Q.: How can I tell when a fresh pineapple or cantaloupe is ripe? Will they ripen after I get them home? I’ve had some bad luck lately.
— J.J., Barberton
A.: Purchasing fruits is always tricky and while there is never a guarantee, there are some things to look for to help you make the best selection.
When it comes to cantaloupes, here are some hints from the Martha Filipic of Ohio State University:
“Ripe cantaloupes will have a sweet, musky aroma. Watch out for any with an overly strong odor — they could be overripe. Avoid melons with soft spots, bruises or punctures. Don’t worry if there’s a ‘bleached’ side where the melon rested on the ground. The melon should feel heavy for its size.
“The blossom end [opposite of the stem end] should yield gently to the thumb. The stem end should have no stem remaining and should have a smooth depression [known as a full slip]. Under-ripe melons do not pull cleanly from the vine and leave a depression with a rough edge [known as a partial slip].
“Cantaloupes should have a prominent, evenly distributed corky ‘netting’ on their skin. Different varieties will have either a buff or light tan netting with a green, yellow or gray background.
“If a cantaloupe is picked before it is fully ripened, it won’t become any sweeter afterward. Like other melons, cantaloupes don’t have a reserve of starch that can be converted to sugars after being picked. But harvested melons do become softer and juicier with time, especially if stored at room temperature.”
For pineapples, here is advice from the experts at www.Dole.com: “Pineapples are picked when ripe and do not ripen after harvest. Select pineapples that are fresh looking. Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which leaves can be pulled out is not necessarily a sure sign of ripeness. Avoid fruit that is old looking, dry or with brown leaves. Avoid bruised fruit or those with soft spots.”
Got a food question? Lisa Abraham has the answer. Call 330-996-3737; email her at email@example.com with “Ask Lisa” in the subject line; or write to her at 44 E. Exchange St., P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640. Please include your name (initials will be printed on request), hometown and phone number.