Is it Ripe? Here’s a Quick Way to Tell

Updated February 21, 2019, 9:16 a.m.

Have you ever pulled out an avocado from your fridge and wondered why it’s not ripe yet or spent time in the produce isle unsure if the fruit is ripe? Sometimes it can be confusing trying to figure it out. Here are a few quick tips to help remove the guesswork with picking produce and storing produce at home.

Avocados. Place it in the palm of your hands and squeeze gently to check for firmness. It should not be too soft or too firm. If your fingers sink just a little (as if squeezing the palm of your hands), then it’s ripe. If it sinks too much, then it won’t last long. If it’s firm and doesn’t sink at all, then it’s not ripe at all. As a rule of thumb, avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Keep it stored at room temperature until ripe. Once ripened, it can be refrigerated up to one week. To keep it fresh after using part of it, soak a brush in lemon juice and coat throughout the surface. Keep it wrapped in plastic.
Coconut. Shake it to hear the sound of coconut water inside. It should be heavy and full. If you hear nothing, that is because the coconut is dry and therefore the pulp is stale. Avoid ones with black spots. If the coconut is fresh and unopened, it can be stored at room temperature for 2-4 months. An opened coconut can be refrigerated in a bowl covered with water to remain fresh for 3-4 days. In a freezer, it can last up to 9 months. Shredded coconuts placed in an airtight container can last a long time.
Papayas. It should be soft to the touch with a faint sweet smell. While a few black spots on the surface will not affect the taste of the papaya, avoid those with bruises or overly soft. Just ripe will have a reddish-orange peel. Avoid buying papayas that are totally green. Unripe papayas (partly yellow) can be stored at room temperature. To speed up the ripening process, place it in a paper bag with a banana. A ripe papaya can be refrigerated and eaten within a day or two to enjoy the most flavor.
Mango. Push down at the stem end to smell the mango. Ripe mangoes will have a sweet aroma, be soft to the touch, and have tight skin. It will sink gently when you press down with your fingers. Unripe mangoes are green and odorless. If the fruit looks wrinkled and has a sour or alcohol smell, then the fruit is stale and fermenting. Mangoes can be stored at room temperature for three to four days. In the freezer, it can last up to a month in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bags to avoid contact with freezer frost.
Oranges. It pays to choose oranges that are heavy for their size. Those tend to be the juiciest. Ripe oranges will appear firm, smooth, and have a sweet aroma. The color is not necessarily indicative of maturity, but avoid those with rough surfaces and dark spots. Oranges can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place for one or two weeks. Inside the refrigerator, it can be stored longer. Once cut, it is advisable to consume within one day before certain minerals and vitamins are lost.
Pineapples. Ripe pineapples are orange-yellow or have hints of yellow. At the base of the fruit, the aroma will be as sweet as candy. The leaves should be healthy green and tear easily. Avoid pineapples that feel wet to the touch, are reddish-bronze or have withered leaves. Once ripe, you should peel, cut, and store them in a tightly sealed container. Refrigerate up to one week. If stored in the freezer, it can last up to 5 months.

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