OK to buy them while they’re still green if you don’t plan on eating them for a few days. Bananas with a lot of brown spots tastes better than yellow bananas with a green top. Look for bananas that do not have bruises or soft spots, especially along the undersides of the bottom-most row.

What many people do not know is that you can actually refrigerate ripe bananas to extend their freshness. The peel will darken, but the flesh won’t be affected. Do not put unripe (green) bananas in the refrigerator, this will interrupt the ripening process.

Cantaloupes and Honeydews: Be choosy when picking cantaloupes and honeydews because they’re often picked while still unripe so they’re not damaged during shipping. The ripeness of cantaloupes and honeydews can be determined in few ways:

1. The best thing you can do is smell. Ripe cantaloupe smells very sweet and nice. Sniffing out the most aromatic one is the smartest way to pick a cantaloupe or honeydew.

2. Hold your dominant hand as if ready to knock on a door. Deliver two or three good thumps to the round side of a melon. The sound should be deep and thick, indicating a dense, full fruit. A higher hollow sound can mean unripe.

3. A good melon is firm, but not rock hard. It yields very slightly to pressure but has no soft spots.

Grapes:Choose grapes that are firm; soft grapes or those that feel like little water balloons tend to be too ripe. Look at the colors of the grapes and stems. The stems of the grapes should be beige to brown, and drying up. Green, full stems mean the grapes are not ripe and they will tend to be sour or tasteless. Buy in the right season. Grapes are grown year round in different parts of the world. But, you should avoid the imported grapes from Chile during January-April. Eat U.S. grown grapes during the season of July-December.

Kiwi: A kiwi is ripe when it gives slightly when pressed. Squeeze them in the palm of your hand and check to see if they are firm. There should be no give to the skin but it should also not be rock hard, either. Check for visible damage, bruising, and a lack of fuzz on the fruit. These are all signs of an over ripe fruit.

Mangoes: Finding a ripe mango can be tricky because they can be yellow, red, green or orange in color. This causes the mango to have a ridge all the way around its diameter at the widest part. Feel along this ridge for the depth of the meat. If it is soft around the pit then you know it is ready to take home. If it is hard and rigid than the fruit is not ripe and will take a couple of days to be ready. Those that are ready to eat will usually have a yellow hue and should be slightly soft to the touch. Ripe mangoes also have a sweet aroma near the stem end.

Oranges: When looking for a ripe orange, don’t worry about color. Oranges with green or brown patches can be just as ripe (and some very orange oranges are even injected with food coloring to get that bright color). For the best flavor, look for oranges that are firm and heavy for size with a thin, smooth skin. Avoid blemishes and shriveled or moldy spots. For the juiciest, sweetest fruit, look for oranges with a sweet, clean fragrance. You can store oranges at cool room temperature for one week or for two weeks in the refrigerator.

Peaches:Choose peaches that have smooth skin without bruises. Peaches should give slightly when you squeeze them. They should not be hard as a rock. Smell them, if you walk by a whole bin of peaches or nectarines and don’t smell anything, they will be flavorless. Buy in season. Peaches are in season from July to September.

Strawberries: Strawberries are ripe when they’re a deep red color all over with a shiny skin. Avoid buying strawberries with light red or have some green or yellow on them, as they’re unripe and they won’t taste good. Strawberries do not ripen after they are picked. Look also at the seeds of the fruit. It may be hard to see, but there can be dark or brown areas around the seeds. This is a sure sign of being on the shelf too long.

Buy them during the right season. The best season for strawberries is spring and summer.

Watermelon: Unlike other melon-types watermelon can’t be chosen for its smell. The only way to pick a ripe watermelon at your store is to do the flat hand test: Tap the melon with your flat hand. If the sound is deep and thick you probably have found a ripe and sweet fruit. Don’t pick a watermelon without a rough yellow patch (the spot where it rested before harvest). If it’s missing it could mean the watermelon was picked too early.

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