No, this is not about the party game where everyone is assigned to be a different fruit and some poor soul is trapped in the middle of the circle. A blog a few down from mine is discussing that. This post is literally about fruit...and a few veggies. I have spent an entire lifetime grocery shopping with The Bag Lady-- Riding in the cart, riding ON the cart, tipping over the cart, distractedly ramming The Bag Lady with the cart (this is always met with choice words and my "driving privileges" being revoked.) I never realized the great wealth of knowledge I gathered on these trips. I grew oblivious to the stares of our fellow shoppers. You see, The Bag Lady is an expert produce picker. Many times a lost and wobegotten soul has plucked up the courage and asked her advice on the perfect melon, pear, or rutabaga. Just as each fruit has it's own flavor, shape, and identity, the method of selecting a ripe specimen varies from fruit to fruit. Allow me to share The Bag Lady's knowledge--no cart collision required.
First off, we need to get over the idea that all melons can be thumped. The only melons you should be thumping are watermelons. They're still kind of touchy, but the ones with a slight indentation where the stem connects are usually sweeter.
Cantaloupe-Smell where the stem connects to the melon. It should be sweet and cantaloupy.
Honey Dew-You'll get stared at with this one, but it works. Shake the honey dew next to your ear (don't hit yourself in the head), you should hear the seeds rattle. This works for crenshaw melons as well.
Grapefruits, lemons, oranges, tangerines-Look for fruits with a thin, soft skin. If it's thin and hard, it's old.
Nothing is quite as lovely as a perfectly ripe pear. Lots of people complain that they don't like pears because they are mushy. Guess what, mushy pears are overripe. A ripe pear should be firm, yet giving and juicy, NOT woody. To pick a pear, hold it upright and gently press the flesh closest to the stem.
If it gives slightly it is at the peak of ripeness.
Cucumbers should not be mushy. That's just gross. Gently squeeze the ends of the cuke, it should be firm. Cucumbers age from the ends to the center. If your tips are mushy it's only a matter of time before your core spoils.
Don't sniff the leaves of the cilantro! Instead, smell the cut ends. It should be strong and pungent.
If you go to the Dole plantation in Hawaii, they will tell you that you don't need to worry about selecting a ripe pineapple. All Dole pineapples are fresh and ripe on the shelf. However, should you have to buy a different brand of pineapple, smell the bottom. It ought to be sweet and pineapply. If it has even the slightest scent of mold or fermentation--drop it like it's hot. Well, unless you're planning on making pineapple liqueur. If your pineapple has uniform eyes, it indicates that it's had sufficient and even watering. Pulling out a leaf is a wives tale.
Oh and rutabagas should be firm. Just FYI. ;)