Blog

Mini-Manual to Fruit Maturity: 9 Fruits to Look For

By Sean Escaravage
Fruit is the sweet delight of summer. Orange slices at sports games, watermelon pool parties, and berry packed breakfasts are a clear sign of beautiful weather approaching...but are you sure all of that fruit is ready to be eaten?

Is it Ripe Yet?

temp-post-image
Find out why precision nutrition is on the forefront of lifestyle change here

You are walking through the produce section looking for the usual; tomatoes, avocado, banana, berries, melon, eggplant, or whatever else you fill your basket with. Some obvious signs turn us away from even wanting to buy them, like a fully green banana or rock solid avocado. But there are others we may not be able to notice right away that are still very important in determining if it is its time to go and be eaten (*sniff*, it was such a young lad).

Plants don’t want to be eaten before they are ready. Since they can’t communicate to us directly, they use warning signs of color to deliver the message of “not yet”. If that doesn’t work, they have a plan B: an odd taste and altered affect on your digestive system. How ripe the fruit will be influence the amount of sugar it releases, so it is important to not only eat fruit at the right time, but also the right amounts to avoid a boat load of sugar-filled calories.

The Charming, Yet Distasteful Plant Communication

Since they can't communicate with [most of] us, they resort to using color, texture, taste, and toxicity as their way to say "hey, what's up cutie?". From attempting to attract you into eating it, all the way to the other end where they want you to stay away from them, it is their language of choice.

Unripe fruits usually resemble some sort of green hue, indicating that message of "not yet" that I talked about above. But if we don't notice warning sign #1, then the plant finds their 'big red button' as we attempt to still eat them, delivering warning sign #2. It will increase its toxin level of the unripe fruit, making it very clear that it is not ripe enough to be eaten yet with things like

  • heartburn

  • diarrhea

  • indigestion

  • sour/rancid taste

  • an odd texture

However, the traditional colors you think of when picturing those beloved fruits are usually great indicators that they are ready.

Activate Your Produce Section Detective Mode

temp-post-image
Find out why precision nutrition is on the forefront of lifestyle change here

Watermelon

When buying a watermelon, you are investing to a boat load of fruit, and want to be sure it is suitable to eat. A ripe watermelon should be heavy, indicating it is filled with water, and also sound almost empty when you tap on it (like a hollow core door in the house). Another tip to note is by checking the underside of the melon, where it would have been resting on the ground when grown, that mark is called the ‘field spot’. If the field spot is yellow, it is ready to eat...but if it is closer to white, it most likely need some more time before consumption.

*Fruit Platter Tip* Unlike apples or bananas, melons do not continue to ripen after they are picked. By storing those fruits together, you run the high risk of making a soggy mess

Banana

Biting into an unripe banana is instantly dissatisfying. The lack of sweetness, an extra firm bite, and a rock solid peel are some common signs to put that 'naner down, On top of being harder to digest, On the other end of the spectrum, don't avoid those dark spotted bananas. Common belief says that once it starts to turn brown, its gone bad; time to bust that myth! Research shows that as a banana ripens, it produces TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor), an antioxidant packed substance that fights disease and immune compromising cells.

Avocado

Unless you plan to use it the same day as purchase, you want to get an avocado that has a slight firmness still to it. But how exactly do you test without jamming your finger through the peel? Grasp the fruit (yes, it is considered a fruit) between your fingers and palm, like a soft fist, and should have a slight give, but still firm. As far as color goes, a ripe avocado can range between light green and a bold purple, depending on its origin, so always give a little squeeze to be sure.

Pineapple

They should be firm, but not solid enough to knock someone out. Since their texture is a bit rough, giving this a squeeze test might feel like gripping a cactus at times. A good gauge is the smell. A ripe pineapple will smell sweet, unripe will have no scent, and overripe can resemble vinegar/acidic.

Eggplant

A perfectly ripe eggplant will look like it had botox, never soft and wrinkly. A bright green stem also indicates freshness, so if it begins to yellow or brown, then it shouldn't make the cut for dinner. Try to aim for ones without scrapes or blemishes, not that they are any less pretty, but it does effect their growth and taste.

Mango

Because there are so many types of mangos, color is nearly useless unless you are certain what type you are buying. Similar to peaches, a mango will transition from firm to slightly soft at peak ripeness. If the touch test doesn't work, avoid refrigeration to help ripen quicker.

Strawberry

Time to trust your nose! The way they taste is exactly how they should smell; Rosy, Sweet, Refreshing. A white or green top is just a bit too early, so look for fully red ones throughout. Remember not to judge a book by its color, Some of the best tasting strawberries are lumpy and the shape of Illinois.

Peaches

The part of the peach that caught the most sun will become more red, and the opposite - called the ground color - will be more yellow. But the best sign is that there is 0% green tint around the stem. Plus, it should be slightly soft, but be ready for a plethora of sticky juice...ahem

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is among the only fruit or veggie that I don't enjoy, so this advice isn't based on personal experience. They should feel heavy and are told to smell sweet, but a tolerable level of sweetness (so, not like potent cotton candy). If you can let it ripen further by leaving it on the counter-top.

Find out why precision nutrition is on the forefront of lifestyle change here

But remember what I warned about above; when fruits reach their peak ripeness, they also are peaked in their sugar content! So be sure to not only use them as your avenue for food and fuel, balance them with sustainable protein and fat sources to paint a more complete picture. With these tips, your sunshine food shopping should go a bit smoother, and hopefully save you the trouble of buying spoiled fruits!

Wishing You Great Health and Strength,

Coach Sean