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Five Fruits Best Eaten Perfectly Fresh And Ripe

Updated on July 13, 2011
Store-bought peaches just aren't as good / Photo by E. A. Wright
Store-bought peaches just aren't as good / Photo by E. A. Wright


It was under the dry, scorching glare of the afternoon sun in August, far off the beaten path in California's Central Valley. It was at a roadside stand with a dusty parking lot and an old-fashioned produce scale. It was there that I rediscovered the perfection that can be peaches.

White and pink peaches. Red and gold peaches. Peaches with poetic names. Peaches covered in delicate fuzz. Peaches that looked and felt and smelled perfectly ripe.

I left with several paper bags full, but the peaches didn't stay tucked away for long. They looked too tempting, and their looks weren't deceiving.

Not a bite was sour. Not a section was mealy or bland. Each peach was giant and juicy and colorful.

There was only one downside to savoring these summer glories: After this, any store-bought peach would be a serious disappointment.

So when an unfortunate emergency brought me down that road and past that same stand later that week, all I could think was: GREAT! PEACHES!

Some things are just meant to be eaten ripe and fresh. This is guide to these kinds of fruits: the ones you've never truly eaten until you've tried them straight off the tree or fresh plucked from the field.


See above. Store-bought peaces are too often tart and tough,

Strawberries / Photo by E. A. Wright
Strawberries / Photo by E. A. Wright


Fresh, ripe, homegrown strawberries may be smaller than the mammoth, commercial lumps filling baskets in stores. But they are far redder, sweeter pieces of strawberry goodness.

These plums aren't yet ripe / Photo by E. A. Wright
These plums aren't yet ripe / Photo by E. A. Wright


Growing up with a backyard plum tree, I learned that a VERY ripe plum was well worth tasting. I never bothered with the unripe plums. Those ones were still pinkish on the outside and yellow on the inside — just like most plums in the grocery store. Those were so sour they made my teeth hurt.

The ones I wanted were the plums that had ripened to a deep, blackish-purple — the same color as an eggplant. By then, the flesh inside would be deep, juicy red and sweet. Only the skin and pit of the plum would still stay tooth-tingling tart.

Only the orange apricot on the right looks at all ripe / Photo by E. A. Wright
Only the orange apricot on the right looks at all ripe / Photo by E. A. Wright


As with plums, apricots are forever spoiled for me after years of picking them fresh. Drat those backyard fruit trees!

Unlike what you'll see in stores, apricots should not be plucked while they are still uniformly yellow and stiff. Let them ripen on the tree a little longer, and the yellow will fade to deep orange and the top half will blush a bright red. That's when they're ripe, not before. Waiting that long is inviting a game of chicken with the birds. But it's worth it.

A basket of truly ripe apricots will be filled with a mix of saturated, warm shades. Ripe apricots should be soft without yet being mushy. And not a single bite should taste sour.

These Haitian mangoes might ripen more at home / Photo by E. A. Wright
These Haitian mangoes might ripen more at home / Photo by E. A. Wright


A greenish mango will ripen at home over several days, so all is not lost with a store-bought specimen. But a mango straight off a tree is a special thing indeed. Try it sometime.


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