Apples are harvested ripe and will lose their crispness if stored in your fruit bowl for more than a day or two. To maintain their crisp texture, apples should be kept in the coldest part of your refrigerator, well away from odor producing foods. Just as each apple variety tastes or looks different, they also store differently. Some may only last a few days in the refrigerator; others will keep for weeks. Because apples produce ethylene as they ripen, they should not be stored in plastic bags or anything that restricts air flow. Oxygen is important to ripening and maintaining good quality fruit, and lack of circulation can lead to moisture build-up and mold. To keep peeled or sliced apples from turning brown, drizzle or rub them with citrus juice. The acid will keep the flesh from oxidizing for several hours, making fresh cut apples the perfect addition to kids lunches. It will also add zip to the flavor of milder apples.
Pears are generally harvested green and then allowed to ripen. They should be allowed to ripen at room temperature and not stored in the refrigerator until they are ready to eat (then only for a few days). As pears ripen, some varieties will change color slightly. Green varieties like Bartlett will take on a golden cast as they ripen. The most reliable way to determine the ripeness of a pear is to apply gentle pressure to the stem end with your thumb. If the pear gives slightly, it is ripe. Some pears, like Bosc, are meant to be enjoyed firmer than others. You will also notice that ripe pears are more aromatic than pears with a few days to go. Like apples, pears generate ethylene as they ripe. They should not be stored in plastic or anywhere with restricted air flow. You may find that your pears will ripen faster if a few are placed in a loosely closed paper bag, but remember to check them every day.
Citrus fruits do not ripen after they are picked. Like most ripe fruit, citrus should be stored in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on eating it for a few days. Lemons and limes will last the longest in your refrigerator, while tangerines may not last more than a week. Most citrus ripens from the inside out, so don’t be disappointed if you find your oranges or mandarins are tinged with green. The green peel does not mean that the fruit inside is unripe, and the color should not dissuade you from enjoying the juicy flesh within.
Most stone fruit (e.g., peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, etc.) continues to ripen after being picked. It is important to ripen the various varieties of stone fruit at room temperature without moving them to your refrigerator until they are fully ripe. If stone fruit is exposed to temperatures between 36 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit before it is ripe, it can suffer internal breakdown which may result in mealy flavorless fruit. The best way to tell if stone fruit is ripe is to give it a gentle squeeze. If the fruit is tender, it is probably ripe. Ripe stone fruit also has a wonderful full-bodied aroma. When storing stone fruit, it is best not to stack it more than two layers deep. Avoid plastic bags at all costs. Since chemical fungicides are not used on organic stone fruit, moisture build-up can lead to mold. Once ripe, enjoy at their peak. Pies, freezing, canning, smoothies and even dehydration are great ways to use and preserve stone fruit at its peak.
Although many varieties of mango exhibit a color shift as they ripen, there are varieties that remain green even when ready to eat. Therefore, it is safer to use your sense of smell or touch to determine ripeness. Mangos will be tender and aromatic when ripe. If they start to wrinkle, they should be used immediately. Like all tropical fruit, an unripe mango should never be stored in the refrigerator. In general, it is best to store mangos either at room temperature where they will ripen or between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit if you wish to slow ripening. Once ripe, mangos can be stored in the refrigerator, but only for a few days. Unlike most fruit varieties, mangos actually get sweeter as they ripen. You may notice small black flecks on the skin of some mangos. Unless these spots are soft, they do not indicate a quality problem. On the contrary, they may suggest that the mango will be especially sweet and flavorful!
Pineapples are harvested ripe. You will notice, though, that they will gradually turn yellow if left sitting on your counter (which happens if the fruit is left on the plant as well). This color shift may bring with it a slight change in flavor, but overall, pineapples will not get sweeter once harvested. Long-term refrigeration of pineapples is not recommended because cold temperatures can cause internal browning.
Berries and Miscellaneous Fruit:
There are many types of fruit which are harvested ripe, and they should be stored in the refrigerator at all costs. These fruits include cherries, grapes, figs and most berries. These fruits generally have a very short shelf life and should be eaten within a few days. If left out at room temperature, they will not last longer than a day or two.