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Published on June 16, 2017

variety of berries

How to Get the Best Fruits from Your Store

You hear it every day: eat more fruit! It’s good for you and perfect for summer.

But if you’re new to fruit or you have two or three kinds you always get, sometimes your knowledge about how to pick the best, ripest choices might need some sharpening.

That’s why we asked Marion Road Hy-Vee’s Registered Dietitian Anna Schroeder for her insights on all things sweet, fresh and in the produce aisle.

  • Avocados: Choosing that perfect avocado can be tricky. Because avocados will only ripen after they are picked, you can tell if an avocado is ripe by its color and firmness. If the avocado you’re looking at is bright green and hard, it won't be ready to eat for several days. A ripe avocado will be slightly soft and have a dark green skin, but it shouldn't be too soft. If push your finger into the skin and feel a "space" between the skin and flesh, it’s past its prime. If you can't find a ripe avocado at the store, you can always speed up the ripening process by placing one in a brown paper bag. Doing so can help trap the natural ethylene gas that causes many fruits to ripen. Add an apple or banana with the avocado inside the bag to speed things up and get it ripe.
  • Berries: Mold is the biggest issue with berries, particularly delicate ones like raspberries and blackberries. Pick up the pint and check for any wet spots on the bottom, and try to gently shake the berries around to see if there's any hidden mold or broken berries. Mold spreads quickly once it’s in the package, particularly plastic ones. You can often detect bad berries by smell, even inside the package. The scent should not be too “strong” and it’s best to buy berries in-season, they’ll have better flavor and cost significantly less.
  • Citrus: A good rule of thumb for oranges, grapefruit, lemons – all citrus really – is that most varieties will not ripen after they are picked. It’s best to buy citrus that is ripe but not rotting, so you can look for a firm fruit with vibrant colors. Avoid anything that is bruised, wrinkled or lacking in color.
  • Melons: Choose a supermarket cantaloupe by holding it close and smelling the melon. The cantaloupe should have a distinctive fresh, melon odor. Give the cantaloupe a gentle push with the thumb on the blossom end of the melon; it should yield slightly. Doing this can help you determine just how long the melon has been sitting or stored.
  • Watermelon: Big or small, the watermelon should feel heavy for its size. Look for the yellow spot where it rested on the ground. When this splotch is creamy yellow, it's ripe. Give it a good thump, too, by tapping the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a deep hollow sound. Under-ripe or over-ripe melons will sound dull.
  • Pears: Like bananas, pears are actually better if they have brown spots on them. You don't want them to fall apart in your hands, but they should be relatively soft and aromatic.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes have two simple fresh indicators: color and texture. Avoid pale tomatoes and any tomato that has been damaged. Once the skin is broken, they will break down much more quickly. For the most part, a tomato is ripe when it is soft enough to squeeze without breaking the skin.

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