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Fruit Selection Guidelines


Apples

Ethylene-producing  Odor-producing
Best When — firm, bright skinned and well-colored.
Store — in coldest part of the refrigerator for seven to ten days. Unrefrigerated apples may turn soft and mealy. Apples produce ethylene. Avoid long-term storage next to ethylene-sensitive produce, such as Belgian endive, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, lettuce and greens, okra, parsley, peas, peppers, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and watermelon. Odors produced by apples can also be absorbed by other foods. Avoid long-term storage next to cabbage, carrots, celery, figs, onions, meat, eggs and dairy products.

Apricots

Ethylene-producing
Best When — fresh and plump with good color. We avoid fruit with brown spots or bruises, those that are soft, mushy, shriveled, dull in color or too green. We also avoid selecting rock-hard fruit. Apricots will ripen after harvest. To select a ripe apricot, look for a slight softening on the ridge. To ripen at home, store in a paper bag or warm area until soft on the ridge.
Store — refrigerated when ripe. Avoid long-term storage next to ethylene-sensitive produce. (See Ethylene-sensitive Produce.) Avoid freezing apricots, freeze damage can occur after one light freezing.

Asian Pear

Best When — firm and well shaped with a clear, rich color. We avoid selecting pears with bruises and soft spots. Can be ripened at room temperature.
Store — refrigerated, when ripe.

Avocados

Ethylene-producing
Best When — solid with a full neck. If using immediately, choose a ripe avocado that gives to gentle pressure in your palm. Haas avocados have a bumpy skin and turn nearly black when ripe. Ripe green varieties will have a dull-looking skin with a velvety feel, but should not turn black. We avoid selecting avocados that are hard or glistening with dark, sunken or soft spots. We also avoid cracked or broken skin. To ripen at home, put avocado in a paper bag or warm place in the kitchen. Check daily for ripeness.
Store — refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F), when ripe, but not on rack to avoid bruising. Unripe avocados should not be stored in refrigerator. Odors produced by avocados can be absorbed by pineapples, so keep them separate. Avocados are also susceptible to chilling and freeze damage.

Bananas

Ethylene-producing when ripe, Ethylene-sensitive when unripe
Best When — plump and well filled with a bright color and fresh stem area. Avoid cuts, splits, multiple bruises and mushy areas, or those dried out at the stem. A dull gray or smoky-color peel means they have most likely been stored in cold temperatures and may not ripen properly. Bananas ripen after harvest. One that is mostly yellow with a green tip will ripen in about two to three days in a paper bag or at room temperature.
Store — unrefrigerated. When refrigerated, the ripening process is halted. Though still edible, the skin will turn black. Bananas are susceptible to chill injury and freeze damage.

Blackberries

Best When — plump and fresh looking with good shape and color. Avoid those that are starting to soften, look shriveled, moldy or come in containers stained with juice. Berries do not ripen or get any sweeter after harvest.
Store — refrigerated in original container and use within one to two days. Do not wash until ready to use.

Blueberries

Best When — plump and fresh looking with a silvery sheen called the “bloom.” Berries do not ripen after harvest and blueberries with a reddish tint at the stem end may not be fully ripe. Avoid shriveled or decayed berries and containers wet with juice. Blueberries exposed to higher than recommended temperatures will appear rough textured. Avoid these, too.
Store — refrigerated in original container and use within one to two days. Do not wash until ready to use.

Breadfruit

Best When — smooth and yellow; free of bruises and soft spots.
Store — at room temperature.
Additional Notes — a breadfruit is a nutritious, starchy melon which can be substituted for potatoes when not ripe, and for bananas when ripe.

Cantaloupe

Ethylene-producing
Best When — completely covered with a light colored, course netting. When selecting a ripe melon, We look for one with a yellowish color under the netting, a slight give at the blossom end, and a clean indention at the stem end with no signs of the vine. Ripe cantaloupes will also emit a pleasant cantaloupe aroma. We avoid selecting those with part of the stem attached, large areas without netting, soft spots, bruising and cracks. We also avoid those that make a sloshy sound when shaken, are too yellow and/or have a wet stem end. Cantaloupes may be ripened at room temperature for a few days if desired.
Store — refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F), when ripe or cut. Remember, melons are freeze sensitive.

Star Fruiut (Carambola)

Best When — bright yellow with shiny skin and a good shape. We look for an elliptical or oval shape with five ridges. A Ripe Star Fruit will be full yellow in color without any green. Brown on the edges is normal. Unripe Star Fruit can be ripened at room temperature.
Store — refrigerated, when fully ripe. Susceptible to chilling and freeze damage when stored below 40°F. Do not cut until ready to use.

Casaba (Melon)

Best When — golden yellow with a slight give at the blossom end. Should be heavy. Avoid soft or watery spots, shriveled skin, cracks and any rot.
Store — age at room temperature for a few days, if desired, then refrigerate (45 ­ 55°F). Always refrigerate when cut.

Cherimoyas

Best When — plump, uniformly green and slightly soft. Avoid brown, bruised, mushy fruit. Can be ripened at room temperature until they begin to turn brown. Do not let them get too brown.
Store — refrigerated, when ripe. Do not wash until you are ready to use. Can be stored in refrigerator for five to seven days or frozen for up to eight weeks.
Additional Notes — a cherimoya is a sweet, creamy, subtropical fruit that combines the flavors of pineapple, papaya, passionfruit, banana, mango and lemon into one. To eat, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh. Add to fruit salads, or puree and use as a mousse or pie filling.

Cherries

Best When — plump, firm, shiny and well colored with green, fresh stems. Cherries do not ripen after harvest so select full-colored fruit. Avoid those that are bruised, soft, shriveled or mushy. Also avoid those with splits, cracks or dried and shriveled stems.
Store — loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for one to three days. Do not wash until ready to use. Very odor sensitive.

Coconuts

Best When — solid and heavy with milk sloshing around inside when shaken. Avoid those that don't slosh, as well as lightweight coconuts with any holes, moisture, cracks or mold, especially around the “eyes.”
Store — refrigerated, until ready to use.

Crab Apple

Best When — bright green, orange or red, firm and unblemished.
Store — refrigerated.
Additional Notes — tart and often used to make jelly, wine, apple butter and other foods.

Cranberries

Best When — bright and plump, firm and dry. Also look for good color and uniform size. Avoid those that are shriveled, crushed, soft or bruised.
Store — refrigerated.

Crenshaw (Melon)

Best When — show little or no green (except in September). Should be heavy and have a fragrant stem cut. Avoid those with soft or watery spots, shriveled skin, cracks and any rot.
Store — at room temperature for a few days, if desired, then refrigerate (45 ­ 55°F). Always refrigerate when cut.

Dates

Best When — plump, soft, golden brown with smooth, glossy skin. Avoid those that are shriveled, dull looking, moldy, sticky or have any fermented odor.
Store — refrigerated and wrapped or in a sealed container to prevent them from absorbing odors. Remember, dates are susceptible to freezing damage.

Feijoas (Pineapple Guava)

Best When — oval shaped with deep green or green­yellow skin that is relatively blemish free.
Store — refrigerated and use promptly.
Additional Notes — most often eaten peeled and raw, but also used to make sauces, jellies, jams and desserts.

Figs

Best When — fairly soft with a rich color and a fresh smell. Avoid those that are bruised, shriveled, mushy or have any signs of rot. Also avoid those with a sour or fermented odor. Figs should not seem wet or have juice seeping from them. Also avoid those that are too hard.
Store — at room temperature to soften. If soft, refrigerate covered and use in one to three days.

Ginger root

Best When — “hands” are large and fat with smooth skin, a slight sheen and fresh ginger smell. Avoid shriveled root and those with rot or mold. Also avoid numerous knobs and a musty odor.
Store — loosely wrapped in the refrigerator. Can be frozen.

Grapefruit

Best When — plump and heavy with firm skin. Most scarring on skin does not affect fruit. Avoid those that are puffy and soft, lightweight or browning, or have soft, discolored or moldy spots. Also avoid grapefruit with a pointed end, a soft peel or water-soaked areas. Grapefruit does not get any riper once it has been picked.
Store — at room temperature or refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F). Avoid storage below 40°F.

Grapes

Best When — fresh and bright with green pliable stems. Look for plump, well­developed grapes that are firmly attached to the stem. Black and red varieties should be deeply colored; green varieties should have a light green­yellow tint. Avoid brown shriveled stems, soft, squashed grapes and stems with too many loose grapes. Also avoid those that show signs of leaking juice. A slight powdery appearance (bloom) on the fruit is natural.
Store — refrigerated in a plastic bag, in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Do not rinse until ready to use. Grapes do not get any sweeter or ripen after harvest so consume promptly.

Guava

Best When — fresh looking with green or yellow skin, and white, deep pink or red flesh. To eat fresh, select a guava that yields to gentle pressure. For cooking jams, preserves or sauces, choose a firm one.
Store — at room temperature to ripen.

Honeydew

Ethylene­producing & Ethylene-sensitive Best When — creamy white or yellow colored, with a slight give when pressed and heavy for its size. A ripe honeydew will have a dusty velvety feel when you run your hand over the skin. Avoid those that are too white, green or hard. Also avoid those that are completely smooth. Avoid soft or watery spots, shriveled skin, cracks and any rot. Honeydew melons continue to ripen after harvest.
Store — at room temperature for a few days, if desired, then refrigerate (45 ­ 55°F). Always refrigerate when cut.

Loquat (Japanese Plum)

Best When — fresh looking with thin, downy skin that is pale or orange. Should yield to gentle pressure when ripe. Avoid obvious blemishes.
Store — refrigerated when ripe.
Additional Notes — the loquat has a delicate, sweetly tart cherry-like flavor and is often used in chicken or duck dishes.

Lychee

Best When — firm, brown and fresh looking. Avoid those with any sign of decay or a pronounced blemish near the stem.
Store — refrigerated.
Additional Notes — the lychee is juicy, creamy and delicately sweet. It is usually eaten as a snack like nuts or grapes.

Mangoes

Ethylene-producing
Best When — plump, fresh looking and smooth skinned. The skin may be green, yellow, red or a combination of all three colors. Ripe mangoes give to gentle pressure and smell sweet. Most varieties change colors as they ripen — a mostly yellow or red color, being a good indication of ripeness. However, some varieties can be ripe while still green. Avoid mangoes that are bright green or rock hard, as well as overly soft, shriveled or with large black spots and bruises. Small dark speckles are not a problem if the fruit is otherwise in good condition. Mangoes will ripen after harvest. Squeeze for a slight give and pleasant aroma to determine ripeness.
Store — at room temperature (70 ­ 75°F) to ripen or place in a paper bag to hasten process. Refrigerate ripe mangoes to slow further ripening, but use promptly.

Mangosteen

Best When — rind is a rich, reddish brown, free from bruises, blemishes or pitting. When ripe, is plump and yields to gentle pressure.
Store — at room temperature (70 ­ 75°F) to ripen and refrigerated when ripe.
Additional Notes — the mangosteen is no relation to the mango. It is more like a tangerine, with a refreshingly juicy, sweet/tart taste.

Kiwifruit (Chinese Gooseberry)

Ethylene-producing
Best When — firm, light brown, plump and fresh looking. Ripe kiwifruit should give to gentle palm pressure. Avoid rock hard, mushy, bruised or shriveled fruit. To ripen at home, place in a paper bag at room temperature and check daily for a gentle give.
Store — refrigerated in the coldest part of the refrigerator when ripe.

Kumquats

Best When — firm and fresh looking with bright, shiny color. Should ` appear glossy and relatively unblemished. Any leaves should be fresh and green. Avoid mold rot and dry leaves.
Store — loosely wrapped in the refrigerator. Use in two to four days.
Additional Notes — the kumquat's skin is sweet and its flesh tart. The entire fruit is eaten raw when very ripe or more often candied and pickled whole, or used in marmalades and preserves.

Lady Apple

Best When — blemish free and light in color. When ripe, will be about the size of an apricot with a characteristic crisp texture.
Store — refrigerated or in a cool place.
Additional Notes — the lady apple is sweet/tart and often used as a garnish.

Lemons

Best When — fine textured, thin skinned and heavy with good, deep yellow color. Avoid lemons that are shriveled, hard skinned or soft and spongy and any with mold. The stem end is where signs of aging or decay show up first.
Store — refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F) for five to seven days.
Additional Notes — lemons absorb odors well.

Limes

Best When — plump, fresh, glossy looking and heavy with a bright, thin skin. Avoid shriveled, soft limes and those with dry, woody skins. Also avoid mold and bruises. Keep limes away from sunlight, as this will cause yellowing and faster deterioration.
Store — refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F) for five to seven days.

Nectarines

Best When — firm, plump and well­formed with smooth, unblemished skin. Look for good, bright color without a green tint or green at the stem end. A ripe nectarine will give slightly along the seam and will have a pleasant, peachy fragrance. Avoid nectarines that are hard, shriveled or have a dull color. Also avoid overly soft nectarines and those with bruises, blemishes and/or dark spots. Nectarines will ripen after harvest.
Store — in a warm place or paper bag. Check for ripeness daily. Store ripe nectarines in the refrigerator. Consume in three to five days.

Oranges

Odor-producing
Best When — firm, heavy and plump with bright color and smooth, tight skin. Color alone is not an indication of a good orange, as some oranges remain green after harvest. Avoid loose skin in all varieties except tangerines, which should have loose skin. Avoid all that are dull, shriveled, soft, spongy or bruised. Also avoid those that are lightweight with soft spots, mold or any other signs of decay.
Store — refrigerated for a week or more. California oranges store best (between 45 ­ 55°F), while Florida oranges prefer colder temperatures (33 ­ 40°F).

Papaya

Best When — smooth skinned, medium sized and well shaped with some yellow and green color. A ripe papaya is at least 3/4 yellow or yellow-orange and will yield to gentle pressure. Avoid soft spots, bruises, broken skin and dark brown or black spots. Also avoid shriveled and overly soft papaya, or those that are hard and green. Papaya will ripen after harvest.
Store — at room temperature until papaya gives to gentle pressure and has a pleasant papaya aroma. Store in a paper bag to shorten ripening time. Check daily. Refrigerate ripe papaya. Use promptly.

Passion fruit (Granadilla)

Best When — skin is tough, deep purple and wrinkled in appearance. Should be similar to an egg in size and shape.
Store — refrigerated.

Pawpaw (Papaw)

Best When — firm, creamy and yellow. Avoid ones that bear any indication of deformity or deterioration.
Store — at room temperature until ripe and then refrigerate.
Additional Notes — The pawpaw is a member of the cherimoya family. It has a custard-like texture and a sweet flavor reminiscent of bananas and pears.

Peaches

Best When — firm and bright, gives to gentle pressure and has a pleasant aroma. Should have a yellowish or creamy tint color with little or no green. Avoid shriveled, soft peaches and those with bruises. Also avoid those that are very hard or look too green. Peaches will ripen, getting softer and juicer after harvest. Ripen in a warm area or paper bag. Check daily for ripeness.
Store — in the coldest part of the refrigerator when ripe. But not too cold — peaches are susceptible to freezing damage. Consume in two to four days.

Pears (Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Seckel, Red)

Ethylene-producing
Best When — bright and fresh looking with no bruises or external damage. Pears are harvested before they ripen and other than Bartletts do not dramatically change color when ripe. Test for ripeness by pressing gently near the stem, if it gives to gentle pressure it is sweet, juicy and ready to eat. Waiting until pears are soft around the middle may indicate over ripeness. Ripen pears in a warm place in a fruit bowl or in a paper bag. Check daily for ripeness.
Store — in the coldest part of the refrigerator when ripe.

Persian Melons

Best When — netting is full and light­colored and stem cut is fragrant. A slight give is a good sign. Avoid those with green or dark netting, obvious bruises, soft and or watery spots, and cracks. Also avoid those with a sloshy sound when shaken or with a wet stem end.
Store — at room temperature for a few days, if desired, then refrigerate (45 ­ 55°F). Always refrigerate when cut.

Persimmons

Best When — smooth and plump with bright glossy skin and the stem cap attached. For immediate consumption, look for one that is a bit soft and even shriveled. Avoid those that are decayed, bruised or overly hard. A persimmon will ripen after harvest.
Store — at room temperature or in a paper bag and check daily for ripeness.

Pineapple

Best When — fresh looking with green, crisp leaves. Should be a good size, heavy and plump with smooth, flat “eyes.” Color is not a fail­safe indicator of ripeness, nor is pulling out a leaf. Avoid pineapples with bruises, soft spots and dry-looking leaves, or moldy, dark, watery eyes. Smell the end of a pineapple, avoiding those with an unpleasant smell. Pineapple will not ripen or gain sugar after harvested. However, it will begin to ferment and the flavor changes, which some people mistake for ripening.
Store — refrigerated (45 ­ 55°F), especially when cut.

Plantain

Best When — clean, green and free from signs of deterioration. May be purchased at varying levels of ripeness — green to yellow­black in color. Plantains become sweeter as they ripen.
Store — at room temperature.

Plumcot

Best When — plump with a rich, deep purple skin. Select those without blemishes.
Store — at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate.
Additional Notes — a plumcot is a cross between a plum and apricot.

Plums

Ethylene-producing
Best When — plump and fairly firm to slightly soft. Avoid fruit with bruises, cracks, splits and soft spots. Also avoid shriveled fruit that is overly soft or that is too hard. Plums will ripen after harvest. A ripe plum will yield to gentle pressure.
Store — unripe plums at room temperature or in a paper bag. Check daily for softness. Store ripe plums in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Consume in three to five days.

Pomegranates

Best When — large and heavy with good color and free of cracks or splits. Large fruit will have fully developed juicy seeds. The skin can range in color from bright yellow to deep red. Avoid dry, shriveled and tired­looking fruit.
Store — refrigerated.

Prickly Pear (Barberry Fig, Indian Fig, Cactus Pear)

Best When — skin is bright red, indicating flesh will be yellow. Should feel firm but not rock hard.
Store — refrigerated when ripe.

Quince

Best When — large and firm with pale yellow skin that is smooth and has a woolly texture. Avoid fruit with bruises or cuts.
Store — in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator.

Raspberries

Best When — plump, fresh looking with good shape and rich, full color. Purchase those that are dry and are free from bruises or mold. Avoid those that are starting to soften, look shriveled, moldy or are packaged in containers stained with juice. Berries will not ripen or get any sweeter after harvest.
Store — refrigerated and use promptly. Use within one to two days in original container. Do not wash until you are ready to use. Remember, berries are susceptible to freeze damage.

Rhubarb

Best When — fresh looking and firm with medium-thick, straight stalks. Choose bright, glossy stems that are crisp and pinkish-red in color. Avoid stalks that look wilted, flabby or rubbery.
Store — refrigerated.

Santa Claus Melon

Best When — color is green and gold, but not too green. Should be heavy with a slight give. Stem cut may be moderately fragrant. Avoid soft or watery spots, shriveled skin, cracks and any rot.
Store — at room temperature for a few days, if desired, then refrigerate (45 ­ 55°F). Always refrigerate when cut.

Star Apple

Best When — clean with a smooth surface and a dull purple or light green color. Avoid those with bruises or deformed fruit. Store — refrigerated.
Additional Notes — when cut, the star apple has a core that takes on a star shape. The skin and rind are inedible. In Jamaica, the flesh is often mixed with orange juice, sugar, nutmeg and sherry, and eaten as dessert.

Strawberries

Best When — bright red, plump, well shaped and full colored with a natural sheen and fresh green cap. Strawberries do not get any riper or sweeter after harvest, so the more color the better. Those that are full red will be the sweetest. Avoid shriveled, dried out-looking berries with a dry brown cap. Also avoid soft berries with brown spots or too many bruises, green immature berries or those with too much white. Finally, avoid cartons that appear stained or moist, as this may indicate fruit damage.
Store — removed from container and loosely covered with plastic wrap in coldest part of the refrigerator. Use in one to three days. Wash with caps on when ready to use.
Additional Notes — allowing berries to reach room temperature can improve flavor.

Tomatoes

Ethylene-producing
Best When — Plump and firm (not hard) with a tight skin. Look for evenly colored tomatoes without blemishes. Avoid those that are spongy, soft or split, or have a dried out calyx at the stem. Tomatoes continue to ripen after harvest. To eat today, choose full-colored, evenly red, ripe-looking tomatoes. For later use, select a tomato that is lighter red or green colored. Store — at room temperature. Never refrigerate; they will lose flavor, become watery inside and the seeds can become bitter. If an unripe tomato is stored in the refrigerator it may never ripen properly, even if taken out to ripen.
Additional Notes — place unripe tomatoes in a warm spot or in a paper bag until ready to eat. To speed the process, place a high ethylene-producing fruit, such as a banana or apple, in the bag. To test for ripeness, gently squeeze the tomato in your palm. A ripe tomato will yield slightly to gentle pressure. A Roma tomato may be slightly firmer when ripe as they contain less juice.

Tamarind (Indian Date)

Best When — seed pod is cinnamon-brown, fresh, tender and three to eight inches long. The pod should be flat, and free from bruises or deformities. Store — refrigerated.
Additional Notes — tamarind pulp concentrate is a popular flavoring in East Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines and used to season chutneys and curries. It is also made into syrup.

Ugli Fruit

Best When — heavy and fresh looking with good color. Should be free from bruises, browning and softness. The skin typically has a rough, mottled peel with light green blemishes that turn orange when the fruit is fully ripe. Store — at room temperature or in refrigerator.
Additional Notes — the ugli fruit is a Jamaican hybrid of a tangerine, grapefruit and possibly a pommelo.

Watermelon

Ethylene-sensitive
Best When — skin is relatively smooth with a velvety bloom on the rind. Look for a yellow or light­colored spot where it rested on the ground while growing (ground spot). The ends of the watermelon should be well-rounded and full. Avoid shiny fruit with a white or greenish ground spot. Also avoid those with cuts, scars or bruises, or a white streak running the length of the melon. Watermelons do not ripen after they are picked. Store — at room temperature and use promptly. Cut watermelon should be covered with plastic wrap, refrigerated and also used promptly.
Additional Notes — if you are buying cut melon, look for firm flesh with good color and black or dark brown seeds. Avoid a watery melon. If it is a melon with seeds, avoid those with white, immature seeds, with a sugary look around the seeds, or with seeds that are beginning to separate from the flesh.
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