Picking fruit at the supermarket can be a bit like a low-stakes version of navigating a minefield. Any fruit you pick could be the “mine” in that it looks great on the surface, but it either rots right away or tastes like trash. But is there really nothing you can do to avoid throwing money away on fruit that spoils before you eat it?
Luckily, a collection of farmers have compiled their thoughts on selecting the best fruit at the supermarket. Armed with these 20 simple tips, you can easily make sure you buy the freshest fruit available—and get the most out of your shopping money!
1. First, let’s look at cantaloupes. Check the rind of the melon by giving the outside a good squeeze: When picking out cantaloupes, there are a few non-negotiables if you want to get the good stuff. Give it a squeeze. Are there soft spots? Cracks? Mold? If so, grab another. If not…
Turtle Bend Farm
2. Give the melon’s base a firm press with your thumb: You want a little bit of give, but not too much. If it’s squishy, that thing’s been ripe for a while and it might be close to rotting. Now what?
Nick Dudley / YouTube
3. Feel the weight of the melon: A general rule to follow is that the heavier the melon, the better it’ll taste. If you have to choose between two non-mushy cantaloupes, choose the heavier of the two. Next, prepare your forefinger…
4. Flick—or knock on—the hard rind of that cantaloupe: Does it sound hollow, like nothing’s going on inside that tough shell? That’s a good sign. You’re one step closer to the perfect melon. There’s still some work to do, though…
5. Smell it: Its time to get up close and personal with the cantaloupe you’ve selected, meaning you’ve gotta give it a sniff. Yup, just bring the melon up to your nose and give it a big ol’ whiff. If it smells sweet, it’s good to eat! Finally, there’s one last test…
YourProduceGuy / YouTube
6. Take a look at its skin color: This test only applies if you’re buying slices of pre-cut cantaloupe. The inside meat of the fruit should be a soft orange and the rind should be beige. If the melon passes all these tests, it should be perfect! Now that you’ve got your cantaloupes covered, what about other fruit?
7. Buying pineapples, for instance, requires similar scrutiny. First, look at the color: It might be tempting to buy a green pineapple, but a gold one—even with brown leaves—will actually last longer.
YourProduceGuy / YouTube
8. The riper the pineapple, the easier it is to pull leaves out of the top: Use this knowledge to your advantage. Tug on a leaf, and if it just sort of falls out, the fruit’s probably too ripe to eat.
Chef Buck / YouTube
9. Just as you did with the cantaloupe, you should squeeze or poke pineapple, too: Does it give just a little? That’s a good fruit. Too firm or too soft means you should toss it back in the pineapple patch. Lastly…
Howcast / YouTube
10. It’s sniff test time: Turn that pineapple upside down and bring the fruit’s bottom end to your nose. Inhale deeply. How does it smell? Sweet? That’s a good pineapple. Toss it in your cart and move on to the next fruit…
Grocery School / YouTube
11. Look at the spots: Nothing says summertime like a fat, juicy watermelon, and you can pick the right one by looking at field spots. These spots show what part of the melon rested on the ground at the ol’ farm. Look for a melon with a creamy yellow field spot…
12. Examine the “webbing” pattern on the watermelon: When a bee pollinates a watermelon plant, a brown webbing forms as a sort of scar. More webbing on the melon’s skin means the fruit saw more pollination, making it sweeter.
13. Not a fan of sweeter melons? Check out the height of the melon: Male watermelons are normally taller and more watery. Female watermelons are shorter, rounder, and sweeter. Other observations about the size and shape can help with watermelon-hunting, too!
14. Look for medium melons: It might be tempting to by the biggest, fattest, or tallest watermelon in a pile, but avoid them and the smallest water melons, too. What you want is the most medium-sized melon. Imagine that you’re Goldilocks, but instead of tasting porridge, you’re dealing with melon size.
15. Find a melon with a dried-up and withered stem: Look at the watermelon’s tail—that little twisty stem on top of it. If the stem is green, someone picked the fruit a little too soon, but if it’s dried-up, that’s a sign of the good stuff! Now you’re ready to get the 411 on another fruit!
16. Trust your eyes: For berries, you have to really indulge your amateur detective skills. As most berries are sold in sealed tubs, you have to trust your eyes. With strawberries, you want plump, fully red berries. Avoid wrinkled or bruised ones.
17. Once you’re the proud owner of these berries, don’t remove their little green caps until you’re eating them: That’ll give them a longer life span. If a berry does start to mold, toss it right away before spreading occurs.
Molly Watson / The Spruce
18. For blueberries, choose ones that are plump and, obviously, blue: Once these tasty treats are picked, they don’t keep ripening, so avoid falling into the trap of buying slightly discolored berries thinking they’ll grow up into bright blue beauties. You get what you see.
Grocery School / YouTube
19. The best advice for picking out raspberries is to not overthink it: You want bright fat ones that aren’t seriously bruised or dented. That’s it. You don’t even have to smell these like you do for other fruits (but you can if you want).
20. Search for blackberries that are either deep purple, deep blue, or black: Blackberries give you a little more to look out for when it comes to picking the perfect bunch. If you can get a finger in the packaging, see that they’re firm, too.
With these tips, you’ll be picking the right fruit every time you hit the produce section. What fruit-picking tips do you live by?
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