We’ve all been victim to a mushy banana, rock-hard mango or tasteless melon at one point or another… but there are a few simple signs that can tell you when fruit is at its best. And once you know what to look for, you’ll be able to pick perfectly ripe fruit every time, and cut down on what you throw away. Win-win!
Here are our top tips:
You’ll smell a ripe peach before you see it – their skin is beautifully fragrant. The skin of a ripe peach should be firm but give a little when squeezed gently. And if it’s hard, then it’s probably not quite there. Use your ripe fruit in a classic peach Bellini for a weekend celebration, or pack them into a warming peach cobbler for a little summertime comfort food.
When they’re ripe, strawberries are hard to beat! Ripe berries will be firm, vibrant and shiny – avoid any fruits that are soft or mushy as this is a good sign they’re past their best. For a more intense flavour, opt for the small- to medium-sized strawberries, as the larger ones tend to have a higher water content. If you think your strawberries might be on their way out, whack them in the freezer to keep them fresh and chuck them into smoothies or juices as and when you need them.
Bananas are one of the easiest fruits to test when it comes to ripeness. A ripe banana will be yellow all over and speckled with a few darker spots here and there. It will smell slightly sweet, and the fruit should hold its shape when you peel it. It will still be a little firm when you bite into it – if it’s mushy at all then it’s gone too far. However, this is when bananas are perfect for baking. If you’re left with a bunch that’s a little too ripe, why not whip-up a batch of Cupcake Jemma’s gorgeous muffins?
When you’re shopping for mangos there are a few things that can help you choose a good one. The stem of the mango (at the top) should smell particularly sweet and fruity. Give it a squeeze – if you can gently press your finger into the mango and it gives a little, then you know you’re in for a treat! A ripe mango will feel slightly heavier than it appears, too – so if you’re torn between two mangos that look a similar ripeness, always opt for the heavier one. For a simple and flavoursome treat, enjoy mango the classic Jamie way – served with just a squeeze of lime juice.
| More: How to prepare a mango
You can spot a perfectly ripe melon in the same way you would a mango – it should feel heavier than it looks, and have a slightly sweet aroma. Press gently on the end furthest from the stem – this should be slightly soft. Another way to tell if melons are ripe is to give them a tap: if they make a hollow, drum-like sound, they’re ready.