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Sep 2, 2009 05:10 AM

Underipe fruit/veggie in grocery stores

So this isn't a rant exactly, though I am quite frustrated.

How do you all deal with going to the grocery store to find that everything in the produce section is underripe/not ready for consumption? Tomatoes, avocados, peaches? I am going absolutely nuts.

Yesterday I bought peaches - today I hoped that they might be OK to eat and I tried to take a bite out of one... hard as a rock. I don't know how many days it will take them to ripen... and by the time they do I might have forgotten about them and they will over ripen and need to be thrown out.

Seriously, what do you all do? Say you want to make a specific dish - when do you shop? After all some days the foods are ready to eat almost overripe and other days you will buy that peach and it won't be ready for a week!

Suggestions please! And yes, I already understand that flexibility is key but please give me some credit!

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  1. I refuse to buy produce in the grocery stores anymore for that very reason. I do the farmers markets when available and try and freeze as much as I can to eat over the winter months. Most of what we can find at the store we can find fresh at an orchard, farmers market, etc. It is def worth the trip and much more affordable too. Nothing beats fresh produce!

    1. I suppose that I should be more specific.... there are times that going to a farmers market really cannot happen. How can you combat the unripe food items in the grocery store?

      1. It is frustrating but it is sort of a catch-22. Take peaces and avocadoes, both soft. If the suppliers ship them perfectly ripe, they invariably get all bruised up in transit. Also allows a smaller window of time for the retailer to sell the produce. OTOH, green fruit is undesirable to customers who want to use it TONIGHT.

        One approach is to go to your favorite stores and buy what is good and ripe today for immediate consumption and a few things that need a few days for later in the week. If you forget you have peaches ripening on the counter until it is too late, then I guess you just need to pay more attention to your peaches! Most things shouldn't take much more than 3 days at warmish room temp to ripen.

        1. Considering the amount of travel time (and miles) that most produce goes through, there's really no way to guarantee the ripeness once something gets to the store. But I get that you know that already. (BTW I'm with Smileelisa on this one, as much as possible.)
          So, I'd recommend something I've heard many a TV chef suggest. Go to the market, see what's ripe/cheap/in season/yummy NOW, and then plan your menu.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bakinggirl

            Unfortunately that's not always possible, if you're planning a special dinner party or something. At least for me, if I'm hosting a big event, I start cooking a couple of days ahead and I need to know my menu is going to go together.

            I tend to choose recipes that are a little bit flexible -- fruit based desserts where I can pick whatever fruit is ripe, for example. Or where I'll be cooking the fruit so it doesn't matter quite so much.

            Otherwise, if I need fruit I know I can eat today, ethnic grocers tend to carry produce that's a little more of the moment than the major supermarket chains.

          2. With avocados, I find that they are almost always better if you buy them green and ripen them yourself in any event. Unless you have a very consciencious produce person at your local market, the "ripe" avocados are often ones that have been refrigerated to hold their condition, which ruins their flavor in my opinion.

            As for other fruits, I would suggest you be more flexible (yes, I know you already said you try to be, but you may save yourself some frustration if you try to go more with the flow on a given day ;-) on what you want to eat immediately. If the peaches aren't ripe, maybe the melon is. Or go with a fruit like grapes or bananas, which typically are more forgiving when it comes to ripeness. With tomatoes, I rarely if ever buy tomatoes other than cherry or plum varieties in the grocery store, as it has been years since I had a good full-sized grocery store tomato. I've rarely had a problem finding ready-to-eat cherry tomatoes in the market.

            Otherwise, you are just going to have to plan ahead. I bought some green avocados this past weekend, knowing I was going to have a taco party next weekend and will want them for guacamole. Rather than leave it up to last minute chance, I bought them ahead (since I prefer to ripen them myself anyhow).

            You also might try a different market. I find that grocery stores can vary widely in how their produce managers handle the produce. Whole Foods almost always has ripe fruit on hand, including avocados. Of course, that is part of the reason it is more expensive. If you have a produce manager that takes care to see that there is ripe fruit on hand, you are going to have higher waste, thus higher prices.