How to Select Ripe Fruit

By: Sarah Gleim  | 
Fresh fruit
Fruit is available at the market year round, but how do you know if it's ripe? Adisa/Shutterstock

Getting enough fresh fruit in your daily diet is important to a healthy eating routine. People who eat fruit (and vegetables) as part of an overall healthy diet have a lower risk for certain diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, and they have zero cholesterol. Some fruits also are loaded with vitamins C and A, as well as folate, potassium and dietary fiber.

But the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans found that 80 percent of Americans don't eat enough fruit. The guidelines recommend that people include 2 cups of fruit daily, though most Americans fall far short of that.


It's pretty simple to add a few cups of fruit to your daily diet. For example, just one banana is the equivalent of 1 cup of fruit. Of course fruit really only tastes good when it's ripe, so how do you pick the ripest, whether you're buying from your local farmers market or your big box store?

Tips on Selecting Fruit

  • Purchase fruits in season. You'll get the best flavor and nutrition when you buy seasonal fruits. You'll also get the best value.
  • Only buy what you can eat. Purchase what you have room to store and can eat while it's fresh and ripe.
  • Keep your selections simple. Whole fruit will cost less (and last longer) than precut and ready-to-eat fruit.
  • Buy local. This isn't always possible, but when you can, buy directly where your food is grown, when it's at its peak quality. You'll also be supporting local growers.


Signs a Fruit Is Ripe

  • Apples: Choose heavy apples that are firm to the touch. The peel should be naturally shiny without any bruising.
  • Avocados: Ripe avocados will have dark skin and will yield to firm, but gentle pressure when squeezed. You can purchase green avocados and allow them to ripen at home.
  • Berries: Berries, including strawberries, blackberries and blueberries should be firm, dry and fragrant. Avoid crushed berries or any with signs of mold.
  • Bananas: Evenly yellow bananas are ripe, though they taste best just when the first spots of brown appear. Select greener bananas if you want them to continue to ripen for a few days.
  • Melons: Watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe should be symmetrical, sweet-smelling and heavy. Look for a watermelon with a dull rind, as a shiny appearance could mean it's not ripe. It also should sound hollow if you thump it. Honeydew melon should be pale to light yellow, not green.
  • Pears: Pears are usually picked before they are fully ripe, so choose fruit with no signs of bruising or soft spots.
  • Peaches: Pick only deep colored peaches that are firm but yield to a gentle squeeze. They should be fragrant and without bruising or wrinkled skin.
  • Pineapples: A ripe pineapple should have a sweet smell, especially near the stem and fresh leaves. Make sure the rind doesn't have any dark spots.
  • Plums: Ripe plums have a deep color and will give a little when squeezed. If they're a bit hard they will ripen at home, though very hard plums may not.
  • Pomegranates: These should be heavy, and signs of cracking is good. It indicates the fruit is full of plump seeds.
Ripe watermelon should have a dull rind with an obvious yellow side. If it's missing the yellow spot, that could be a sign it didn't ripen enough before it was picked.
Paulose NK/Shutterstock


How to Store Fresh Fruit

Storing your fresh fruit properly after you bring it home is important to making it last. While most have a shelf life of just a few days, you can extend that with proper storage.

Some fruit must be refrigerated while others must be stored at room temperature. For instance, you never want to refrigerate bananas, citrus, mangoes, melons, pineapples, peaches or pomegranates unless the fruit is cut. The cold could damage the fruits or keep them from ripening. Avocadoes and peaches can ripen in a fruit bag or paper bag at room temperature.


Berries, cherries, figs and grapes should all be stored in the refrigerator. Pears and plums also can be ripened in a paper bag at room temperature, but should be refrigerated as soon as they're ripe. And any cut fruit also should be stored in refrigerator and used within one to three days.