Some of you may or may not know but I worked in the grocery retail business for 13 years. I started when I was 15, worked through a variety of departments then landed into management until I came out to California. I had a few years of working in the produce department where I learned a few tricks of the trade about some of our favorite summer fruits. I’d like to share those tips with you:
To tell when a pineapple is ripe, find one that has a leaf at the very top. Tug gently on that leaf, if the leaf comes free, you will know that the pineapple is ripe inside. If the leaf stays, look for another one unless you have a few days before your big party.
Yes, there is the sound test. That is, when you tap on a watermelon, a ripe watermelon will come back sounding hollow, however, there are a few other key signs to look for:
The shape, firmness, and look for a watermelon free of scars and bruises. Turn the watermelon over on the bottom, there should be a small creamy yellow spot. This is where the watermelon sat on. If this spot is more white or greenish, it’s a good indication that the watermelon is not quite ripe.
And lift the watermelon up. Ripe watermelons have more water weight so they will appear much heavier.
The Color: When picking out a cantaloupe, the first thing you can look at is the color. If it’s too green, it’s far from being ripe. If it’s a nice brown color you have a good chance of it being ripe.
Use your nose: Smell the cantaloupe. The fragrance should be sweet, but not overwhelming.
For peaches it comes down to two things: smell and color. If it smells good, you can bet it will taste good. How many times have you walked into a grocery store and walked by the peaches and just the fragrance captured you. Well, make sure a smell is coming out of the ones you pick.
The other thing to look for is with the weight. The heavier the better because it’s a good sign the moisture has stayed within the fruit, and they’ll be a lot of juicy flavor in each bite.
There have been so many times where I’ve had to go through the strawberry cartons while in the produce department. Strawberries can go bad pretty quick, and it’s a good idea as you go through the cartons to look for any indication of mold. Also, stay away from the strawberries that have dark spots, or feel soft, they are over riped. Look for the bright color reds, and the green leafs.
But, the truth is, the sweetest of strawberries will be found from the stands throughout the area, not necessary at the store.
Again, utilize your nose, they should have a fresh fragrance. And when you press on the mango, there should be a little bit of a give, but not too much. If it’s too firm, it’s far from being ripe.
To find a ripe kiwi, you should squeeze it a little with your thumb and the pad of your hand. It will give a little. Also look for soft spots around the kiwi. If you find wrinkles, it is over ripe. It should be consistently colored all away around.
Pick your honeydew melon up and sniff at the end where the eye of the melon is. A sweet scent should come out. This is a good indication of how ripe the melon is. Honeydew’s should also feel a little waxy, another good sign of it’s r ipeness.
Have fun this summer with your fruits, I know, for me, this is my favorite time of the year. I can’t get enough watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries. And always remember to know the seasons to get the best out of your fruits.