If you’re heading out to the market or a pick-your-own-fruit farm, how do you know which ones to choose? If you buy fruits or vegetables that are not quite ripe, will they continue to ripen over time at home?
Since every fruit is different and “ripe” can be defined in different ways, it’s difficult to give a definite yes or no answer. Every fruit undergoes changes after it’s picked, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting tastier.
Some fruits (like bananas) actually ripen and get sweeter after picking. Others (such as pineapple) will change color and soften, but really not get much sweeter. Some foods (like lemons) will sit there and do nothing until they rot.
Regardless of the science involved in the ripening process, the most important factor is whether you can buy or pick a fruit or vegetable before it’s ripe and allow it to ripen at home. To that end, here’s a list of common fruits and vegetables that should help you decide.
Foods that Continue to Ripen After Picking
Keep in mind that, with the exception of avocados, all fruits have the best flavor when picked ripe or almost ripe. However, the following fruits will continue to ripen and improve somewhat after picking:
- Apples (best if tree-ripened, but can be picked a week early for longer storage)
- Avocados (ONLY ripen after picking!)
- Bananas (will ripen a great deal and can be picked green)
Foods That Should Be Ripe When Picked
These fruits are best picked fully ripe:
- Berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- Citrus (such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
- Summer Squash