Tips for Choosing the Freshest Fruit

How to know if fruits are ready to eat – or past their prime.


Fruit is low in fat, sodium and calories, which can help you maintain a healthy weight, and it is rich in nutrients that help fight inflammation. Plus, it tastes great.

If you’re skipping the produce aisle because you don’t know how to choose the freshest fruit (will a rock hard pear really ripen at home? How do I know if a melon is ripe?) or you’re worried about wasting money if fruit spoils before you eat it, we’re here to help.

Here are tips for finding the freshest fruit and storage tips to increase its shelf life.

Go for plump berries with deep color. They stop ripening once off the vine and tread a thin line between ripe and rotting. Staining at the bottom of the container indicates over-ripeness. Stored in a glass bowl lined with paper towels and left in the fridge, berries will last up to four days.

The sweetest ones give slightly when squeezed and have shiny, thin skin. It’s OK if Valencias aren’t orange; they can have a green tinge even after they ripen. Oranges and other citrus fruits will lasts up to 2 weeks if you store them in the fridge.

Expect melons to ripen after a few days at room temperature (the bottom of a watermelon will go from white to creamy yellow). Cantaloupes are ready when they’re fragrant. Once ripe, keep melons in the fridge (away from the vegetables) and they’ll last up to four days.

Kiwis. Set these small fruits on the counter to ripen. A kiwi is ready when it yields to a soft squeeze. It’s best to store kiwis at room temperature until they’re ripe; once the fruit is at its peak, move it to the fridge where it’ll last up to three weeks.

Mangoes. Ripen mangoes at room temperature; they’re ready to eat when they’re slightly soft and very fragrant. A little speckling or bruising won’t affect the flavor. Once ripe, put them in the crisper; they’ll last up to four days.

Pears. Pears are picked mature, but not ripe. They will ripen when left at room temperature. When the stem end of the fruit yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready to eat. Ripened fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

The fruit is shipped ripe. For the best flavor, choose a large, brightly colored pomegranate with its skin intact. The flavorful fruits will last up to two months in the refrigerator.

Pick one that’s fully ripe – yellow hue, deep green leaves and slightly firm with a sweet smell. Pineapple can be stored in the fridge whole (with the top still on) or peeled, sliced and stored in a covered container; it’ll last for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Apples. The fruit is fully ripe when it’s picked. Look for firm, smooth skin without soft spots. Apples will remain fresh for up to six weeks if you store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Buy bananas when they are green and less fragile. Ripen them at home (hanging a bunch on a banana hammock in a cool area of the kitchen will keep them fresh for up to a week). Bananas are ripe when the peels turn yellow with hints of brown.

Peaches, nectarines. These stone fruits are usually sold “ripe when picked” but the fruit can still be fairly firm. Avoid rock hard fruits (peaches and nectarines will get soft and juicy if they’re left on the counter for a few days). Store them in a paper bag at room temperature until ripe, then put them in fridge where they’ll last up to one week.

Cherries. The fruit stops ripening after it’s picked. Buy only plump and firm cherries with their stems attached. cherries will last up to two weeks if they’re stored in a covered container in the fridge.

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