How to Choose and Store Fruit for Maximum Freshness and Flavor

by Mikey Rox on 16 October 2013 1 comment

Do you stand in the produce section poking and prodding your fruit before making your picks? That's OK in some instances, since many fruits continue ripening after they've been picked. But not all fruits are created equal. For some, the ripening process stops once they're plucked from the plant from which they came. How do you know which fruits continue ripening and which don't? Take a look at our list of fruits that get better with age and those that come as they are. (See also: Produce Worker's Guide to Choosing Fruits and Veggies)

Fruits That Ripen After Picking

These fruits, called climacteric fruits, continue to ripen after picking because of the natural chemicals they contain — primarily ethylene gas — that are produced from within the fruit. These chemicals release enzymes called amylases, which turn stored starch into sugar making the fruits sweeter. Other enzymes — hydrolases — break down the fruit's chlorophyll, resulting in richer color. The fruit also becomes softer, which can lead to "over-ripening," as the amount of pectin is lessened by enzymes called pectinases.

Once you bring them home, here's how to store climacteric fruits to ensure that they ripen properly, courtesy of The Fruitguys Almanac:

Melons

Store at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate for up to 10 days.

Peaches and Nectarines

You can speed up the ripening process of peaches and other stone fruits by placing them in a paper bag. Otherwise, they should be stored at room temperature and away from direct sunlight and heat.

Apples

Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat. Apples can last up to six weeks in the fridge. (See also: 23 Great Ways to Use Apples)

Avocados

Store at room temperature until ripe. A ripe avocado will yield to firm gentle pressure, and the color will be almost black. To speed up the ripening process if you've bought under-ripe avocados, place them in a paper bag for a couple of days.

Mangoes

Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Pears

Pears are normally picked before peak ripeness to avoid bruising during transit. Store at room temperature away from sunlight and heat. When a pear gives to touch, it's ready to eat.

Tomatoes

Do not refrigerate tomatoes until they're fully ripe; allowing to ripen at room temperature with the stem side down will result in more flavorful tomatoes.

Bananas

Store bananas at room temperature away from direct sunlight and heat. Bananas should not be placed in the fridge as this will turn the skin black. To speed up the ripening process for not-quite-ripe bananas, place them in a paper bag with an apple overnight. Once they're ripe though, keep them longer by wrapping the stems in plastic.

Plums

Like peaches and pears, plums are sweet and delicious when they give softly to gentle touch. Store away from direct sunlight and heat.

Guava

Store at room temperature until ripe, then in the fridge for up to four days.

Cantaloupes

Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Kiwis

Store at room temperature until ripe. A ripe kiwi will stay fresh in the fridge for a few days, while a very firm unripe kiwi will keep in the fridge for up to two months.

Fruits That Don't Ripen After Picking

These fruits, called non-climacteric fruits, ripen only while they're still attached to the plant. Once they're picked, the ripening process stops. Unlike climacteric fruits that you can allow to ripen at home if they're under-ripe when you buy them (giving you an increased amount of time to consume them), when non-climacteric are picked at the peak of ripeness, the rapid-rot potential is hastened. On the flip side, if these fruits are picked when they're not quite ripe yet, the result could be a harder, tarter fruit than you'd like.

Here's how to store them.

Berries (Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Strawberries)

Since berries are a non-climacteric fruit, they're already ripe when you buy them. As such, they should be consumed immediately. But you can help them keep a little longer by storing them in a single layer, so the juices don't leak onto the berries below. (See also: How to Preserve In-Season Foods for Off-Season Treats)

Watermelons

Wrap cut up melon tightly in plastic or foil or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to four days.

Cherries

Do not wash cherries until you're ready to eat. Excess can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to a week.

Figs

Another non-climacteric fruit, figs are picked ripe. Enjoy them right away or store them in the fridge until you're ready to eat them.

Grapes

Do not wash grapes until you're ready to eat. Excess can be stored in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag (what they usually come in from the supermarket) for up to a week.

Grapefruit

Grapefruits will stay fresh at room temperature for a week and up to several weeks in the fridge.

Oranges and Tangerines

Store at room temperature for a couple weeks or in the fridge for up to several weeks.

Lemons and Limes

Store at room temperature for a couple weeks or in the fridge for up to several weeks.

Pineapple

Wrap cut up pineapple tightly in plastic or foil or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to four days.

How to Pick the Best Fruit at the Supermarket

I found this handy guide to picking fruit (from wikiHow) that may help you take home the best produce available the next time you're shopping. Three tips include:

1. Buy in Season

Out-of-season fruit has a longer distance to travel because it comes from further away, so it's always best to buy in-season produce to ensure a higher quality of freshness and flavor. (See also: Fresh Fruits and Veggies By the Month)

2. Use Your Senses

Employ your senses of touch, smell, and sight to pick the best produce. Instituting a little common sense doesn't hurt either. If there are a lot of bruises or (eek!) mold, steer clear.

3. Check the Stem

If your fruit has a stem on it, use it as a guide to determine freshness. A green stem on ripe fruit is a winner; a green stem on hard fruit permits caution.

Do you have other tips for choosing the best fruits and how to store them properly? Let me know in the comments below.

4.5
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

1 discussion

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
Amy

This is so useful, we have a full apple tree so trying to get through as many as possible to avoid wastage, having fridge space for fruit definitely helps!