Harvesting produce can be a tricky thing. Did you know that most fruit ripen after being picked? Fun fact - avocados only ripen off the vine! That’s why our farmers harvest at a point where their fruit is just mature enough to eat, yet not mature enough to spoil before it gets to you.
Time really is the tricky variable here. So many factors like heat, moisture, and even the presence of other fruit, can play a huge role along the way to affect how quickly fruit takes to finish ripening. So what happens if your mango or tomato are still hard when you get them?
The Paper Bag Method
Great for avocados, mangos, pears, plums and tomatoes!
- What you’ll need: A paper bag, an apple and/or banana
- This classic method is quite simple. Just add your fruit into a paper bag, seal it, and wait a few days! The key here is ethylene. Ethylene is a natural gas given off by fruit that helps in ripening. To speed things up even faster, we recommend adding in an apple or banana! These fruits give off more ethylene than other fruits and will really aid in moving the ripening process along!
- Careful, though! If you store already ripe fruits next to apples or bananas, it will cause them to go bad quicker.
The Flour in a Bag Method Perfect for avocados!
- What you’ll need: A paper bag, flour (enough to cover the avocado).
- For this trick, just place your avocado in a paper bag, cover it with flour, and seal it! The flour helps concentrate the ethylene gas released by the avocado, and also soaks up residual moisture. This keeps it free from mold and bruising as the fruit ripens.
The Rice in a Bowl Method
Perfect for mangos!
- What you’ll need: A large bowl, rice - just enough to cover the mango.
- This method originated in India, where you hide unripe mangos in uncooked rice to speed up the ripening process. This involves the same principle as the paper bag method: trapping ethylene. All you have to do is place your mango in a bowl with rice, making sure the mango is completely covered. Be careful though. This trick can be so effective that you can over ripen the mango, so make sure to check on it every 6 to 12 hours.
The Linen Cloth Method
Perfect for peaches!
- What you’ll need: Two clean linen napkins or cotton tea towels. Tip: You want something breathable so moisture doesn’t build, so stay away from terry cloth.
- Peaches have delicate skin, so you want to keep them from touching when setting them out to ripe. That’s why stuffing them into a paper bag isn’t the way to go. First, lay down a clean linen napkin or cotton tea towel in a dry area, making sure to flatten it. Place your peaches stem-side down, again making sure they don’t touch. Then just cover your peaches with the second napkin or tea towel, tucking in the sides if possible to close off fresh air. You’ll know your peaches are ripe in a few days when you notice that strong, fragrant peachy smell!
What if your fruit doesn’t ripen?
Sometimes despite these methods, your fruit may still not ripen. We do our best to only send out produce that we’re confident is on it’s way to ripeness, but sometimes immature pieces may get through. This can especially happen when farmers give us everything the have after an unexpected surplus. But all is not lost!
When you have unripe fruit, you can still save it by cooking! Cooking won’t magically ripen fruit, but it does three important things to make the fruit better for eating:
- It brings out the fruit’s sweet and sour flavor
- It decreases bitterness and astringency
- It softens the fruit so it’s easier to chew
One great way to cook fruit is by poaching! This is simply covering your fruit with liquid and and simmering until the fruit is soft. Fruits with seeds at the core (like apples, pears, and plums) are the best for poaching, but really any fruit can be poached. That even includes mango and pineapple! Check out this awesome article from Food52 to learn more about poaching fruit!
We hope this helps with ripening fruit! What other techniques have you tried?