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How to Tell When 8 Fruits Are At Their Tastiest

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Fruit is a high risk, high reward game. A bright juicy strawberry is the epitome of summer but too often you spring for produce only to get home and find your fruit only looks good—if that. To help prevent that post-purchase regret, we've rounded up some tips for picking the ripest, most delicious summer fruit.

1. Pineapple

fresh pineapples
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Don't judge a pineapple by its color—even a green pineapple could be perfectly ripe on the inside. When judging appearances, look for one that seems fresh with bright green leaves and a sturdy shell. But the real test is in the smell. Give the pineapple a whiff—it should smell sweet and like, well, a pineapple. If you can't smell anything at all, that particular one probably isn't ready yet; if it has a sharp, vinegar-y smell it's overripe. Once you've picked the best pineapple, eat it quickly, because they don’t ripen after they get picked.

2. Strawberry

The rule with strawberries is: If it's not bright red, it's probably not sweet and delicious—but the corollary doesn't apply. Just because a strawberry looks straight out of a staged summer catalog doesn't mean it will taste good. Strawberries continue to redden, but not ripen, once they've been harvested, so the color will change but not the flavor. How do you make sure you're not succumbing to the false advertising of a ruby red, unripe batch? Just like with pineapples, the proof is in the scent. Check for the pint that smells the sweetest and you should avoid wasting money on flavorless fruit.

3. Melon

Be it cantaloupe or honeydew or watermelon, the tough rind of melons makes them particularly tricky to get a read on. First, as with all fruit, make sure the visible parts are relatively blemish-free, even though you can't see what you'll actually be eating on a melon. Smooth melons, like watermelon or honeydew, should be matte rather than shiny (which usually indicates under-ripe fruit) and textured melons like cantaloupe should be golden orange underneath the "netting" (unlike the green one above). As with all fruit, check for a sweet smell to rule out unripe options. The final test comes down to a weigh-in. Ripe melons will feel especially heavy for their size, so pick through the pile and compare like-spheres to get the juiciest fruit. If it's a watermelon, go a step further and give the outer shell a tap. Ripe watermelon will sound hollow inside.

4. Cherries

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First of all, it matters what kind of cherry you're dealing with. If you're in the market for the pink-and-gold Rainier cherry, don't let the yellow coloring turn you off. However, when it comes to sweet red cherries, you want to look for highly-saturated, deep reds. If there's still a stem attached it should be bright green. And avoid cherries with wrinkles around the area where the stem meets the fruit.

5. Peaches

The color of the skin will depend largely on which part of the peach receives the most direct sunlight, so don't wait for those yellow patches to turn red. However, peaches with green or white spots—check near the stems, in particular—won't be ripe for a few more days. And of course, give a (very light!) squeeze to confirm ripeness.

6. Mangoes

First, don't worry about color. Mangoes come in a range of colors that vary based on things that have nothing to do with quality. The only way to really tell if a mango is ripe is to see if it gives a little when you touch it.

7. Avocados

As with mangoes, coloration is not particularly informative when it comes to judging an avocado. Fortunately, there's a clear and simple test for finding out if your avocado is ripe before cutting into it. All you have to do is pull off the stem nub or cap at the end of the avocado. If it falls off easily to reveal a green patch underneath, you're good to go. If it's hard to remove, the avocado likely isn't ripe yet, and if it leaves behind a brown patch the fruit is already past its prime. (Note: be prepared for angry looks for flicking the stems off avocados in the store).

8. Tomatoes

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You want deeply saturated, firm flesh with just a slight give when it comes to selecting a prime tomato. Get an idea of just how flavorful it will be by giving it a whiff—the best ones have a sweet, woody smell. And beware of any wrinkles, which indicate produce that has been left out at room temperature for too long.

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Food
Former NECCO CEO Has a Plan to Save the Company

It’s been a month of ups and downs for fans of candy company NECCO and its iconic sugary Wafers. In March, The Boston Globe reported the company is in desperate need of a buyer and that CEO Michael McGee notified the state of Massachusetts that most of their employees—around 395 of them—would likely face layoffs if a suitor isn't found by May.

That news caused a bit of a panic among candy lovers, who stormed CandyStore.com to hoard packs and packs of NECCO Wafers, should the company go under. In the weeks since the news about NECCO’s uncertain fate hit, sales of the company's products went up by 82 percent, with the Wafers alone increasing by 150 percent.

Seeing the reaction and knowing there is still plenty of space in the market for the venerable NECCO Wafers, the company’s former CEO, Al Gulachenski, reached out to CandyStore.com to lay out his plan to save the brand—most notably the Wafers and Sweethearts products.

The most important part of the plan is the money he’ll need to raise. Gulachenski is set to raise $5 to $10 million privately, and he’s creating a GoFundMe campaign for $20 million more to get his plan into motion. Once the funding is secure, the company will move to a new factory in Massachusetts that allows them to retain key executives and as many other employees as they can.

“I can promise you that if you donate you will own a piece of NECCO as I will issue shares to everyone that contributes money,” Gulachenski wrote on the GoFundMe page. “This company has been in our back yard for 170 years and it's time we own it.”

Gulachenski also elaborated that, as of now, there is another buyer interested in NECCO, but that buyer “is planning to liquidate the company, fire all the employees and close the doors of NECCO forever!”

So far, Gulachenski has raised only $565 of the $20 million needed. “I know it seems like a long way to go but I do expect some institutions to jump on board and get us most of the way there,” Gulachenski wrote in a GoFundMe update. “It is also likely we can get most of the company if we get to half of our goal.”

There is still a bit of a sour taste for candy fans to swallow, even if NECCO does get saved. According to Gulachenski, the Wafers and the Sweethearts may be the only products that the reorganized NECCO continues with. This could leave lovers of the company's other candies, like Clark Bars and Sky Bars, out in the cold.

“The sugar component Necco Wafer and Sweetheart is certainly the most nostalgic and recognizable brand, more than the chocolate,” Gulachenski told The Boston Globe. “It’s all going to depend how they decide to sell the company and liquidate.”

While you can still order the Wafers in bulk from Candystore.com, the site itself even says it has no idea when or if shipments will stop coming, especially as NECCO's future remains uncertain.

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alcohol
The Latest Way to Enjoy Pho in Vietnam: As a Cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pho is something of a national dish in Vietnam. The noodle soup, typically topped with beef or chicken, can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There’s even a version of it for happy hour, as Lonely Planet reports.

The pho cocktail, served at Nê Cocktail Bar in Hanoi, contains many of the herbs and spices found in pho, like cinnamon, star anise, cilantro, and cardamom. Without the broth or meat, its taste is refreshingly sweet.

The drink's uniqueness makes it a popular choice among patrons, as does the dramatic way it's prepared. The bartender pours gin and triple sec through the top of a tall metal apparatus that contains three saucers holding the spices. He then lights the saucers on fire with a hand torch as the liquid flows through, allowing the flavors to infuse with the alcohol as the drink is filtered into a pitcher below.

The pho cocktail
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Pham Tien Tiep, who was named Vietnam’s best bartender at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition in 2012, created the cocktail six years ago while working at the famous French Colonial-era hotel the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, according to AFP. He has since brought his signature drink to several of the stylish bars he owns in Vietnam’s capital, including Nê Cocktail Bar.

Initially, he set out to create a drink that would represent Vietnam’s culture and history. “I created the pho cocktail at the Metropole Hotel, just above the war bunkers where the American musician Joan Baez sang to the staff and guests in December 1972 as bombs fell on the city,” Tiep told Word Vietnam magazine. “The alcohol in the cocktail is lit on fire to represent the bombs, while spices, such as chili and cinnamon, reflect the warmness of her voice.”

Tiep has a reputation for infusing his drinks with unusual local ingredients. He has also created a cocktail that features fish sauce, a popular condiment in Vietnam, and another that contains capsicum, chili, and lemongrass in an ode to the bo luc lac (shaking beef) dish, according to CNN.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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