How to Tell if Your Fruit and Veg is RipeJune 1, 2016
If you struggle to pick the perfect pumpkin, or ‘av an avocado worth smashing, look no further than this handy guide for how to tell if your fruit and veg is ripe. And in case you picked up something not yet ready to eat or a little past its prime, we’ve got some handy hacks for that too.
If you’re growing your own pumpkin, it should be left growing until the vine has withered, and picked with as long a piece of stalk as possible. When buying pumpkin, pick whole pumpkins (cut ones do not continue to ripen, and you can end up with a hard, tasteless piece). The stalk will help stop deterioration of the pumpkin, so try not to pick it up by this, and keep it attached if possible!
Hard skin is rot resistant, so don’t be afraid of it. To stop pumpkin from rotting, store it in a cool dry place (the bottom of the pantry is ideal), and make sure it isn’t touching another pumpkin (he’s a lone wolf, you see).
Right, we’re not going to tell you when a banana is ripe – only you can truly know this for yourself – and with a green tinged lover as a father and a mother who yearns for yellow fingers streaked with brown before she’ll even touch one, I’m not about to get into this with you.
Suffice it to say, bananas just keep getting riper and riper no matter what you do with them. To speed up this process, keep your bunch out of the fridge – putting them in a paper bag will speed this up even more.
If you’re worried about your narnies going too far down the brown brick road, wrapping a little alfoil around their stems will halt the process, as will separating them from each other, and keeping them in the fridge. Bananas release a gas that causes them to continue ripening, and helps other fruits and veggies to ripen as well. If you have slightly anaemic tomatoes off the vine, toss them in a fruitbowl with a narnie and watch them blush!
Speaking of narnies – there really is nothing that beats a banana in a paper bag for ripening up avos. Leaving them in the bag overnight will result in perfect creamy avos ready for your morning toast.
To pick the perfect avocado, hold it gently but firmly in one hand. The skin should yield slightly, but shouldn’t start moving around or become disfigured when you hold it. The nub at the top of the fruit will also easily fall off if it’s reached perfect ripeness.
Remember; once cut, an avocado stops ripening, so be patient! To store half an avocado, rub the exposed skin with lemon juice and wrap in clingwrap to prevent oxidisation.
Pineapple and Melons
When selecting pineapples and melons, it’s all about the nose. Get your schnoz in there (no, not there, that’s the spiky bit) and sniff around for that sweet pineapple scent. If you can smell this, the sugar inside the fruit has developed and it will be ripe, ready and delicious.
Once picked, pineapples don’t continue to ripen, so don’t bother if it doesn’t smell right. Melons can sit out on a bench until they develop further and start to smell floral and delicious.
When buying corn in its husk, the outer green layers should be free of any brown holes (these could be from worms), and the kernels should feel plump and firm. The ‘tassels’ at the top of the ear of corn should be brown and sticky (black and dry means the corn is too old).
There are lots of different types of mangoes, so don’t go by colour alone. Mangos stand up to the sniff test; especially at the stem end they should have a sweet aroma. They should also yield a little to the touch.
And there you have it! Don’t forget to let us know any handy tips for picking fruit and veg you might have yourself. Happy Cooking!