How to Choose and Store Fruit

There is nothing worse than cutting into a piece of fruit with anticipation only to find it’s either under-ripe or over-ripe.  Having your fruit go bad prematurely can be just as frustrating; you want the fruits you’re buying to stay fresh as long as possible.

Here are some ideas on how to choose and store fruit (I have had good luck with keeping certain fruits for a longer period of time by storing them in “Debbie Meyer Green Bags”.

Apples:  They should be firm and have no holes or bruising. There are so many different varieties with different textures and flavours.  My favorites are Red Delicious and, when available, Ambosia.  Apples will ripen very quickly at room temperature. Store in your fridge’s crisper where they will last for 2 to 3 weeks or longer; don’t store other fruit or vegetables in the crisper with them as they will tend to speed up the ripening process of many fruits and vegetables.

Bananas: These are ripe when they are yellow in color and still a little firm; avoid ones that are starting to get brown dots unless you plan on eating them in the next few days. Green bananas will slowly ripen.  Try to judge how fast you think they will be eaten.  To slowly ripen, place in a plastic  bag; to speed ripening place in a paper bag. Bananas can also be peeled and cut into 4 or 5 pieces and placed in freezer bags.  Add a handful when making smoothies. When they are overripe, even black, that’s when they are at their sweetest. Mash them and either add to your favorite banana bread recipe or freeze them for use later. If you don’t want them frozen then just thaw by placing in hot water when ready to use.

Cantaloupe:  Avoid ones that still have the stem attached. Best if the skin is an even yellow color with hardly any green. The stem should have a sweet smell and the seeds inside should rattle if shaken. They can be ripened at room temperature at home; they will not ripen if refrigerated. If blending down for a smoothie, don’t forget to add the seeds.

Oranges: Make sure they are heavy for their size and not too hard.  If you squeeze them, there should be some give but not too much. If they are all too hard, leave them out of the fridge for a few days to ripen, then refrigerate in a crisper.  Do not store with apples. When you peel an orange make sure to leave on the pith (the white stuff just under the skin, that’s where most of the Vitamin C is found). Use a citrus zester to peel them.

Pineapple: They should be firm and have no bruises.  The leaves should be green and the bottom should have a sweet pineapple smell.  If you’re going to be adding these to a smoothie, be sure to get the benefit of the nutrition within the hard core by using a high-powered blender like the Blendtec or Vitamix.

Strawberries:  Choose berries that are firm, plump, have a sweet strawberry aroma, and are bright red all over with no blemishes or dark red spots. The stems should be green and healthy.  Store in the fridge. Do not remove the stems or wash the strawberries until you are ready to use them.

Watermelon:  They should be smooth and a waxy green in color; they may also have stripes, or be yellow on one side (I have been told that having yellow on the side where the watermelon would have rested on the ground is an indication of ripeness). Avoid melons that are white or pale green.  Be sure to choose melons that are heavy, since those will be juicier.  When you tap on the melon it should give a deep, hollow tone.  Immediately place in fridge, once cut the exposed area should be covered with plastic wrap.

You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your budget when you know how to choose and store fruit.