Cheat Sheet: Your Guide for Picking the Perfect Fruit Every Time

If you’ve ever picked a bad apple, then you’ll know the fruit disappointment is real. Sometimes the shiniest, brightest, waxiest apple in the pack, can be rotten the core inside. Other times you can pick the dullest apple, only to take a big bite and be overwhelmed by its deliciousness.

So the question remains, is fruit picking random? Or is there a secret art to picking the best fruit in the pack? We all know what happens when fruit goes bad, so you’ll be glad to know that we’ve brushed up on our fruit picking research, to find some seasoned tricks.

Although we’re often told not to judge by appearance, you really can judge an orange by its cover. Evidently, there are a few elements to watch out for, and this is usually specific to each fruit. These can include the skin color and texture, any discolorations, bruising or spots and picking the ripest fruit at the right season every time. So check out this savvy guide to the delectable world of sweet fruit picking.

Bananas

While some colorful berries and fruits are seasonal and can hit their peak at particular times of the year, this isn’t the case for bananas. You can actually go bananas and pick them any time of the year and expect to be greeted by a tasty, creamy bite. Still, they do have some tricks up their sleeves.

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Visually speaking, the best ready-to-eat bananas should be a vibrant yellow color, with a full, plump and firm texture. If the bananas have a small green tip at each end, they should ripen in a couple of days. The ones to avoid are those with deep brown spots, broken stems, splits or those with a dull grey color, as they won’t taste as fresh, ripe or juicy.

Cantaloupe

Interestingly, the best way to pick the perfect cantaloupe is not just by its handsome golden or creamy color appearance, but by its smell. The best cantaloupes should offer a slightly sweet and musky scent. What’s more, the ripest ones should also feel heavier than they look.

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Another top tip is to press your thumb on the bottom and feel the stem. If it’s soft, then it should be ripe to eat. If it’s not ready yet, then you can also leave the fruit in a closed paper bag at room temperature for two days. Then it should be riper and ready to slice.

Cherries

Life is sweeter with a cherry on top. So to ensure you cherry-pick the sweetest fruits in the bunch, here are some top tips. First, choose the most colorful, good-looking, shiny cherries, which should range from deep bright red to mahogany.

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Then make sure you take the time to feel the cherries, as the sweetest ones should be plump but not firm, with no bruising, squishy feeling or bruising. You can also check to see if the cherries are fresher, with a longer shelf-life by checking out their stems to see if they are long and green instead of brown.

Clementines

It might be tempting to pick the larger clementines in the bunch, as these should offer more orangey goodness. Nonetheless, it might surprise you that the smaller ones with a strong fragrance, will be juicier and bursting with rich flavor.

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With clementines, you can also feel free to judge them by their appearance. The ripest, ready-to-eat ones should offer a shiny, brighter orange color. You can also feel the skin as your about to peel, as the best ones will have a firm but softer skin. If the skin is too tight, then you’ll have to wait for it to ripen into a grown fruit. You should also avoid the rough, hard or squishy ones.

Figs

While you might think all figs look the same, some figs are tastier than others. That’s because you have to be a little picky with them. The best figs offer the perfect combination of smooth, soft, dry skin. When you hold it, it should feel plump and firm, with the stems still attached, but not too hard and ripe.

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With figs, striking the perfect balance is essential. If the figs are too dried out or have open, cracked skin, then they aren’t going to be the most delicious snacks. The same applies if they are wet, broken, bruised, dirty or mushy. Wow, there should be a fig tour guide in fruit shops!

Grapes

With grapes, the most colorful and rich berry clusters are usually the sweetest. So if you prefer red grapes, then most of the berries should be a rich red color. If you naturally fall for the green kind, then the sweetest ones are yellow-green. If black grapes are more of your thing, then the most flavorful ones will offer a rich, dark color.

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If you choose the ripest grapes, you can look forward to a deliciously addictive sweet treat, bursting with flavor. So, the ripest grapes should look plump, firm, heavy and be firmly attached to green, flexible stems. Try to avoid any grapes with a mushy texture, brown spots or bruises, as these won’t be too tasty.

Kiwis

Don’t be fooled by their prickly outer shells, kiwis are actually one of the sweetest and juiciest fruits around, and are packed with vitamin C. So if you’re buying golden or green kiwis, and make sure they offer the perfect level of firmness.

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With kiwis, it’s important to feel them before you take a bite. The perfect fruits should be plump but not too firm, so you can still squeeze them a little. You should also check that they’re not too hard, as they will have a tart, astringent taste. The best kiwis and not too mushy either and they’ll also ooze a strong, and fragrant, fresh smell.

Kumquats

Kumquats are quite an exotic, tiny orange fruit that’s traditionally grown in China. Now they are more widely available in the US, and if you come across these exotic treats, you’ll find there are a few varieties. Still, when it comes to choosing the perfect kumquats, color is also key.

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The ripest and most flavorsome kumquats can range from a deep, bright orange shade to a yellowish shade of orange. You should avoid the ones which are greenish, as these are still ripening and the oblong ones will be less sweet. Another top tip is if you feel the skin, it should also be firm and round, with no shriveled parts, soft spots or blemishes.

Peaches

If you pick the right peach, then you’ll be rewarded with a deliciously refreshing, rich and sweet summer fruit. So to ensure you pick the most ripened, and ready to taste one from the store, then you should start by squeezing.

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Most fruit experts will tell you that peaches actually taste sweeter as they ripen. So if you squeeze it, the sweet ones should be firm with a little bit of give. If they are too soft and mushy or too hard, green, or bruised then you might be disappointed. You should also look for one with a deep, vibrant and rich peach color, and a strong, distinctive fragrance.

Pears

Just like with most fruits, you can tell if a pear is fresh and ready to eat, just by its appearance and touch. If you want to choose a ripened pear to eat immediately, then you can tell everything by gently pressing your finger on the top of the pear, around the stem.

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If the pear feels firm, with a little bit of give, then you’re ready to go. On the flipside, if it feels too soft, then it’s a no-go as the pear will be overripe and mushy. If it’s too firm, then you can always store it in a paper bag to ripen it more. Like other fruits, you should also steer clear of pears with blemishes or bruises.

Mandarins

Just like most members of the orange family, the sweetest and ready-to-eat mandarins should be a rich bright orange color. If you feel the fruit, it should be heavy, and the skin should be just the right level of firmness, so you can peel it easily.

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If you’re searching in the store, then you should avoid the ones with overly tight skin, as these won’t be ripened yet. As with most fruity treats, you should also watch out for blemishes or spots on the surface, and the wet, squashy or mushy ones are a big no-no.

Pineapples

If you pick the right pineapple, you’ll be rewarded with a rich, sweet and fruity tropical treat. The taste and fragrant sweet smell are enough to make you crave a vacation. However, pineapple picking can also go very bad, so you should choose the ones which look heavy, with fresh green leaves and a sweet-smelling stem.

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If you want to avoid any pineapple disappointment, then you should steer clear of the ones which look bad on the surface, with dry or brown leaves, soft spots or bruises. On the other side, if the surface texture is too rigid, then you’ll have to wait for it to ripen before you slice it.

Mangoes

Just like avocados and peaches, mangos will soften as they ripen. So to ensure you pick the right one with just the right balance of ripeness and sweetness, you should squeeze it gently. The best ones will be firm and heavy, but soft to touch, which means the flesh will be soft inside.

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You can also tell their ripeness from the strong and distinctively fresh fragrance at the end of the stem. Again, as with most fruits, you should avoid the mangoes with are too mushy and overripe, or too hard, as these will be un-ripened and leave a bitter aftertaste.

Plums

If you love plums, then there’s a special art to picking the perfect, ready-to-eat ones too. One of the tried-and-tested ways to choose the ripest and juiciest plum is to hold on in the palm of your hand. While it should feel heavy, plump and firm, there should also be a little give.

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Plums often come in numerous shades, so whether you choose red, purple, yellow, white or grey ash varieties, the best plums offer a deep color, and shiny, waxy texture. The ones to avoid are the mushy ones which are over-ripe and the rock-hard plums which need some more time in the fruit bowl before you try them.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates may look like oddly shaped red apples, but these super-fruits are cleverly concealing a rich medley of sweet and juicy seeds. So since you can’t feel the seeds from the hard outer shell, it seems strange that you can guess the perfect one just by holding it.

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However, the key to picking the perfect pomegranate is to choose the ones that feel heavier in your hand, and that offer a bright or dark rich red color. Interestingly, with pomegranates, cracks on the skin are a good thing. However, you should avoid the ones with moldy cracks, pink or lighter shades and those with any loose skin.

Pomelos

Originating from China, pomelos are a rich and sweet citrus fruit, which look a little like a grapefruit spin-off. So they share plenty of similarities with other citrus fruits. The sweetest ones to pick have a subtle, sweet-smelling fragrance from the rind.

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If you want to check they are perfectly ripe before you buy, then you can simply hold them, and they should also feel heavy, with the perfect level of firmness, not too soft and not too hard. Another red flag to avoid is pomelos with bruises or soft-spots.

Strawberries

Strawberries are another fragrant and colorful berry, which not only look delicious but are a mouthwatering addition to any fruit salad. If you want to pick the ripest strawberries in the market, then you should look out for the ones with rich, vibrant red colors and shiny green leaves.

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You can also pick the best strawberries by the smell, as the ripest ones are oozing with a distinctive, sweet fragrance like no other. If you’re buying a box of strawberries, you should remember to open it before you buy and check there are no yellow or green berries, dried leaves or crushed berries at the bottom of the box.

Watermelons

While watermelons can be a refreshing and juicy summertime dessert, there is still a special art to choosing the perfect one. According to the experts, the ripest and sweetest watermelons are dark green in color.

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Whether you’re looking for a large or small watermelon, you should pick the one that feels the heaviest, with a firm texture. Another top tip is to look for the creamy splotch on the side of the shell and give it a tap, as it should feel hollow inside. The traits to avoid are mushiness, a lightweight feel and any that are oblong shaped.

Tangerines

Just like other members of the citrus clan, with tangerines, it’s all about the color and the feel. The ripest and juiciest tangerines will offer a deep orange color. They should also feel heavy and firm to squeeze, but with a slightly soft texture, which signals they are ready to peel.

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If you want to be on the safe side, you should steer clear of the tangerines with soft spots or bruising on the outside. The best tangerines should also look vibrant and bright, with no brown coloring or dull parts on the skin.

Apples

With these savvy apple tips, hopefully, you’ll never have to bite into a bad apple again. So, the next time you’re in the market, you should reach for the apples with a deep and rich color. They can be shiny and bright, but the trick is not to look for the overly waxy varieties, as these won’t be as sweet inside.

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With apples, you should also look for ones with are firmer and avoid those which feel more lightweight. As with most other fruits, steer clear on shady bruises or soft spots, as these will often mean the fruit is bruised or rotten in the inside.

Apricots

If you’re searching for the ripest pack of apricots for your fruit salad, then there are also some features which you should watch out for. One of the best signs that the apricot is ripe enough, is if it has a vibrant, bright orange color. They should also feel soft, but not too mushy.

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As you might expect, if the apricots are a faint shade of green, then they’re still ripening and not ready to be eaten yet. Still, you can always place them in front of the kitchen window to get some much-needed sunlight.

Avocados

If like us, avocados are your go-to addition to any salad or dish, then you’ll know just how satisfying it can be to pick the right one. With avocados, you should be careful to choose the ones which are a darker shade of green on the outside, not a lighter shade of green.

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If you’re picking avocadoes in the store, another top tip is to squeeze as many as you can to pick the one that is just the right balance of firm and soft. You can also peel the stem back and avoid ones with any yellow. You should avoid the ones that are too soft or squishy or the harder ones with will be not ripe yet, as they might just ruin your salad dreams.

Blackberries

Blackberries are another seasonal fruit that you will usually see in the winter time. However, although they all might look delicious in the fruit aisle, you should try to pick the blackberry box where all the berries are a deep shade of black or purple.

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Before you even taste the blackberry, you can hold them and choose the ones which feel plump but not too firm, as these will be the sweetest. Another trick is to sidestep the blackberries with green or white spots.

Blueberries

Blueberries are another flavorsome berry that can either be deliciously sweet or leave a sharp or sour aftertaste in your mouth. So to ensure you choose the right ones, you should pick the berries which are deep purple to blue to black and look firm but are not rock-solid.

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If the berries are still reddish or green, this means they are not yet ripe. You should also dodge the blueberries at the bottom of the pack, which might look shriveled, crushed soft or have signs of mold.

Coconuts

Although coconuts may look a little hairy, there are actually untold health, beauty and cooking benefits to their oily insides. Coconut oil can be used to moisturize, protect your skin, improve your dental health and hair, and many use it for cooking and smoothies. So how can you pick the best one?

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The first way to check for the perfect coconut is simply by shaking it and choose the one that sounds like it has a lot of sloshing coconut water inside and feels heavy. Then look into its eyes, on either side of the shell and see that it’s not moldy. Then check it doesn’t have any cracks or other moldy or wet areas.

Dates

If you travel across the Middle-east, you’ll find dried dates are one of the most delicious fruit delicacies in the market. In Morocco, they’re served and cooked with almost every dish. So the key to choosing the most delicious ones is by their appearance.

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The freshest dried dates have a glossy and wrinkly texture and appearance. You should also look for the ones that look and feel plump, but not too hard, as these will be the ripest and ready to eat ones. The ones to avoid are dates which look crystallized or too shriveled.

Cranberries

Cranberries have a festival feel to them and are traditionally served with turkey at Thanksgiving. They are also bursting with vitamin C and often crushed into a sweet and refreshing juice that can be served all year. So naturally, there’s also an art to picking these fruity treasures too.

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You should look for a pack where the cranberries are dark red, crimson in appearance. If you feel them, they should feel heavy or firm, and not too soft. The next thing to check when you open the pack is that there aren’t any berries which are already mushy and crushed or have liquid inside.

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit is a tasty and tropical fruit delight that will help give an exotic touch to any fruit platter. So, if you’re searching for the best of the pack, you should look for the ones with a bright pink or bright golden appearance.

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You can also tell a great deal about how fresh a dragonfruit will be, just by smelling them. The freshest ones will have a distinctively tropical scent to them. While for most fruits, the ripest ones are more firm, this isn’t the case for dragonfruit. The juiciest ones should be slightly soft.

Grapefruit

If you love grapefruit for breakfast, it’s actually one of the healthiest and most refreshing ways to start your day. This is another fruit that can either be mouthwateringly juicy or too sour to eat. So to check you pick the best one, it’s all about the grapefruit skin.

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The freshest grapefruits in the market should have a thin and smooth texture and appearance. When you feel the grapefruit, it should also feel heavy for its size. You should also check that it’s not shriveled in appearance, as it won’t be as fresh. Interestingly though, any discoloration on the skin won’t affect the flavor.

Honeydew

Honeydew is one of the tastiest members of the melon family. However, as it is still a melon, it’s a little trickier to pick the ripest and most juicy ones, as you can only see and feel the outer shell. Still, you can tell a lot about honeydew melons, simply by their appearance.

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The first tip is to inspect the skin, and surprisingly you should look for ones with a pale yellow to light lemon color, and avoid the ones that are green. If you pick it up, it should feel heavy for its size and if you tap it, you should hear a hollow sound. Make sure it smells fresh and check there are no bruises, spots or cracks.

Lemons

This popular citrus fruit is bursting with freshness and can add a citrusy boost to any meal or drink. If you’re searching through the aisle for the juiciest one, then you should look for the brightest yellow lemons, not the pale ones as these will contain with less juice.

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The freshest lemons should feel firm and heavy for their size but have a little give when you squeeze it. If you look at their skin, it should look and feel smooth, waxy and thin. The ones to avoid are those with tinges of green as these are still ripening, and the best ones will have a distinctly fragrant scent.

Limes

Limes are a little rarer than lemons, and they can add their own tangy, fresh and unique kick when squeezed onto any dish or drink. Still, they are still a member of the citrus family, so if you’re looking for the freshest ones in the market, then you should look for some of the same qualities as lemons.

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The freshest limes will have a bright green appearance, and feel heavy and strong for their size. You can also hold the lime and it should feel tough, with some room to squeeze it. The juiciest limes also have their own distinctive scent, and you should avoid the ones with a wrinkled texture.

Nectarines

Nectarines are one of the sweetest and juiciest summertime fruit treats around and are the perfect addition to any summer fruit bowl. However, there is still an art to choosing the ripest ones. If you see nectarines in the market, you’ll often find that they are greenish and hard. You might still take a bite anyway, only to feel the disappointment as they still need to ripen.

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So to ensure you pick the prime nectarines from the pack, then you should look at the color. The ripest ones will be bright orange or golden and feel firm but with a little give. Another top tip is to look for the nectarines which are medium or large than picking the smaller ones.

Papayas

Papayas are another tropical fruit delight that can add an exotic edge to your fruit salad. These are also seasonal, so when you see them pop up in the fruit aisle, there are a few things to look out for.

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When picking the ripest papayas, you should check that they are bright green on the outside, and avoid the ones with blemishes. Another top tip is to feel them and check that they are tough and firm but not rock hard.

Passion Fruit

Passion fruits are another deliciously deceiving fruit. It’s hard to tell from their purple outer shell that they are packed with passion, and the seeds offer a tangy boost to any smoothie or fruit drink. Still, you can tell a lot about passionfruit from its purple shell.

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You should look out for purple passion fruits which are larger, plumper and feel heavy for their size. Unlike other fruits, the ripest passion fruits are dimpled and shriveled, rather than smooth-skinned. You should, therefore, avoid the overly hard passion fruits as these still need to ripen.

Persimmons

Straight out of Asia, Persimmons are a seasonal exotic fruit that you can usually find in the autumn time. They are traditionally grown and exported from Japan and China and have two varieties, Hachiya and Fuya. Each one has its own distinctive orangey look and flavor.

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If you stumble upon these exotic fruits in the store, you should pick the ones with deep orange or red appearance. When checking for firmness, the Hachiya variety should feel softer, and the Fuyu should feel more firm. If you find any dark spots, then these won’t matter so much as they are just dark spots from the sun and won’t affect the flavor.

Quinces

Quinces look a little bit like a squashed pair and have a tasty, distinctive and sharp flavor. Still, they are quite a temperamental fruit. If you come across one of these delicious treats in the market, then they need to be handled with care as they can easily be bruised, and no one wants to see a bruised quince.

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If you’re searching for the ripest, freshest one, you should also look for those which have a golden color. Then simply pick it up to test its firmness. The ripest and tastiest quinces should be tough and firm, with a smooth surface and fewer marks and bruises.

Raspberries

Raspberries are another sweet seasonal red berry that usually hits the stores in the autumn time. If you pick the right box, then you’ll be greeted by a delicious berry flavor that bursts with every bite. So the best advice is to choose the box filled with the shiniest red berries.

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The ripest berries will ooze with fragrance, so it should smell distinctively sweet. If feel the raspberries, they should feel dry, plump and firm. The texture is also important and each berry should look and feel in tip-top shape. Check that there are no crushed berries at the bottom, so you feel any berry disappointment.

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