Fall is quickly approaching and I know many people like to consume fruit that are in season. I realize, for some that picking out produce can be a little intimidating! What do you look for when choosing fruit? How do you know when a certain fruit is ripe?
Some of the fruit that are great in the fall include cherries, pears, apples, cranberries, plums, grapes, key limes, kumquats, passion fruit, pineapples, and pomegranates. Below are tips for picking out 5 of the most popular fruits for fall.
Picking out pineapples can be tricky. They are a fruit that stops ripening as soon as they are harvested and they are coming to us from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Mexico. (Sidenote: If you ever have a chance to go to Puerto Rico or one of the countries mentioned, make sure you load up on Pineapples! – They are the best you will ever have!)
Pineapples are usually shipped to grocery stores slightly under-ripe. The leaves on top of the pineapples are the best indicator for picking the perfect pineapple. If the leaves pop right off, the pineapple is past its prime. The leaves on the crown should look green, healthy and fresh. You also want your pineapple to feel plump and firm. If it’s soft and squishy, it’s probably past its prime.
To pick the perfect apple, pick it up and gently press a small area of the skin. It should be firm to the touch. Avoid apples that are noticeably soft, discolored, or indent easily after you press the skin. Some marking on the fruit (like a scuff or specks) comes from nature and doesn’t signal a bad apple. However, apples with bruising or obvious signs of decay aren’t going to provide the best eating experience and should be avoided. Although color is not the best indicator of a great eating apple, it can be helpful when selecting this fruit. Apples with full color have absorbed lots of sunlight which leads to great flavors. A fresh, high-quality apple should also have a pleasant aroma and some varieties have a stronger fragrance than others.
You’ll quickly learn which apples are best for baking (Golden Delicious apples, Rome apples) and which are better for fresh eating (Red Delicious apples, Honeycrisp apples). There are also versatile apples that are great no matter how you plan to enjoy them (like Piñata apples, Pink Lady apples, and Fuji apples). Selecting an apple that best fits how you’ll use them at home is essential in having a great apple eating experience!
Unlike some fruits, grapes do not continue to ripen after they’ve been harvested. Therefore, they should be purchased at peak quality and sweetness. Color is a good indicator of the eating experience you can expect from grapes. Green grapes are the sweetest and best flavored when they are yellow-green in color. Grapes should be firm, plump and firmly attached to the stems. Berries that are wet, moldy, or shriveled at the stem attachment should be avoided, as they indicate decay. If grapes are at their freshest, the stems will be green and flexible versus dry and brittle. If you see a powdery-white coating on your grapes, don’t worry – it’s bloom and it’s a good sign! Bloom is a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay. It may not wash off your grapes easily, but thankfully it is perfectly safe to eat.
You can tell a pear is ready to eat when the flesh just below the point where the stem joins the fruit yields evenly to gentle pressure. Pears for salads or cooking can be a little less ripe. Don’t buy pears that are soft anywhere else, as that indicates that they are overripe and the flesh will be mushy and mealy. If you want to eat the pears in a few days, the top should still be hard. Store pears at room temperature, and depending on the variety, they will ripen in a few days. If you want to speed things up, place the pears in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple — these other fruits give off ethylene gas, which the pears will soak up and then start to produce themselves, speeding up the ripening process.
Remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit or vegetable year-round! Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juices are all great options.