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Getting fresh with fruit.

APPLES

Look For: Firm, well-colored fruit. Immature apples lack color and may look shriveled after being stored.

Avoid: Fruit which yields to slight pressure on the skin and which has soft, mealy flesh, and fruit with bruised areas. Irregularly shaped tan or brown areas ("scald") may not seriously affect eating quality.

APRICOTS

Look For: Plump fruit with a uniform golden-orange color. Ripe apricots will yield to gentle pressure on the skin.

Avoid: Dull-looking, soft, or mushy fruit, and very firm, pale yellow or greenishyellow fruit.

BANANAS

Look For: Fruit which is firm and free from bruises or other injury. Best eating quality has been reached when the solid yellow skin color is specked with brown. Bananas with green tips or with practically no yellow color have not developed their full flavor.

Avoid: Bruised fruit, discolored skins, or a dull, grayish appearance. Occasionally, the skin may be entirely brown and yet the flesh will still be in prime condition.

BLUEBERRIES

Look For: A dark blue color with a silvery bloom. Blueberries that are plump, firm, uniform in size, dry, and free from stems or leaves.

CANTALOUPES (MUSK MELONS)

Look For: 1. The stem should be gone, leaving a smooth, shallow basin. 2. The netting, or veining, should be thick, coarse, and corky, and should stand out in bold relief over some part of the surface. 3. The skin color between the netting should have changed from green to a pale yellow.

A ripe cantaloupe has a yellowish rind, a pleasant cantaloupe odor when held to the' nose; and will yield slightly to light thumb pressure on the blossom (nonstem) end. To ripen a cantaloupe, keep it for two to four days at room temperature.

Avoid: A pronounced yellow rind color, a softening over the entire rind, or mold growth, particularly in the stem scar. Small bruises normally will not hurt the fruit.

CHERRIES

Look For: A very dark color, bright, glossy, plump-looking surfaces, and fresh-looking stems. For the richest flavor, most varieties should range from deep maroon or mahogany red to black.

Avoid: Shriveled fruit, dried stems, soft, leaking flesh, brown discoloration, mold growth, and a generally dull appearance. Because of their normal dark color, decayed areas are often inconspicuous.

GRAPEFRUIT

Look For: Smooth, firm, well-shaped fruits that are heavy for their size. Thin-skinned fruits have more juice than coarse-skinned ones. If a grapefruit is pointed at the stem end, it is likely to be thick-skinned. Skin defects such as scale, scars, thorn scratches, or discoloration usually do not affect quality.

Avoid: Rough, ridged, or wrinkled skin, which can be an indication of thick skin, pulpiness, and lack of juice. Soft, discolored areas on the peel at the stem end and a soft and tender peel that breaks easily with finger pressure.

GRAPES

Look For: Well-colored, plump grapes that are firmly attached to the stem. White or green grapes are sweetest when the color has a yellowish cast or straw color, with a tinge of amber. Red varieties are better when good red predominates on all or most of the grapes.

Avoid: Soft or wrinkled grapes and grapes with bleached areas around the stem end.

HONEY DEW MELONS Look For: A soft, velvety feel, a slight softening at the blossom end, a faint pleasant fruit aroma, and a yellowish white to creamy rind color.

Avoid: Fruit with a dead-white or greenishwhite color and hard, smooth feel; large bruised areas; cuts in the rind. Small, superficial sunken spots do not damage the melon for immediate use.

LEMONS: Look For: Firm and heavy fruit with a rich yellow color and reasonably smooth-textured skin with a slight gloss. A pale or greenish yellow color means slightly higher acidity. Coarse or rough skin texture is a sign of thick skin and not much flesh.

Avoid: Fruit with a darker yellow or dull color, hardening or shriveling of the skin, or soft spots or mold on the surface.

LIMES

Look For: Glossy skin and heavy weight for the size.

Avoid: Dull, dry skin, soft spots, or mold. Purplish or brownish irregular mottling of the outer skin surface is a condition called "scald," which in its early stages does not damage the flesh.

NECTARINES

Look For: Rich color and plumpness and a slight softening along the "seam." Most varieties are orange-yellow between the red areas, but some varieties are greenish. Bright-looking fruits which are firm to moderately hard will probably ripen within two or three days at room temperature.

Avoid: Hard, dull fruit, slightly shriveled fruit, soft fruit, or fruit with cracked skin.

ORANGES

Look for: firm and heavy oranges with fresh, bright-looking skin which is reasonably smooth for the variety.

Avoid: Lightweight fruit is likely to lack flesh content and juice. Very rough skin texture indicates thick skin and less flesh. Dull, dry skin and spongy texture indicate aging and deteriorated eating quality. Also avoid spots on the surface and discolored, weakened areas of skin around either end.

PEACHES

Look For: Fruit which is fairly firm or becoming a trifle soft. The skin color between the red areas should be yellow or at least creamy.

Avoid: Hard or very firm fruit with a distinctly green color, which probably won't ripen properly. Also very soft fruit, or fruit with large flattened bruises or with any sign of decay, which starts as a pale tan spot that expands in a circle and gradually turns darker.

PEARS

Look For: Firm fruit. Bartletts should be pale to rich yellow, Anjou or Comice should be light green to yellowish green, Bosc should be greenish yellow to brownish yellow. Pears which are hard when you buy them will probably ripen if kept at room temperature.

Avoid: Wilted or shriveled fruit with dull-appearing skin and slight weakening of the flesh near the stem. They won't ripen. Also avoid spots.

PINEAPPLES : Look For: Bright color, fragrant pineapple odor, and a very slight separation of the eyes--the berrylike fruitlets patterned in a spiral on the skin. In their mature stage, pineapples are usually dark green, firm, plump, and heavy for their size. As they ripen, they turn to orange and yellow.

Avoid: Fruit with sunken, slightly pointed, dark, or watery eyes; dull yellowish-green color; dried appearance; soft spots; traces of mold; an unpleasant odor.

PLUMS

Look For: Fruit that is fairly firm to slightly soft.

Avoid: Overly hard or soft fruit. Fruit with skin breaks or brownish discoloration.

RASPBERRIES & BOYSENBERRIES

Look For: A uniform good color. The small ceils that make up the berry should be plump and tender but not mushy. Berries should have no attached stem caps.

Avoid: Leaky and moldy berries and wet or stained spots on wood or fiber containers.

STRAWBERRIES

Look For: Clean and dry berries with a full red color and a bright luster, firm flesh, and a cap stem still attached. Medium to small strawberries are usually better than large ones.

Avoid: Berries with large uncolored or seedy areas, a dull shrunken appearance or softness, or mold, which can spread rapidly from one berry to another.

TANGERINES

Look For: Deep yellow or orange color and a bright luster. Because of the loose nature of the skin, fruit will frequently not feel firm to the touch.

Avoid: Very pale yellow or greenish fruits, although small green areas on otherwise high-colored fruit are not bad. Fruit with cut or punctured skins or very soft spots.

WATERMELONS Look For: Firm, juicy flesh with a good red color, free from white streaks; seeds which are dark brown or black. For uncut watermelons, look for a smooth, slightly dull surface. The ends should be filled out and rounded, and the underside ("belly") should have a creamy color.

Avoid: Pale colored, dry, mealy, watery, or stringy flesh with white streaks and whitish seeds.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:how to determine if fruit is fresh and ripe
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:May 1, 1992
Words:1289
Previous Article:Nutrition and aging.
Next Article:Fresh fruit: a papaya a day?
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