How Do Fruits Ripen?

Abstract

There is nothing like eating a fruit when it is just ripe. Ripeness brings out the best flavor, texture, and even an appetizing smell. Eat that same fruit a week before it is ripe, and you will get a completely different experience. The ripeness of fruit influences the choice of which fruit we pick at supermarkets. However, once fruits are ripe, they tend to spoil quickly, as you might have noticed in your own experience. This article provides an insight into two of the changes that are associated with fruit ripening: (1) softness; and (2) flavor, in particular, sweetness, and the role of ethylene gas in controlling fruit ripening.

Before We Look at How to Control Fruit Ripening, Let Us See How Fruits Ripen

As fruit-bearing plants grow, the fruits accumulate water and nutrients from the plant and they use these nutrients to create their flesh and seeds. Most growing fruits initially provide protection to the developing seeds. At this stage, fruits are generally hard and unattractive to predators—including us! After seed development and fruit growth, the properties of the fruit change to make the fruit more attractive to potential consumers, such as animals, birds, and humans . These changes include the most common ways by which we judge whether a fruit is ripe or not, including external features, such as softness to the touch, and internal features, such as sweetness. Fruits also change color as they ripen. This happens because of the breakdown of a green pigment called chlorophyll, along with the creation and accumulation of other pigments responsible for red, purple, or blue hues (anthocyanin), or bright red, yellow, and orange hues (carotenoids), to name a few.

First, how is fruit softness regulated? The softness or firmness of a fruit is determined by the state of its cell walls. Cell walls surround each plant cell and they consist of a rigid layer of sugars, called polysaccharides, which encase each cell’s plasma membrane (Figure 1). The three main polysaccharide of the cell wall are cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin. Cellulose is made up of hundreds of glucose sugars joined together to form a long chaiin; hemicelluloses are also long chains of sugars, but unlike cellulose, these can include many different types of sugar, such as glucose, xylose, galactose, and mannose and instead of being linear are branched structures; pectins are also long branched chains of sugars, but in this case the sugars are galacturonic acid, rhamnose, galactose, and arabinose. As the cell wall begins to break down, the fruit starts to get softer . Cell wall breakdown happens when proteins called enzymes dissolve these important cell wall polysaccharides. The activity of these enzymes is directly linked to the shelf life and texture of the fruit . Fruit softness is also affected by the fluid pressure inside the plasma membrane (called turgor pressure). Turgor pressure keeps the fruit firm, just like air pressure inside a balloon keeps the balloon firm. After maturation or harvest, fruits lose fluid (water), causing a decrease in turgor pressure, so the fruits shrivel. In fruits like strawberries, once the fruit loses 6–10% of its fluid, it no longer looks good and might not be picked up by consumers.

  • Figure 1
  • Plant cell wall structure. A. The cell wall structure of a tomato fruit A. can be viewed under a light microscope B. The cells can be seen to be surrounded by a polysaccharide cell wall, which is seen in the blue circle. C. The cell wall is composed of three main components, called cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin.

Let us now discuss how fruit ripening brings out the flavor of fruit—particularly a fruit’s sweetness. During ripening, there is an increase in the breakdown of starch inside the fruit, and a corresponding increase in the amount of simple sugars which taste sweet, such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose. This process is particularly obvious in bananas as they ripen. Green bananas do not taste sweet at all, and the riper they get, the sweeter they taste. There is also a decrease in acidity as the fruit ripens and a decrease in bitter plant substances, such as alkaloids. Last, as fruits ripen they produce complex compounds that are released into the surrounding air, giving a ripe fruit its pleasant aroma.

Through these changes, fruits ripen and become sweet, colored, soft, and good-tasting. It is good for the plant to invest its resources into the fruit and its ripening because a ripe fruit attracts the consumers that help the seeds to be spread far and wide, which is important for the plant’s survival and regrowth.

How Can We Stop Fruits from Ripening During Storage and Transport?

A major concern with ripened fruit is that it does not last very long before it begins to spoil. The loss of firmness and the production of sugars associated with ripening can also make the fruit susceptible to pathogens like bacteria and spoilage. Over-softening of fruit is a major cause of spoilage during transportation, particularly for tropical fruits, such as mangoes and bananas. Spoilage can be reduced by rapid transportation of fresh fruits, or by slowing down fruit ripening. There are several ways to slow down fruit ripening. One way to slow down ripening is by lowering the temperature. Cold temperatures above freezing are usually used. Even though all fruit can be frozen, upon thawing many fruits lose their flavor and their texture and become very mushy. Raspberries are a possible exception—they can often be found frozen in the grocery store. Normally, to freeze fruit, the fruit is first cut into small pieces and when thawed, these pieces can be used to make purees or smoothies. The good news is that freezing tends to retain the nutritional value of the fruit. Several fruits, such as bananas, can be damaged by chilling and this limits this approach . That is why we do not put bananas in the fridge! Another way to slow down ripening is by controlling the atmosphere around the fruit, primarily by increasing carbon dioxide levels and reducing oxygen levels. Fruit need oxygen to ripen, so if there is less oxygen in the atmosphere, the fruit will ripen more slowly. One final way to slow down ripening is to block the action of ethylene. Ethylene is a hormone required to trigger fruit ripening, and it can be blocked by using synthetic compounds, such as 1-methyl-cyclo-propene (1-MCP). 1-MCP is also used to maintain the freshness of cut flowers.

Ethylene Gas Can be Used to Regulate Fruit Ripening

Ethylene is a gas and is known as the “fruit-ripening hormone.” Every fruit has a certain level of ethylene production throughout its lifecycle. However, in some fruits, ethylene levels shoot up when the fruit starts ripening. Based on their response to ethylene during maturation, fruits can be classified into two major groups. The first group is called the climacteric fruits, in which ripening are accompanied by a burst of ethylene. These fruits can also respond to external ethylene by increasing their ripening rate. These include fleshy fruits, such as tomato, avocado, apple, melon peach, kiwi, and banana. The second group is called the non-climacteric fruits, in which ethylene production does not increase during ripening. However, these fruits can still ripen if they are exposed to an external ethylene source, such as a ripening climacteric fruit. These include strawberry, grape, and citrus fruits . We will focus on ripening of climacteric fruits that are influenced by ethylene.

For climacteric fruit, exposure to an initial, small concentration of ethylene causes the fruit to produce greater quantities of ethylene until a peak concentration is achieved . This increase in ethylene concentration triggers an increase in the fruit’s metabolism and causes the changes to the fruit that occur during ripening. Ripening of climacteric fruits can, therefore, be slowed down by reducing the amount of ethylene the fruits make or by blocking ethylene’s actions . The methods we described above for slowing down ripening work in this way, because, in general, low temperatures reduce metabolism in fruit. Controlled atmospheres limit the amount of oxygen around the fruit, and oxygen is needed to make ethylene. Ethylene action is inhibited by carbon dioxide and by 1-MCP. Another method for slowing down ripening is to remove ethylene from the storage environment by using materials that absorb ethylene, such as potassium permanganate. Once the fruit reaches its destination, it can be ripened by exposure to ethylene gas.

The effect of ethylene on ripening is dependent on many factors. The fruits need to be mature enough to be able to respond effectively to ethylene. In highly sensitive species, like cantaloupes or bananas, ripening is immediately stimulated by ethylene, but the more immature the fruit, the greater the concentration of ethylene required to cause ripening. In the less sensitive species, like tomatoes or apples, ethylene treatment reduces the time before ripening occurs. Some fruits, such as avocados, do not ripen while attached to the tree and gradually increase their sensitivity to ethylene with time after harvest .

Why Does a Rotten Apple Spoil the Whole Basket? How Can This Knowledge Help Us?

All plants produce some ethylene during their life cycle. Ethylene production can increase up to 100-fold or more during particular stages—for instance in response to a wound . Ancient Egyptians used to cut figs to enhance their ripening, since ethylene produced by the injured fruit tissue triggered the ripening response. Similarly, the ancient Chinese used to burn incense in closed rooms with stored pears, because ethylene was released as a by-product of the burning incense. The saying, “one bad apple can spoil the whole basket,” is based upon the release of ethylene from rotting apples, which accelerates the ripening of other apples around the rotting one .

Ethylene gas is commercially used to ripen fruits after they have been picked. Fruits, such as tomato, banana, and pear are harvested just before ripening has started (typically in a hard, green, but mature stage). This allows time for the fruit to be stored and transported to distant places. Once the fruit reaches its destination, ripening is conducted under controlled conditions. This is usually carried out in specially constructed ripening rooms, with optimum ripening temperature, humidity, and ethylene concentration. These special conditions cause the fruit to ripen at a consistent rate. In supermarkets, you might come across these fruits as “Ripe ‘n’ Ready” . Usually, low concentrations of ethylene are used commercially for fruit ripening, because that is all it takes to stimulate the fruit’s natural ripening response. By the time the ethylene-treated fruit reaches the consumer, the commercially applied ethylene is gone, and the fruit is producing its own ethylene. Both ethylene and another widely used ripening agent, methyl jasmonate, are reported to be non-toxic to humans; however, they are relatively expensive.

Try This at Home!

Understanding the effects of ethylene on fresh produce can be helpful in ripening fruits in our own kitchen.

  • If you have an unripe avocado or other fruits at home, try putting them in a paper bag with a ripening banana. This will speed up the ripening of the avocado because ethylene emitted by the ripening banana will trigger the climacteric response in the avocado. This strategy works best when the ripening fruit is one that emits a high concentration of ethylene, such as an apple, pear, banana, or passion fruit .
  • Try putting a green lemon with a ripening banana in a paper bag, as above, and see what happens to the color of the lemon. Ethylene is also used to “de-green” citrus, by triggering the breakdown of the green pigment (chlorophyll), resulting in orange and yellow coloration of the peel. No loss of flavor is caused because this is merely a continuation of the natural plant process.

If you try these things, keep in mind that ripening is best conducted at room temperature, around 20°C, because low temperatures can inactivate important fruit-ripening enzymes. So, it is best to try this outside of the refrigerator.

Glossary

Cell wall: A complex structure, consisting mainly of polysaccharides, that surrounds plant cells and provides their structure and rigidity.

Polysaccharide: A molecule composed of long chains of sugars such as glucose joined together to form either linear or branched chains.

Cellulose: A polysaccharide found in the cell wall composed of long linear chains of glucose.

Hemicelluloses: A group of polysaccharides found in the cell wall. They are long branched chains of sugars which commonly include glucose, xylose, arabinose, galactose, and mannose.

Pectin: A group of polysaccharides found in the cell wall. They are long branched chains of sugars which commonly include galacturonic acid, rhamnose, galactose, and arabinose.

Ethylene: A gas (C2H4) produced by plants, and known as the “ripening hormone,” which stimulates fruit ripening.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Brady, C. J. 1987. Fruit ripening. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. 38, 155–178. doi:10.1146/annurev.pp.38.060187.001103

Definitions for ripeningripen·ing

Examples of ripening in a Sentence

  1. Aristotle:

    Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is slow-ripening fruit.

  2. William Shakespeare:

    This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.

  3. Rainer Maria Rilke:

    There is here no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force it’s sap and stands confident in the storms of Spring without the fear that after them may come no Summer. It does come. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful

  4. Von Humboldt:

    Time is the most important thing in human life, for what is pleasure after the departure of time? and the most consolatory, since pain, when pain has passed, is nothing. Time is the wheel-track in which we roll on towards eternity, conducting us to the Incomprehensible. In its progress there is a ripening power, and it ripens us the more, and the more powerfully, when we duly estimate it. Listen to its voice, do not waste it, but regard it as the highest finite good, in which all finite things are resolved.

  5. Rainer Maria Rilke:

    Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life, in understanding and in creating. There is no measuring in time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confidence in the storms of spring without fear that after them may come no summer.”

Growing up with the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it is largely understood that fruit is good and valuable to health. Fruit has a generous offering of fibre, vitamins, and simple sugars and, coupled with the fact that it’s delicious, it is at the forefront of my approved snack foods list.

Photo by Abigail Wang

However, I’m sure we’ve all had to wait various lengths of time for our fruit haul to ripen. Never have I decided to peel back the green peel of an underripe banana and taken a bite of its bland, starchy flesh.

So the question is: are there any nutritious reasons to favour ripe over unripe fruit?

Anna Hirschorn

And the answer is that it depends. There are two types of fruit: climateric and non-climateric.

A climateric fruit is fruit that continues to ripen after being harvested; some examples being apples, bananas, and melons. As it continues ripening, it has ahigher rate of respiration, which causes nutrient loss the longer it ripens for.

On the other hand, non-climateric fruit, like grapes, strawberries, and pineapple, does not continue ripenening once picked, and the respiration rate remains the same as before.

The good news is that there are other merits to ripe fruit.

There are a number of antioxidants present in fruit. For those of you who need a reminder of chemistry, antioxidants combat oxidation reactions, which create cell-damaging molecules called free radicals.

Photo by Maggie Gorman An interesting study has found that, in apples and pears, the ripening process creates colourless decomposition products that are highly active antioxidants.

Another benefit of ripe fruit are anthocyanins found in fruits that have deep reds, blues, and purples. For example, as berries ripen, these anti-inflammatory pigments are more present and help protect brain function and protect against CVD and cancer. If that’s the case, then I can forgive blueberries for heavily staining my fingers whenever I eat them.

It’s obvious to anyone who has eaten fruit that they are sweeter when ripe, but now you know there’s even more reason to wait for them to ripen than just tastebud satisfaction. So, while the nutrients of fruit may decrease the more you leave it in your fruit bowl, there are some benefits to ripened fruit that balance the cons.

Most of us know eating fruit daily is a great way to try to stay healthy, with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating encouraging us to eat two serves a day. This is because they are relatively low in energy content and rich in fibre, antioxidants and some phytochemicals that may have beneficial health effects.

Eating fruits regularly helps to prevent major diseases such as heart diseases, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity. It can also improve brain health.

Despite the benefits, less than half of Australians eat enough fruit. To try to make eating fruit easier, get the most nutritionally from what we eat and avoid wastage, it is important to consider the best stage to eat fruits from harvesting to over-ripening.

Australians eating inadequate fruit and vegetables. ABS 2013. Australian Health Survey: Updated Results, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.003. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics., Author provided

Fruits vary in nutritional quality

Fruits contain a range of nutrients essential for health, from energy-producing nutrients (mostly carbohydrates with some fat and protein) through to vitamins, minerals and fibre. The amounts of these nutrients vary, however, from one fruit to another.

Predominant sugars vary. In peaches, plums and apricots, there is more glucose than fructose. The opposite is the case in apples and pears. Fruits vary greatly in terms of their glycaemic index and the effect on our blood sugar (glucose).

If we look at vitamin C, relatively high amounts are found in strawberries and citrus fruits compared to bananas, apples, peaches or pears.

Passionfruit contains more phosphorus, an essential mineral used in releasing energy, than papaya. However, the opposite occurs in the case of calcium, the most common mineral in the human body.

According to a recent study, higher consumption of some whole fruits, especially blueberries, grapes and apples, significantly reduced the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. But eating oranges, peaches, plums and apricots had no significant effect. However, this does not mean the latter ones are bad fruits.

Sometimes, combinations of fruits work better than each individual fruit. Mixtures of orange and star fruit juices had higher antioxidant capacity than pure juices.

Even certain stages in fruit maturation showed better health effects. Bioactive compounds are chemicals that occur naturally in fruit and are not technically nutrients but appear to result in health benefits. These are found in higher levels in green (unripened) jujube fruit (red date) than in the ripe fruit.

Green or yellow bananas, does ripeness matter?

Fruit ripening involves a range of complex chemical processes. These cause changes in colour, taste, smell and texture. Generally fruits are more tasty when fully ripened, but this is not always the case. Guava, for example, tends to be more appealing when partially ripe.

We can’t properly digest unripe bananas. Lotte Lohr/Unsplash, CC BY

Unripe fruits typically contain more complex carbohydrates, which can behave like dietary fibre and break down into sugars upon ripening. Unripe bananas contain higher levels of resistant starch (which we cannot digest, but can be a prebiotic acting as a food supply to the microbes in our gut), which is linked to lower risks of bowel cancer. This decreases during the ripening process.

With respect to vitamins and phytochemicals, researchers found the opposite is the case. The level of vitamin C decreases during the early stages of sweet cherry development but increases at the beginning of fruit darkening and accumulation of the pigment anthocyanin. Levels of glucose and fructose, the main sugars found in cherry fruit development, increase during ripening.

However, over-ripening leads to a loss of nutrients following harvest. It’s also linked to fruit darkening, softening and a general loss of sensory acceptability.

Impact of processing

Fruit can be processed by canning, freezing, drying, chopping, mashing, pureeing or juicing. Processing fruits can improve shelf life, but it can also lead to losses in nutrition due to physical damage, long storage, heating and chilling injury.

Usually, minimally processed fresh-cut fruits such as fresh fruit salad have the same nutritional qualities as the individual fruits. However, tinned fruit salad may contain added sugar as syrup and preservatives, which may be a less healthy option.

Eating whole fruit rather than drinking juice appears to be linked to better health. A study that gave participants whole fruit before a meal found it led to people eating less than if they drank juice. Additionally, those eating whole fruit appeared to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, although other studies suggest juices with added sugar may be the real problem.

Fruit juices can contain a lot of sugar, and some even contain added sugar too. freestocks.org/unsplash, CC BY

It is also likely some processing such as juicing may help increase availability and quicker absorption of the beneficial nutrients in fruit. The benefits of this need to be weighed against the sugar being more available too.

So which to eat?

Nutritional qualities of fruits vary and it is hard to predict which fruit might be best. Generally, the more different types of fruits you can include in your diet, the better. For many fruits, eating fresh at its correct ripening stage may be more beneficial, perhaps more for taste than nutrition.

Overripe fruits may be still good to eat or easily convert into smoothie, juice or used as an ingredient such as in banana bread. Eating an over-ripe fruit such as a banana does not mean that you are putting more sugars into your body as the total amount of carbohydrates in the fruit does not increase after harvesting.

While fruit products (juice, dried or tinned products) that are higher in sugars and also preservatives in some cases are not as good as whole fruit, consuming fruit in this form is better than consuming no fruit at all.

But fruits alone cannot do all the work. It is important to choose foods from all the core food groups within the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating to reap the maximum health benefits of fruits.

It turns out ripe and unripe bananas have different health benefits — here’s what you need to know

  • A photo featuring bananas at different levels of ripeness has garnered nearly 2,000 comments on Instagram.
  • Users began debating whether the age of a banana affects its health benefits.
  • Experts say that bananas at different stages each tout different health benefits and that you should choose accordingly.

While some people like their bananas green, others love a mushy brown banana. But is there really a difference between the two? Surprisingly yes — and you could be picking the ripeness of the banana you eat based on your health.

This revelation started with a photo on Instagram, shared by @fitness_meals, that shows a circle of a whole bunch of bananas at basically every level of ripeness. Each banana has a number from one to 15, with one being the most underripe and 15 being the most overripe.

The caption says: “What’s your choice? I would do between 5 and 6.” Instagram users immediately began debating in the comments. Most picked eight through 10, but several said four through seven.

What’s your choice? I would do between 5 and 6 😜 #fitness_meals

A post shared by Fitness Meals🍗🍌🍛🍍 (@fitness_meals) on Jun 30, 2018 at 9:49am PDTJun 30, 2018 at 9:49am PDT

The Daily Mail spoke to Rhiannon Lambert, a UK-based nutritionist who wrote the book “Re-Nourish: A Simple Way to Eat Well,” to see whether one type of banana was better than the others.

Lambert said that while bananas are always an excellent source of potassium and other nutrients, there are different benefits to eating them at different ripenesses, depending on your health.

Underripe bananas have less sugar

Green bananas are less sweet. Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

If you have diabetes, you should consider eating bananas that are more underripe rather than overripe. This is because as a banana ripens, the starch begins to turn to sugar.

Lambert told the Daily Mail: “Research suggests that in underripe bananas, starch constitutes 80-90% of the carbohydrate content, which, as the banana ripens, changes into free sugars. Therefore, people who suffer with diabetes are advised to eat bananas that are not overly ripe as not to spike their blood sugar too much.”

Overripe bananas are easier to digest

Overripe bananas are easier on the stomach. Flickr/McKay Savage

Slightly overripe bananas, on the other hand, are probably a better option for anyone who has trouble digesting the food.

The Verge reported that a greener banana has more “resistant starch,” which humans can’t digest but can be good for you, as “good gut bacteria” like it. Nicholas Gillitt, the vice president of nutrition research and director of the Dole Nutrition Institute, told the outlet that “it’s the kind of starchy material that bacteria look to feed on.”

Lambert echoed that sentiment, telling the Daily Mail, “When the resistant starch changes to simple sugar, a banana ripens, and studies have suggested that more ripe bananas are easier to digest for the average person.”

A fully brown banana is full of antioxidants

These bananas could be used to make baked treats. Laura D’Alessandro/Flickr

An article on Spoon University says that when a banana is almost or fully all brown, basically all the starch has broken down into sugar — they’re sweeter, which is why people often use mushy bananas to bake with — and chlorophyll has taken a new form.

“This breakdown of chlorophyll is the reason why antioxidant levels increase as bananas age,” the article says. “So a fully brown banana is an antioxidant powerhouse.”

When it comes down to it, any choice of banana is a good one

At the end of the day, though, nutritionists seem to agree that you can eat your banana however you want and still get the most out of the fruit.

The nutritional content doesn’t change depending on how ripe the banana is. The only thing that really changes is the taste and how your body processes the sugar. So the kind of banana you should eat is pretty much just based on preference.

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Don’t pick a bad pineapple or a mealy watermelon again. Know the secrets to fresh and ripe foods before you go wrong at the produce aisle. The kitchen mavens at Stack Exchange provide tips on selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Photo by Sean Gallagher.

How to tell if a canteloupe is ripe?

Cantaloupe should feel heavier than it looks and smell musky and sweet. Also you should be able to press your thumb in slightly on the bottom and there shouldn’t be a lip around the stem.

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If it smells over-sweet it’s most likely over ripe. You can let a cantaloupe ripen on your counter top if you get one under-ripe

Related: Are seeds in melons and other fruits good to eat?

— Answered by sarge_smith

How to tell if a Meyer lemon is ripe?

Meyer lemons should be quite a bit softer than a standard Eureka lemon, because the skin is much thinner. That said, it shouldn’t be like a gentle squeeze causes your finger to sink in 1/2 an inch. If that happens, I think you’ve found a batch that are too old and have started to get mushy or lose moisture. Keep looking for good ones – Meyer lemons are terrifically fragrant, floral and mild.

— Answered by Michael at Herbivoracious

How to tell if red bananas are ripe?

Red bananas change color, just not so obviously as normal bananas. There’s a slight greenish tint that disappears as they ripen, and the red becomes a bit deeper (some people say purplish).

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Red bananas also get softer – including the skin getting more tender, just like yellow banana skin. Just think about how bananas feel when ripe, feel your red bananas, and (perhaps with a tiny bit of trial and error) you can figure it out.

Related: Is it scientifically verified that bananas ripen faster when kept with other fruit?

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— Answered by Jefromi

How to tell if pineapple is ripe??

It should be firm, not mushy, but not rock hard either.

The most important thing, however, is smell. An unripe pineapple won’t smell like anything. An overripe pineapple will smell vinegary. A ripe pineapple will smell sweet.

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— Answered by Satanicpuppy

You can test if a pineapple is ripe by trying to pluck out one of the leaves near the centre. If it comes out fairly easily then the pineapple is good to go. If it’s hard to pluck, it’s not yet ripe.

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— Answered by Sam Holder)

How to tell if strawberries are ripe?

Smell. Really, this is the most reliable criterion for practically any fruit.

I have had occasions when I entered a supermarket to quickly buy one thing, aimed at the correct aisle, but when the smell of good strawberries reached me near the produce, I turned and added a pack of them. I have never been disappointed with such strawberries. Also, if you smell the slightest hint of mold, fermentation, or foulness, you know they may not keep even one night.

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Another sign is that a ripe strawberry will be red through and through. A strawberry picked underripe will be white or even slightly greenish at the top. It doesn’t taste good then. But this is a negative sign, because not all red strawberries taste good.

Don’t ever go by shape. The tastiest sort of strawberries my grandparents grew produced ugly, lumpy strawberries of a light, slightly orange color. They also had a few rows of a sort which produced perfectly conical, deep red strawberries, they looked like an advertisement – but they were hard and dry, and didn’t have much aroma. Probably, there are some strawberries which both look and taste good – just don’t think that looks or color predict a good strawberry, because they are independent.

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— Answered by rumtscho

How to tell if a Mango is ripe?

I look for a few things…

Colour: There are many different varieties of mangos. Some go from green to red. Some end up orange Some start off yellow and end up orange. So once you’re familiar with the type of mango you’re buying, you can get an idea of what a ripe one looks like.

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Smell: A ripe mango will smell sweet. Check near the stem end, the smell should be stronger there. You should smell it and think “mango.” Smell is a large part of your taste, so it should be very familiar.

Firmness: Mangos, like peaches will soften as they ripen. Just as it starts to go from firm to soft, it is just about ripe.

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Weight: With most fruit you can tell their ripeness by their weight. A riper fruit will be slightly heavier than an unripe one.

As an aside, if you’re at a grocery store, and you see a few different types of mangos, look for these Ataulfo mangos: They’re my personal favourite. The flavour is richer, and they are a lot less stringy.

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Finally, DO NOT refrigerate if you want them to ripen.

See: “How to ripen a mango.”

— Answered by talon8

How to tell if a watermelon is ripe?

I don’t believe there is a fool-proof way to determine ‘ripeness’ without taking a slice out of a watermelon. The best you can do is look for certain signs:

  • Ripe melons have a hollow sound when you tap or slap the outside
  • Look for the patch where the melon would have been on the ground (called the field spot). If it’s a yellow colour its probably ripe. If it’s white, it’s probably not.
  • It should feel relatively heavy when lifted
  • Weird areas on the skin aren’t necessarily bad. Insects may have tried to start eating the fruit because it is ripe, but have only marred the surface.

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Unfortunately, melons don’t continue to ripen once picked, unlike fruits such as apples and bananas, which contain ethylene. As a tip, don’t store melons with these kinds of fruit, they may well go ‘soggy.’

Extra: NY Times video on picking the right watermelon.

— Answered by Pulse

How to tell if corn is ripe?

A very fresh, ripe ear of corn will have a moist, green, unblemished husk; when peeled back, its silk will also moist and clinging to the kernels. In the store, you may find that an ear of corn will have a slightly dried out husk, but if it’s still green and the kernels look plump when the husk is pulled back, that ear’s fine. Ignore any husks that are very dry with rotten-looking, off-smelling silk tops.

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— Answered by Iuls

How to tell if a pumpkin is ripe?

Pumpkins are similar to a watermelon in that there’s truly no definitive way to tell if they’re ripe and good to cook with. There are a few signs you can look for though:

  • Like a watermelon, thump it. It should make a hollow sound.
  • Check the skin out. It should be hard like a shell. Press your thumbnail into it; it should resist puncture.
  • Make sure the vine that is attached to the pumpkin has died and turned brown and woody. This is a good indicator that it is ripe and ready to be used.

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— Answered by Vecta

How to tell if an avocado is ripe?

If you can squish an avocado in your hand, it’s much too ripe. Everyone else has had a squish of this avocado, and it’s been manhandled.

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Depending on the variety in your supermarket (In Australia, we usually get Hass Avocados, which go from a green colour to a black colour), you want one that’s still firm when you buy it, and after a few days in the fruitbowl with the apples, it will become a nice constancy: still not completely soft to touch, but you can’t play football with the thing anymore.

Related: “What can I do to help my avocados ripen?”

— Answered by glasnt

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Is Ripe Fruit Healthier for You?

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Timing is everything-even when it comes to biting into a piece of fruit. Science shows that the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fat, and even calories in natural’s candy can vary significantly depending on its ripeness.

A little science lesson: When a fruit ripens, its starch is converted into sugar, making it softer and sweeter, says Joseph Scheerens, Ph.D., a horticulture professor at Ohio State University. Often there’s a loss of acidity and a change in color as well. In evolutionary terms, this makes the fruit more appealing texturally, taste-wise, and visually, which means it’s more likely to be eaten by animals and have its seeds dispersed.

These differences aren’t just aesthetic, though; there’s also a shift nutritionally. “The ripening process is a somewhat oxidatively stressful situation for plants, so they develop antioxidants to defend themselves against that stress,” Scheerens says. Great for that cherry or mango to survive, and even better for your body when you eat it. Some plants also see an increase or decrease in vitamin and mineral levels, though this varies from fruit to fruit, Scheerens says.

Follow this guide to know when it’s best to chomp into your favorite fruits.

Apples and Pears

As they lose their green hue, apples and pears develop higher levels of a group of antioxidants called nonfluorescent chlorophyll catabolites (NCCs), researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria discovered. Ripe fruit is characterized by a sweet smell and smooth skin; apples should be firm while pears should be slightly soft. After you bring them home, they’ll typically stay at their peak ripeness for one to two weeks, says Gina DeVito, R.D., of Forme Urgent Care and Wellness Center in White Plains, NY. And pass on the peeler: The skins pack the most antioxidants.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Apple Recipes

Bananas

Bananas are the one fruit that you might want to eat less ripe rather than more so. Compared to sugary brown-spotted bananas, greenish under-ripe ones contain higher levels of resistant starch, which the body has to work harder to break down, says Kelly Jones, R.D., an ambassador for the healthy living campaign PHIT America. So eating carbohydrates in the form of resistant starch may help you stay fuller longer. In a U.K. study, men who consumed resistant starch at two meals ate 321 fewer calories during the day than those who took a placebo.

Berries and Grapes

Ripe berries and grapes boast higher levels of anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory flavonoid that may protect your brain, DeVito says. Pick out ripe berries and grapes by their sweet smell, vibrant color, and plump, uniform texture. Stored in the fridge, ripe berries will stay good for up to three days; grapes last for a week. Keep the stems on until you’re ready to eat them, which will help them stay fresh, DeVito says.

Pineapple

Riper pineapples boast significantly more disease-fighting vitamin C and higher overall antioxidant activity compared to under-ripe fruit, according to an Australian study. Look for a firm fruit and a strong sweet smell. Uncut, pineapple will stay fresh on your counter for three to five days, DeVito says.

RELATED: 8 Surprising Sources of Nutrients

Tomatoes

Half of a tomato’s lycopene develops in the final stages of ripening, a 2012 study reported. This antioxidant is thought to promote heart health and lower your risk for some types of cancer, so look for ones that are bright red (or yellow or orange if it’s an heirloom variety) and yield slightly when pressed. On your countertop they’ll stay at peak ripeness for one to three days, DeVito says.

  • By Marygrace Taylor

What is ripe fruit

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