Some people seem to have the special skill of telling whether or not a fruit or vegetable is fresh and ripe. With a few pokes and sniffs, they seem to know which ones to put in their shopping cart. How do they measure the ripeness of fruits and vegetables?
Well, wonder no more! Below, we’ll discuss how you can tell if the produce you get from a fresh fruits and vegetable shop is indeed ripe enough. These tips can help you be more confident when choosing produce in the supermarket and can come in handy when checking your online supermarket purchases.
Here are 6 ways to measure the ripeness of fruits and vegetables:
Take a Good Look
Pick up a fruit or vegetable and give it a good look. There are a lot of visual indicators that can help you determine the ripeness of the produce.
- Are there any dark spots that look and feel too soft or spongy?
- Is the color even throughout?
- Is the skin bruised or nicked?
For fruits or vegetables with thick rinds such as melons and watermelons, some scarring is fine. But on others, this won’t be ideal. Finally, if you’re shopping in an open-air area, you might want to check if fruit flies are hovering around. These insects are good indicators of rot.
Size and weight are also good indicators of a fruit’s ripeness. Something that’s smaller than average could have been picked a little too early. It can still ripen, but not fully and not in the way you want.
If something is a little too big, it might have been harvested too late and possibly taste a little bland. And if you encounter a lot of the same fruit with roughly the same sizes, compare their weights. Usually, a heavier fruit or vegetable contains more water and is therefore likely juicier.
Check the Leaves
When it comes to leafy greens, the leaves should be smooth, succulent-looking, and have consistent coloring. You should also hear a crisp snapping sound when you break one.
Take note that, due to shipping and handling, it’s normal to find a few tears on the leaves. Just make sure that most of the leaves are still intact. A few holes are also common, most likely due to insects and bugs making a meal out of the vegetables. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly before you eat or cook them to dislodge any critters that may still be clinging to the leaves and stems.
Squeeze It or Poke
Fresh, ripe fruits should feel firm but also have a little give in them. This applies to most fruit, including plums and berries, avocados, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. If it feels too hard, it’s probably not yet fully ripe. Hard and rough skin on fruits can also be an indicator of dryness.
Vegetables, on the other hand, should be as firm as possible. Zucchinis, yellow squashes, potatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, and broccoli should feel sturdy. This is especially important if you’re not going to immediately eat or cook these vegetables.
For root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, the firmer, the better. Just make sure to check the base. If there are any cracks, the vegetable is probably too dry.
If the fruit smells too sweet, it’s probably too ripe and close to turning. Some fruits also tend to smell like a combination of their natural scent and a sour, almost wine-like odor when they’re past their prime. It’s best to avoid these ones. The trick is to catch a whiff of a particular fruit’s aroma that’s light yet distinct enough without being overpowering.
On the other hand, the freshness and ripeness of vegetables are much harder to figure out by smell alone. However, for things like onions and mushrooms, take note of overwhelming odors and fishy, slimy, and moldy smells.
Thump the Skin
Melons and watermelons have been impromptu drum sets for thumping fingers for years. This is because of the belief that a fresh and ripe melons will sound hollow. If the sound is too dull and hard, it probably still needs a few more days or even weeks to ripen.
If you can’t figure out if the sound is hollow enough, check for the ground spot. Also called the belly spot, this is the part of the melon that was touching the ground as it grew. This part of the rind should be white or light yellow. If there isn’t any or the spot is too small, the fruit was likely harvested too early.
As you can see, it’s not too difficult to actually tell if fruits and vegetables are fresh and ripe. Whether you’re looking at selections in the store or already got your purchases an online supermarket, put your five senses into action. They will give you the answers you need.
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