Signs of Acceptable and Unacceptable Quality in Fresh Fruits


I've seen shoppers shake, tap, and squeeze their intended fruit purchases; but which is really best way? How do you decide if fruit is fresh?

For fruits, taste is the best test of quality. Many people rely on appearance as an indication of quality, but this standard  may not, in all respects, be dependable. Blemishes can be present even though the flavor and quality are unimpaired.

Fresh produce must be handled with extreme care because of it's perish-ability. Pinching, squeezing, or unnecessary handling upon purchase will bruise fruits and vegetables, leading to premature spoilage.

Fruits and vegetables show spoilage in a variety of ways. The list below consists of signs of freshness and spoilage of common fruit.


Apples

Good Quality: Firmness; crispness; bright color

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Softness; bruises. (Irregularly shaped brown or tan areas do not usually affect quality)




Apricots   

Good Quality: Bright, uniform color, plumpness

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dull color, shriveled appearance



Bananas 

Good Quality: Firmness; brightness of color

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Grayish or dull appearance (indicates exposure to cold and inability to ripen properly)



Blueberries

Good Quality: Dark blue color with silvery bottom

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Moist berries



Cantaloupes (Muskmelons) 

Good Quality: Stem should be gone; netting or veining should be course; skin should be yellow-gray or pale yellow

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Bright Yellow color; mold; large bruises


Cherries 

Good Quality: Very dark color, plumpness

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dry stems; soft flesh; gray mold





Cranberries

Good Quality: Plumpness; firmness. Ripe cranberries should bounce

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Leaky berries




Grapefruit 

Good Quality: Should be heavy for its size

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Soft areas; dull color




Grapes

Good Quality: Should be firmly attached to stems. Bright color and plumpness are good signs

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Soft areas; dull color






Honeydew Melon

Good Quality: Soft skin; faint aroma; yellowish white to creamy rind color 

Bad Quality, Spoilage: White or greenish color; bruises or water soaked areas; cuts or punctures in rind


Lemons

Good Quality: Firmness; heaviness. Should have rich yellow color

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dull color; shriveled skin


Limes

Good Quality: Glossy skin; heavy weight

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dry skin; molds

Oranges

Good Quality: Firmness; heaviness; bright color

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dry skin, spongy texture; blue mold




Peaches

Good Quality: Slightly soft flesh

Bad Quality, Spoilage: A pale tan spot (indicates beginning of decay); very hard or very soft flesh




Pears
Good Quality: Firmness


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Dull skin; shriveling; spots on the sides


 



Pineapples

Good Quality: "Spike" at top should separate easily from flesh


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Mold; large bruises; unpleasant odor; brown leaves

 

Plums

Good Quality: Fairly firm to slightly soft flesh


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Leaking; brownish discoloration







 Raspberries, Boysenberries

Good Quality: Stem caps should be absent; flesh should be plump and tender


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Mushiness; wet spots on containers (sign of possible decay of berries)


Strawberries

Good Quality: Stem cap should be attached; berries should have rich red color

Bad Quality, Spoilage: Gray mold; large uncolored areas




 Tangerines

Good Quality: Bright orange or deep yellow color; loose skin


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Punctured skin; mold




 


Watermelon

Good Quality: Smooth surface; creamy underside; bright


Bad Quality, Spoilage: Stringy or mealy flesh (spoilage difficult to see on the outside)



Source: "Signs of Acceptable and Unacceptable Quality in Fresh Fruits." Applied Food Service Sanitation. The Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association. 1995

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