For the best-tasting produce, you want to start with fruits that are in season and use the right tools to prepare them to bring out their sweetness. This handy guide of produce that peaks in spring and early summer will show you how to ripen them in your kitchen for the juiciest flavor.
Avocados: If you have a difficult relationship with avocados, you’re not alone. It’s tough to tell if the fruit is ripe. Too often, you cut into it only to find the flesh is either hard as a rock or mushy past its prime. So how do you determine when this fruit is at its peak ripeness? Here’s a trick: Go by what’s under the stubby stem. If you pull it off and the skin is brown, that’s no good. On the other hand, if the stem refuses to come off easily and it’s white underneath, the fruit is not yet ripe. But a stem that pops off with minimal effort and exposes bright green flesh? That’s your sign to cut it with an avocado slicer and serve it up. We have even more avocado advice here.
Apricots: Ripe apricots should be a deep golden orange, firm with just a tiny amount of give when you gently squeeze them.
Blueberries: Ripe blueberries will be firm and plump, with a smooth skin that has a silvery sheen. The color is more important than the size; look for berries that are a deep purply blue to a blue-black. If the color is pale or greenish, wait a few more days. If the skin is wrinkly, they’re past their prime.
Cantaloupe: You’ll want to look for a few different things to determine if a cantaloupe is ripe. To start, the skin should have a raised netting on it. The stem end should give slightly when you press it, and it should smell a little sweet and musky. The fruit should also be heavy, indicating more juice.
Cherries: First, look at the stem—it should be green, not brown. For cherries without stems, they should be plump and firm with a shiny dark red skin. Lighter colors generally mean the fruit is not yet ripe.
Lemons: Pick a bright yellow one with glossiness to its skin. The exterior should be textured, but not wrinkled. Look for one about three inches in size and give it a squeeze. If it’s soft but not squishy, it’s ready.
Mangoes: Similar to avocados, a ripe mango will give slightly under gentle pressure. It also may smell slightly fruity at the stem. To prepare it for eating, save yourself the slippery mess and risk of injury with a knife by using a mango splitter to remove the seed and cut the fruit in half in one step.
Peaches: It’s all about the stem when determining if a peach is ripe. Look where the stem would have been; the color should be a golden yellow, it should smell like a peach, and it should feel slightly soft. Avoid any peaches that have a wrinkly skin—they’ve already started to dry out.
Pineapples: To make sure your pineapple is ripe, check these three things: Color (the riper the fruit, the yellower the skin), feel (it should be slightly soft), and smell (the base should smell like fruit). If it smells a bit more like vinegar than sweet, that pineapple is past its prime.
Strawberries: When buying strawberries, look for containers that have full, plump berries. They should be evenly red with no white or green on the tips. Truly ripe strawberries should look as luscious as you want them to taste.
Watermelon: Pick the fruit up. If your watermelon feels heavy for its size, that’s a good thing: It means it’s juicy. Now give it a solid tap. When the fruit is ripe, it will sound hollow, like a drum, inside.
Now that you know how to tell when seasonal fruits are ripe, don’t let the bounty go to waste. Store uneaten fruit halves in reusable containers that seal in freshness.