How to Tell When 8 Fruits Are At Their Tastiest

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iStock

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

woman holding 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

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.

There's an Easier Way to Use a Cheese Grater

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iStock.com/brazzo

Most kitchen gadgets don't come with manuals, but maybe they should. Time and time again, humans have demonstrated a knack for taking something simple—say, a can opener—and finding a way to use it in the most difficult and least-efficient way possible. (Hint: The rotating handle should be placed on top of the can, not off to the side.)

Well, the internet has once again stepped in to save us from ourselves. There's apparently an easier way to use a standard four-sided cheese grater (a.k.a. a box grater), according to a short video that was originally uploaded to Instagram by Menu World. Instead of holding it vertically in one hand, you lay it down horizontally on a table or counter and start grating your cheese from side to side instead of up and down. This prevents the grater from moving around while you hold it, and it's a little easier on your arms. (In a similar vein, you can also apply a coat of cooking spray to the outside of the grater to make it less of an upper body workout, and this is especially recommended if you're grating sticky cheese.)

The cheese grater hack has been going viral on social media, so don't feel bad if you never thought of doing it this way—lots of other people haven't, either.

This method is also helpful because the cheese collects inside the grater, providing a handy visual guide for figuring out how much cheese to shred. When it's grated directly into a large bowl with other ingredients, it can be a little harder to judge.

Here's one final tip for your next cheese-infused dinner: Try using an old toothbrush to clean out all of the grater's little holes. It will save you some time (and perhaps prevent minor grater-related injuries). For more tips like these, Mental Floss has a couple of guides for awesome cleaning hacks.

Want to Save the Environment? Eat Less Meat

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iStock.com/ac_bnphotos

It may be time to order a veggie burger instead of a rack of ribs. For years, climate scientists have suggested eating less meat to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, but the researchers behind a new study say dietary changes are essential to prevent global catastrophe.

The study—published in the journal Nature—is the most comprehensive analysis of how the global food system affects the environment, The Guardian reports. In addition to greenhouse gases being released by livestock, deforestation and water shortages are a couple of other ways that current food production methods hurt the planet. Researchers say there is no easy fix to slow climate change, but reducing our intake of meat is one way that everyone can help out.

“There is no magic bullet,” Marco Springmann, who led the study, tells The Guardian. “But dietary and technological change [on farms] are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste."

That doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian or vegan, though. Researchers recommend a “flexitarian” diet, which involves occasionally eating meat. For this to make a positive impact, the average global citizen would have to eat 90 percent less pork, 75 percent less beef, and half the number of eggs they normally consume. If you simply can't give up steak, the Climate, Land, Ambition & Rights Alliance (CLARA) recommends consuming just two 5-ounce servings of meat per week. Researchers in the Nature study say beans, nuts, and seeds are all recommended sources of protein.

By their estimates, a global shift towards a flexitarian diet would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 56 percent, and would reduce other environmental impacts by 6 to 22 percent. They say the global food system emitted around 5.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, in addition to using vast amounts of cropland, fresh water, and fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus (which pollute waterways as agricultural runoff).

“If socioeconomic changes towards Western consumption patterns continue, the environmental pressures of the food system are likely to intensify, and humanity might soon approach the planetary boundaries for global freshwater use, change in land use, and ocean acidification,” researchers write in their paper. In other words, the current food system might not be able to sustain the projected population of 10 billion people in 2060.

The study follows the recent release of a UN report in which scientists warned that we have only 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Failing to do so would result in more extreme weather events, including drought, floods, and severe heat. If you're looking for other ways to reduce your carbon footprint, try flying less, biking more, and turning down your thermostat. Every bit helps.

[h/t The Guardian]

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