Taking The Guesswork Out Of Choosing Fresh Fruit!

How To Pick Fruit

I am very intimidated…bordering on paranoid…when it comes to picking out fresh fruit at the market! I’m convinced that everyone around me in the produce section knows something I don’t! Apparently “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” because it turns out my daughter felt that same way! That’s why she wanted to do this post on tips for picking out fresh fruit. Take it away Britta….I AM ALL EARS ON THIS ONE!

Britta writes……..

Shopping for fruit can be a pretty mystifying experience. I will often find myself peering into a bin of some fruit or another, wondering which one I might choose. Sometimes I look around to see what tactics the other shoppers are using to choose their fruits. I might see some tapping, some squeezing, some smelling… and I wonder which, if any, of these methods are actually useful. Luckily, I happen to have an insider source for all things grocery, and he graciously agreed to share his tips for choosing the best fruit!

 

Neil and Tyson 2

Meet Tyson Day. He and my husband have been close friends since they were born (more or less), and he was Best Man at our wedding last August. His family owns a chain of local grocery stores that he has been working in since childhood. He has worked nearly every position possible over the years, but the produce section is a personal favorite of his. To put it simply, this guy knows fruit! And luckily he has agreed to share some of his expert tips with us!

 

How To Pick Fruit

Apples

The first step to picking the perfect apple is to know which variety of apple you want! I know very little about apple varieties, so Tyson kindly outlined the most popular varieties of apples for me.

  • Red delicious are a sweet, soft variety that are good for baking and making applesauce.
  • Golden delicious have a mellow flavor and a subtle sweetness. If you’re selecting a golden delicious, try squeezing the skin. If the skin wrinkles when you squeeze it, Tyson says it’s no good.
  • Gala is a good all-around apple, providing the best bang for your buck in terms of flavor and crispness. It has a flavor somewhere in between sweet and tart.
  • Fuji is sweetest popular apple variety. It’s very kid friendly, and good for packed lunches!
  • Granny Smith are really tart, and very crisp. They are traditionally used for pies because they don’t break down in the baking process like other varieties.
  • Honeycrisp are “the King of apples,” according to Tyson. They are extremely sweet and tangy, and super crisp. They are also one of the largest varieties of apples.
  • Cripps Pink apples, also known as “Pink Lady,” are tangier than most apples, but really delicious. Think the sweetness of a Fuji and the tanginess of a Granny Smith in one apple.

If you have questions, feel free to ask anyone in the produce department! Tyson says that the people who work produce are very knowledgeable about the products they sell and would be happy to answer your questions.

 

How To Pick Fruit

Melons

When choosing a melon, Tyson says that the “ugly melons” generally taste better than the pristine ones. So don’t be afraid of brown spots or scarring! Another good tip for melons with tough skins like honeydew and cantaloupe is to smell the rind. If a cantaloupe smells like cantaloupe, it’s ripe!

For watermelons, Tyson suggests holding the melon in one hand and tapping it lightly with your other hand. If you can feel the reverberation in the hand holding the melon, that’s a good sign. He says this signifies the “sweet spot” between getting a melon that is not ripe enough, and one that is overly ripe and mushy inside.

 

How To Pick Fruit

Citrus

For most varieties of citrus, like oranges and grapefruits, you want to choose one that is heavier than it looks. If the fruit is heavy, it has a higher water content, which means it will be juicy!

 

How To Pick Fruit

Berries

Choosing berries is very much dependent on personal taste. If you like really sweet berries, look for ones that are vivid in color. However, be aware that these will have a shorter shelf life. If you want berries that are going to last a while in your fridge, choose ones that are less vibrant in color, as they will continue to ripen at home.

 

How To Pick Fruit

Pineapples

Tyson’s tip for selecting a pineapple is to try picking out one of the center leaves. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe! You can also smell the outside, making sure that it smells like tasty pineapple.

 

How To Pick Fruit

“The Face Method”

Several fruits, including avocados, mangos, peaches, and kiwis, can be chosen using what Tyson calls the “face method.” Squeeze the fruit lightly. If it feels the same as touching your cheek, it is probably past its prime. If it feels like your forehead, it is not totally ripe yet and will need a day or two on your counter to reach prime ripeness. If it feels like the tip of your nose, it’s perfectly ripe!

 

How To Pick Fruit

In addition to all the great fruit-picking advice, Tyson also shared a few bits of advice about how to be a good produce customer, which I thought were excellent and wanted to pass them on.

1. You don’t have to touch ALL the fruit to pick a good one. If you know you want to get a peach, go ahead and touch a few of them, but don’t insist on touching all of them! They’re not going to be that different.

2. Just because it doesn’t look perfect, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Fruits and vegetables have natural variations in their appearance due to a variety of factors, and the appearance often says very little about the flavor. So don’t shy away from the ones with brown spots and scars!

 

How To Pick Fruit

If we want to get the most from our fruit-buying budget we need to select the best we can. Hopefully these helpful hints from our friend, and produce expert, Tyson will help us all get the most flavor and nutritional bang for our buck!

 

 


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Comments

  1. Harmonie M. says

    Thanks for the info on the apples. I’m never sure which ones are best for baking.

    I have an app on my phone (it’s called Harvest for ios) that I use for selecting the best fruits & vegetables. It also tells you the best way to store them so they will last longer. Now less ends up spoiling & I get really sweet & juicy fruit.

    • joe says

      I’ve picked over ripe (brown) lemons off a tree in FL at the advice of the owner. You don’t need to add sugar to lemon aid made with them. One day, I will let a store bought lemon go brown at home and see if the same is true.

  2. Susan D says

    I buy a lot of apples and what I do is to make sure each one has a stem attached and the little star thing on the bottom. I’ve heard that if these are not present, then air can get into the apple and dry it out. Also, when buying things like strawberries and peaches, the most important thing for me is the “smell” test. If it doesn’t have a strong fruity smell, then I don’t buy it. A peach should smell like a peach, etc. I try not to buy fruit out of season, and I do try to buy only organic fruit (and vegetables). Also, support your local farmer’s markets!

  3. Janette says

    All this produce touching reminds me just how important it is to wash your fruits and veggies before eating!! Who knows where the person before you has had his hands!! And the sniff test means a bunch of people breathing on fruit just inches away from their faces with their hot steamy breath!! Makes me cringe!!

  4. Gwyn says

    Thank you Britta for such great, concise information. I have to say that while I agree with Susan about buying organic and local being ideal it isn’t always financially feasible for many of us or even possible for some based on location. So I want to thank you Britta for keeping this just what it is, a post on how to choose fruit based in ripeness and in the case of apples types. For me that was refreshing and appreciated. I did check out the app Harmonie mentioned and that looks to be full of information about produce including pesticide levels to help guide people on what to by organic if you can’t buy everything that way as well as much more. But again I so appreciate your post and it’s simpler information, I learned allot. Anyone else notice that Neil and Tyson look like brothers in that photo? I’m going to guess Jillee has considered Tyson family for a long time. ;)

  5. Lauralee says

    Unlike tomatoes, strawberries will NOT continue to ripen after being picked. A ripe strawberry is red all over, with no white tips or tops.

    Thanks for all the tips on apples, melons, etc.!

    • A says

      Did you know that avocados won’t ripen on the trees? They only begin to ripen once they come off. Sometimes, when I go to the store, they only have rock hard avocados. That’s ok if I buy them a week in advance, but if I want them within the next few days I put them in a brown bag for a couple days. To ripen even faster, include a banana in the bag. Bananas give off a certain gas that when contained, will ripen other fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, if you have ripe produce that you would like to lengthen shelf life, make sure to keep them away from bananas!

  6. Grannie_4_7 says

    Very informative blog, Britta. Thank you.

    All of the tips are helpful, but the tips on apples are the most helpful for me at this time. Apples and young grandchildren just seem to go together. LOL!

  7. Joan says

    In Canada, we get avocados that have traveled to get to us and are sometimes quite hard. If the price is good, I buy them hard and, when I get home, I put a couple with my apples and within 2 days they are ready to eat. I do the rotation from fridge to apple bowl and have avocados ready when needed.

  8. Sharon H says

    Well done article, Britta, but I have to take exception with Tyson’s description of the Red Delicious Apple. That one is best eaten fresh, or in salads. It does not hold up well in any kind of cooking or freezing. Not that you can’t use it for that….but almost any other apple will give much better results. And Granny Smith’s are great eaten fresh, if you prefer a more firm and less sweet apple, yet are wonderful in cooked or baked recipes. If you’re really serious about apple varieties and the best uses for them, google it. The Washington Apple Board lists them. Same with other fruits….they will all have their own places where you can learn about them. And in this day and age, we must be good, knowledgeable consumers to get the most bang for our bucks!

    • silverdust says

      I remember a Martha Stewart episode where she raved about Golden Delicious for applesauce because they provide a buttery, spicy flavor.

      For those who prefer some “zing” in their applesauce, Granny Smith’s are the best! Just be sure to cut in smaller pieces or slivers because they’ll take a little longer to break down.

      And if you’re looking to get rid of older, starting-to-wrinkle apples, throw them all in for applesauce. The flavor is light years better than store bought.

  9. says

    I have only picked one pineapple that was not ripe after using the following method: select a pineapple that has similar sized “eyes” (the square-ish/roundish markings) the whole way up the pineapple :-)

  10. CTY says

    Can you ask Tyson his thoughts on the marked down-gotta go-clearance fruits? I see them in the store from time to time but never bought.
    I feel a vegetable post in our future! Please hurry.

  11. Wendy G says

    Aha! Cripps Pink are the same as Pink Lady apples – they are my hubby’s new favorite, and this will make them easier to find in stores!

    Thank you for this wealth of knowledge!

  12. christy m says

    Great article . One thing nit mentioned, having worked in a
    Grocery store we always try to check the strawberries for mold.
    You always want to catch stuff like this before it leaves the store.

  13. Gail D. says

    RE fruits with pits: Make sure there is no green color at the blossom end–such fruit will never ripen. If there’s no green but the fruit is hard, put it on a brown paper bag to ripen. It will be delicious!

  14. Diana says

    I never miss the mark when buying a cantaloupe. Just give the end when the stem was attached a gentle push…if it seems hard, its’ under ripe. The softer it is, the more ripe it is.

  15. Ann says

    I’m a little behind on emails, can you tell? lol I consider myself an expert on picking out lemons. :) Always try to softly squeeze them. If they squeeze easily and feel heavy and look smooth on the outside, they’re most likely thin skinned and full of juice. Depends on where you buy them of course since some stores don’t carry a very good quality of fruit (in my area anyway). My very favorite apple is the Braeburn but they’re getting harder to find and I usually will forgo them if the store has some kind of organic apples. Thankfully our farmer’s market opens next month so I’ll be going there weekly for fresh, local grown produce. :)

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