Fruit can be a sweet and delicious addition to any paleo diet. Fruit is the seed-bearing part of a plant, and can be eaten raw, in addition to being cooked in various ways. When selecting fruit, there are a few indicators of ripeness and quality.
Color- Depending on the type of fruit, color can be a good indicator of ripeness, but you shouldn’t rely solely on the color of a fruit during the selection process. As the acidity level of a fruit changes during the ripening process, the green chlorophyll will generally break down, and reveal the brighter colors that were previously hidden by the green chlorophyll. This means that as a fruit ripens, the color generally becomes brighter. For example, as berries ripen, they will generally become a deeper red color.
Smell- The aroma is a great indicator of how a fruit will taste. Melons are an example of a fruit whose aroma, and not color, will best indicate ripeness. Chemical changes take place in the ripening process, which will allow for the release of sweet smells. When checking for ripeness via smell, sniff the end of the fruit that is opposite the stem. Select fruits that display a full, fruity smell.
Texture- As fruits ripen, the substances that hold them together will generally break down, which makes them feel softer to the touch. To test this, simply squeeze the fruit, and choose those that feel tender to the touch.
Weight- Fruit should be heavy relative to its size, if it is ripe. Fruit that is heavy relative to its size is generally fully mature.
A Few More Fruit Tips:
- When selecting berries, it’s important to make sure there is no mold present on any of the berries, because mold spreads quickly between berries. Another tip to keep in mind when selecting berries is to avoid those that are oozing.
- Melons that have stems attached at the time of purchase may mean the melon is not fully ripe.
- Fruit that has soft spots or bruising generally means it is damaged, and should not be selected.
If you do purchase fruit that isn’t fully ripened, it is possible to speed-up the ripening process. In order to speed-ripen fruit, follow these steps:
- Place the fruit in a warm area, such as a window that receives a lot of sunlight
- After warming the fruit, place it in a paper bag with ripe apples, and close the bag
This method of ripening fruit works because ripe apples produce ethylene gas, which helps speed up the ripening process. When the fruit you’d like to ripen is placed in a paper bag that is loosely closed, it receives the ethylene gas from the apples, as well as oxygen, thus ripening the fruit. It’s also good to remember that refrigerating fruit will generally slow the ripening process.