Farmer's Market Etiquette: How to Choose Ripe Fruit

In the grocery store, we tend to hold, squeeze, poke, and prod the fruit to see if it's going to be ripe enough to eat that week.

Try this at a farmer's market and you're likely to get glares from the stall owners!

So what's the etiquette and how can you be sure you're taking home a good peach? Read on...

Grocery store fruit is usually picked when it's a bit under-ripe with the assumption that it will ripen during transport. Whole trees are picked at once, meaning the ripe, unripe, and overripe all go into the mix and making choosing the best fruit a guessing game.

By contrast, fruit at the farmer's market is selectively picked at it's prime and usually within of a few days (or hours!) of going to market. You can buy fruit here with the fairly safe assumption that if it's not already ripe, it will be within the next day or two.

It's ok to pick up fruit to judge it's size and look for spoilage, but hold it gently and don't squeeze or poke. This causes bruising that is quickly visible on the surface of the fruit, making it difficult for the farmer to sell later on.

If you're not confident that the fruit is ripe, smell it close to the stem end. Unripe fruit will have little to no aroma while ripe fruit will smell sweet. The stronger the scent, the more ripe the fruit.

Also, don't be shy of asking the farmer. A simple question like, "Will these pears be ready to eat by this weekend?" can spark a conversation about which fruit is ripest, how to store it, and how long it can keep.

What other etiquette tips do you have to share?

Related:
Quick Tip: What To Do With Unripe Fruit
How To: Use Up Overripe Fruit

(Image: Flickr member GirlReporter licensed under Creative Commons)

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