HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Return "sweet" fruit that isn't sweet?

Would you return fruit advertised as "sweet" to the grocery store for a refund if you found it was not in fact sweet?

I bought some cherries from a local grocery store (Publix, not Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) last week that were advertised as "sweet." They were sold in sealed bags, so no sampling possible prior to purchase. It turned out that while about 10-20% were sweet, to my tongue most of the cherries were more sour than sweet. There weren't any moldy ones, and they all seemed juicy, just not sweet.

Would you have returned the cherries?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Nope. I can't blame a grocery store for nature's doing. If they were moldy inside the bag, I'd return them for being moldy, as that's due to improper storage, but sweetness is all up to nature.

    1 Reply
    1. re: boogiebaby

      I don't fault the store for selling fruit that is not to my liking. I fault them for misrepresenting the product. Calling something that is in fact not sweet "sweet" is misleading.

      The difficulty is in the subjective nature of how "sweet" is defined. If I found that a "seedless" watermelon I had bought actually contained numerous seeds, I wouldn't hesitate to return it because whether a watermelon is seedless or not is a more objective question that most observers would readily agree on.

    2. Since they can't sue Mother Nature, I don't blame growers or sellers for fruit that doesn't taste as good as I'd hoped. You pays your money and you takes your chances. Kramer got banned by the greengrocer for trying to return produce, don't forget!

      9 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        The OP is talking about the false advertising of the fruits sweetness by the retailer. If the seller advertises a fruit as sweet, that is what you expect when you buy it. By posting written claims of sweetness, etc. a seller accepts responsibility that their claims are truthful. If the fruit had no signage claiming sweetness, and I bought it, then that would be my problem.

        1. re: JMF

          It's not false advertising. If you know cherries, you know there are "sweet" varieties and "sour" pie varieties.
          How sweet or sour they are varies.
          SMH.

          1. re: monavano

            Not only that, but even buying sweet cherries there is usually a range of variation within a single bag. The retailer has no control over such things.

            1. re: The Professor

              True.
              When you get that perfectly ripe peach, or very succulent cherry, or corn bursting with flavor, savor the moment!
              I've bought peaches from orchards at the height of season, and they've been "OK", and I've bought them (for far less) at supermarkets, having been trucked in from GA, that had me rolling my eyeballs in delight.

              The question is, was the seller advertising in good faith?
              In the OP's instance, I believe that they were.

              1. re: monavano

                I am currently eating peach pie for breakfast because I bought a bunch of peaches - IN SEASON - that looked great and they were literally inedible - mealy blech - made into pie - with a surprisingly excellent mango they are delish - lemons to lemonade

                1. re: JTPhilly

                  Peach Pie sounds good.I am going to have to have
                  my mother bake a Peach Pie.We usually have Peach
                  Cobblers.

                2. re: monavano

                  Tee hee. I just bought peaches here in GA that were labeled as being from New Jersey (the season being over here). But I bought with full knowledge of that fact and that I was taking my chances with peaches trucked in from afar. They weren't too bad.

                  I'm sure the OP's cherries were labeled with their origin. I think anyone buying cherries in late August in the Southeast is taking their chances. If I'm not mistaken, even way up in the northern Midwest and Pacific Northwest the season is over for cherries, is it not?

                  1. re: LorenzoGA

                    they're still being labeled as from the Pacific Northwest.

                    I think the long, awful winter pushed the harvests back.

          2. re: greygarious

            Kramer was the first thing that came to my mind when reading the post.

          3. I would definitely return them for false advertising. I see this all the time and just yesterday bought some white necatrines from Fairway, Pelham, NY that were advertised as sweet and crispy. they were neither, but sour and with a mushy, odd texture. They are getting returned today.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              Seriously? You can't make lemonade from lemons?
              When produce isn't what my little first world heart desires, I'm savvy enough to repurpose them.
              Thanks for passing on the cost of your entitlement to me.

              1. re: JMF

                Is it not for the consumer to shoulder SOME portion of the risk? I suppose a retailer could, at one extreme, test the fruit daily or otherwise take great care to ensure it has the absolute most desirable characteristics, but that kind of care would come at a cost. In some instances, I'd rather pay less and take some risk than pay more and take less risk.

              2. Absolutely not. To do so would be asinine.
                I'd remember and not buy more.
                This year, we're having a horrible pumpkin crop (and melons).
                I simply don't buy bad produce, when it's predictable.

                IF you can verify they're selling Montmorency (or another sour cherry varietal) INSTEAD of sweet cherries, well, yes, that's false advertising.

                PROTIP: they're NOT selling sour cherries. Sour cherries have an ephemeral season, and we're past.

                Secondary Protip: buy the cherries with the green stems, they're fresh. If you bought from a grocery store, you get what you deserved.

                18 Replies
                1. re: Chowrin

                  guess again...if OP bought them at Publix then OP is in the southeast.

                  Since cherries don't grown in Publix's coverage area, you really don't have many options *other* than supermarkets to buy cherries, as even farmer's markets will have trucked them in from somewhere hundreds of miles away.

                    1. re: monavano

                      No kidding.

                      Florida has a head-up-their-ass rule that farmers cannot sell directly to the public...that it has to go through a produce distributor.

                      There are roadside stands, but they buy from the markets.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        That is so sad!
                        I would be lost without my markets.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            I might have to rethink my retirement plans!

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              there's starting to be some rumblings that it might be challenged, but for the short term? Yeah, we're screwed.

                              Fortunately, there are u-picks (because that's legal, at least...) and CSAs are picking up momentum...all we can do is hope and wait.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          She can simply NOT buy cherries. Or buy frozen, or canned.
                          I don't ask for mangos, or whine that they aren't good (none of them, including from Whole Foods, has been worth ANYTHING. I've had fresh mango on multiple continents. It is to DIE for. I don't expect it in PA).

                          Or buy dried cherries (twice dried mangos are fabulous!)

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            frozen, dried, or canned? You're joking, right?

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Child, joking is the farthest thing from my mind. As frozen cherries are better than fresh cherries let sit for too long, I think I'm recommending the better option.

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                Child? really? Are you so doubtful of your own position that infantilizing someone else to make yourself feel better is a valud argument?

                                Fresh cherries may or may not be good. They'll be at least edible.

                                Canned or frozen cherries will never be good, and anybody who thinks dried are a straight-up substitute is delusional.

                                It's not a better option in any possible way.

                                1. re: Chowrin

                                  There may be some uses in bakeries for which frozen cherries will do, but they are certainly no substitute for fresh sweet cherries. When they are out of season, one does without, or eats those that have been canned.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    and "canned" as in prepared at home, not out of a tin.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Yes. When you live near cherry country, as I did, you get a lot of cherries in summer for littlr or nothing (depending on who you know). You "put them up" for the winter.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        Dried sweet cherries are a sublime treat. I enjoy them just as much as I enjoy good fresh ones. A handful of them always goes into my oatmeal while it is cooking.

                                        1. re: The Professor

                                          In some cases, they do the job where a fresh cherry can't.

                        2. Along similar lines (but with melon), I have returned a watermelon before. After spending $10 on a watermelon (major craving) - only to cut it open and find a dry/white/mealy melon laying before me I packed it up and drove back. Luckily, the store was minutes from my house or I am not so sure I would do it...

                          1. The only reason I don't return most things I'm less than satisfied with is because of the inconvenience. Stores count on this. But if I had plenty of time on my hands and 80% of the cherries were sour, sure I'd take them back. Why put up with substandard produce if you don't have to.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: miss_belle

                              It isn't the store's fault. And if you do it enough, they will go out of business.
                              Living in a food desert isn't pretty, kids.

                              But, yes, Miss Belle ain't had to worry about that, has she? She can pay the higher prices for her selfishness.

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                Fresh fruit is supposed to be a delight, not a disappointment. It IS the stores fault for selling lousy fruit. Do you think they do not know good from bad? Return it. How about avocado that is black on the inside? Cantaloupe that does not ripen? Dry mealy peaches or nectarines? Give 'em back.

                                1. re: phantomdoc

                                  yes. Let's please put the store into the seat of Mother Nature herself, and make sure that their costs increase enough to make produce inaccessible to everyone.

                                  1. re: phantomdoc

                                    As with very many fruits, cantaloupes don't ripen (in the sense of developing sweetness) after they are picked, they just get softer (as in decaying). Not the fault of the grocer but the farmer. Even a grocer can't sample every melon to determine that the pickers were 100% accurate (oh, and measuring would of course raise costs....).

                                    1. re: phantomdoc

                                      Have you had a drop of heat this summer? We haven't (polar vortex). All melons and pumpkins local to us are gonna be crummy.

                                2. Publix has a satisfaction guarantee, they will take the product back with no questions asked.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: janniecooks

                                    Exactly, thank you. I've returned things myself under that policy.

                                    1. re: janniecooks

                                      Yeah, I figure they would, as my sense has been that my local branches value customer service. (The one item I've asked for a refund for over the years at Publix was for something that was advertised as on sale but was rung up at the usual price. I asked them only to make up the difference, but they gave me a full refund and let me keep the product without any questions.)

                                      I was just curious as to how others handle tend to handle this sort of situation with fruit, which I'd think isn't all that uncommon. Especially since more and more of it is being sold wrapped in plastic without any samples.

                                      1. re: racer x

                                        I have returned navel oranges that were dry and without any juice. They took them back. I believe that Publix (or any other store) should be informed when the products they are selling are not up to snuff so they can change suppliers. Really, it is the store's responsibility to sell the quality that they loudly claim to offer.

                                        As an aside, I despise my local Publix practice of wrapping everything in plastic. You can't tell the real quality of the contents, and in some cases I believe the enclosure hastens decay.

                                        1. re: janniecooks

                                          I agree with you on all points about the shrink-wrapping. That's always been a particular obsession of Publix, and while they'll always break packages if you ask, it's a PITA and I want to pick my own produce, thanks.

                                          They seem to be at least drifting away from it - the large selection of fresh greens is a sign - but I wish they'd just stop it altogether.

                                          Not only does it hasten spoilage and keep people from picking the produce that they want, it's a tremendous waste of packaging (yes, I recycle it, but I'd rather not have it at all!)

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            The waste of packaging is most offensive.
                                            Just provide huge trash cans so that people can shuck in store and avoid the mess at home, and you're good to go.

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              for bulk corn sold unshucked, they do provide trash cans (and they're actually quite good at making sure the silk and husks are swept up and the bag changed regularly)

                                              Things like zucchini and squash are still packed onto a foam tray and wrapped in plastic. Drives me bonkers and I avoid it as much as possible.

                                              Hogs the space in the fridge, too.

                                              I love Publix (as do most folks -- their customer-service rankings are always at the top) -- but they do have some issues that I wish they would deal with.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                The Corn Shucker's I have seen in Safeway don't care about Trash Cans.Those Shucker's will just throw those shucks right on the floor and keep on trucking.

                                              2. re: monavano

                                                For the unenlightened cooks who don't realize that maximum corn flavor comes from steaming or nuking with the husks and silks still in place. Not to mention that once the cooked ear is cooled anough to handle, the silks and husk come off together in "one swell foop", to quote a friend...(okay, sometimes TWO);-)

                                      2. "Sweet" when used in advertising cherries is a variety distinction in contrast to "sour" or "tart" cherry varieties. It's purely a relative differentiator, not an absolute one. So, the answer to your question is No.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          This.
                                          Do you really think a store clerk taste tested the cherries and said, "hey, let's advertise these as sweet!"?
                                          No, dear, it's a distinction as to the variety of the cherry.

                                          1. re: monavano

                                            still rather they called them "dark hearts" or queen anne, mind.

                                          2. re: Karl S

                                            This. I think you have to try to understand the product a little better before making an it an issue. That said, if you aren't happy take them back. But when you start throwing numbers out there like 10-20% it sort of sounds like you are guessing a little bit there anyway.

                                          3. No. That would be petty.

                                            1. If only I did this every time I bought an ear of corn that wasn't crisp, juicy and sweet...

                                              This is a good lesson to buy local and in season. Otherwise, you get what you pay for.

                                              36 Replies
                                              1. re: monavano

                                                I open an ear of corn and take a bite to see if it is sweet before I buy a dozen.

                                                1. re: phantomdoc

                                                  Do you then put it back if not satisfactory, or do you tell someone to toss it??

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    Any good farmer/market offers you an ear to try. If they don't, then don't buy it.

                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                      I've never seen that in the many years that I've been going to farmers markets, and I go to a lot of them.
                                                      Never.
                                                      Peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, yes, but corn? No.

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        Have you asked? Its common here in my area but honestly it was about 25/30 years ago, when traveling back roads in MD that a farmer told me to never buy an ear of corn without trying one. He said "if it is not good raw then it's not worth buying"

                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                          No, I haven't. I'm talking about samples that are put out. I've never seen corn samples.
                                                          Plus, I wouldn't take a free ear of corn. I'd pay for it.

                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            So you are ok with taking a free peach but not corn? I find that odd.

                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                              Do you read??
                                                              I take offered samples, not a whole fricking peach.
                                                              Who the f does that?

                                                              I don't ask for free shit at any market. If it's offered, I might try it.
                                                              I've never seen corn samples.

                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                Apparently, there are people who DO. I'm as astonished as you are. Not to mention that even a bite from a platter of free samples doesn't guarantee that every piece of fruit or vegetable will taste the same. When I buy a bag of bing cherries, it generally contains some that are bland
                                                                and mealy, some that are perfection, and some in between. It's not like sampling a cube of cheese, for God's sake!

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  Right. I don't get it. If the produce isn't "perfection" in every way, I figure out what to do with it.
                                                                  With not so sweet corn, I simmer it with milk and sugar, or grill it, or sautee it up to caramelize the sugars.
                                                                  I mean, figure it out!
                                                                  Something I won't do is moan to the farmer that their corn wasn't making my skirt blow up.
                                                                  Why even take one free ear? Famers Market X is once weekly, ad farmer Y sells corn there. What if the corn is really good? Damn! I wish I bought more because now I have to wait until next week to go to market X and buy from farmer Y.

                                                                  And, sorry, I don't ask if I can take food for free. This is obviously different from taking samples that are offered.

                                                                  I don't know why the difference fails to be evident.

                                                                2. re: monavano

                                                                  Um yes I can read. Oh and write too!! An education is a wonderful thing, but thanks for asking, you are a peach, LOL.

                                                                  Are you talking places like Costco that offer cut up samples? I was talking about actual farms and/or farmer or speciality markets. They routinely offer tastes to their customers. What better way to sell your wares than to show they are worth it? Sorry you think that thats asking/offering "free shit".

                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                    Still not believing you can read, or at least, comprehend.
                                                                    Asking for free food=bad
                                                                    Taking offered samples at farmers markets=good

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      So you think I can't read? Interesting.

                                                                      Why is asking bad? Seriously, I am curious.

                                                                      Around here and in all my history at local farms and farmers markets they routinely offer tastes so it's not unusual. Often when asked they say something along the lines "Oh, hold on, we were just putting out more".

                                                                      My favorite farmer goes even farther and makes salads and the like with his produce to show it off. He doesn't put it out for the masses but ask about his crops and he will whip out the most amazing corn and black bean salad, a tossed caprese-style one or a roasted ear of corn. He is proud of what he grows and is happy to share.

                                                                      If you think asking is "bad" then don't do it. Problem solved.

                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                        OK, I'm done. I've made my point over and over, but the distinction fails be be impressed.
                                                                        I think asking for free food is ridiculous when I can afford said food and can think on my feet if I bring it home and it's not perfection.

                                                                        Getting back to the OP, this is what they should do vs. taking it back.

                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                            Peaches and nectarines -- they're offering you the seconds. of course they'll taste better than the firsts (they're often bruised, or just to the point of fermenting).

                                                            Still a good strategy.

                                                          3. re: foodieX2

                                                            foodieX2: "Any good farmer/market offers you an ear to try. If they don't, then don't buy it."

                                                            -- I grew up in corn country (Chicago area), and it was routine in the grocery store in those days to shuck back the husk and take a look at an ear or two before buying a bunch of ears. (I never saw anybody actually bite into corn in the store though.) As I recall, the corn was always of excellent quality.

                                                            But at my local Publix and Winn-Dixie stores, they now sell ears of corn on styrofoam trays, pre-shucked and covered with plastic wrap.

                                                            1. re: racer x

                                                              <<But at my local Publix and Winn-Dixie stores, they now sell ears of corn on styrofoam trays, pre-shucked and covered with plastic wrap.>>

                                                              The Stop and Shop here offers both, loose and prepackaged. I have never seen anyone buy the pre packed kind but I am sure lots do or they would offer it.

                                                              Corn is something I buy fresh and only in season. In the next week or two I will husk and freeze ears for the winter doldrums. The exception is WF's frozen, roasted corn kernels. It makes a very acceptable corn/black bean salad.

                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                I've always assumed the pre-packaged produce is the way supermarkets cater to germaphobes, for whom the contemplation of prior handling of their food by the hoi-polloi is the stuff of night terrors.

                                                              2. re: racer x

                                                                My Publix carries both -- corn in the husk, and shrink-wrapped. I never buy the shrink-wrapped.

                                                                I was taught to pull back the husk and look to see if the ear is fully formed and the kernels are plump.

                                                                I was never taught to take a bite, and consider it subhuman to take a bite and then NOT buy it. It's not okay to ruin it and then put it back, and it's not okay to throw it away.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  I take a bite AT HOME after I've bought it. That tells me what I'll do with the corn.
                                                                  If the corn is really good, I'll probably eat off the cob. It it's not sweet and/or a bit starchy, I'll coax more flavor out of it and use in another way.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    Who takes a bite and puts it back? That's plain disgusting.

                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                      That's why I asked the poster what he/she did with the corn if the bite wasn't satisfactory.
                                                                      Ick!

                                                                    2. re: racer x

                                                                      It's common to be able to shuck to take a look, and get rid of the husk, which is nice.
                                                                      I've never seen anyone bite into an ear in the store.

                                                              3. re: monavano

                                                                Sweet corn goes downhill fast. I learned that when I lived in the upper midwest. Unless I buy the corn at the place it is grown, and can go right home to eat it, I'm not much interested in fresh corn.

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  That's not my experience. I can enjoy corn for days after buying at the farmers market.
                                                                  I'm turning into an ear of corn right about now.

                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    You must be buying some horrid corn then. REAL sweet corn has a sugar halflife measured in hours. That's why they pick it same day.
                                                                    (Now, if you don't need it sweet, then fine. I don't want to be comparing shellybeans to greenbeans, if you get my meanin')

                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                      Absolutely not the case!!!
                                                                      I have found the Holy Grail of corn and revel in it every year.

                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                          Mirai, but, shhh, keep it our secret :)

                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                        That kind of corn has been almost entirely absent from farmstands in the Northeast (at least from my many samplings each season in ME, RI, NY) for many years now. Almost all the corn at the farmstands is now at least quite sugar-enhanced if its not outright supersweet, and it takes days for conversion to become very noticeable if you keep the corn refrigerated. Farmers know what the bulk of their customers want, and they switched years ago.

                                                                    2. re: GH1618

                                                                      Take it home, cook it all immediately, then refrigerate. The cooking halts the sugar-to-starch conversion. You can reheat and enjoy the remaining corn over the course of several days.

                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                        The fresh corn varieties largely sold at farmstands these days are rarely the older types that converted quickly to starch. Many take several days in refrigeration before the conversion becomes very noticeable.

                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          Definitely my experience. I eat a LOT of corn this time of year, and buy a good handful of ears to last me the week.
                                                                          The quality doesn't suffer that much.

                                                                    3. By the way, "sweet" identifies certain varieties of cherry as distinct from "tart" cherries. It is not a guarantee of a particular level of sweetness, which can vary.

                                                                      1. I really like how so many folks are talking themselves into accepting mediocre quality, and not doing anything about it.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                          Here's what you do. You make something out of it instead of being entitled.
                                                                          If the food is rotten or bad, take it back. If you buy "sweet" cherries, out of season, from thousands of miles away, then don't cry when it's not superb.
                                                                          Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

                                                                          Veruca.
                                                                          Salt.

                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                            Just about the only things we grow here in Miami are citrus, strawberries, and condos. Even most of the commercially grown tropical fruits we have come from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

                                                                            If the fruit were always bad, that would be one thing. But it's very hit or miss. Some batches of fruit from the grocers are spectacular.

                                                                            1. re: racer x

                                                                              Exactly. You don't get the best fruit all the time.
                                                                              Is it rotten? Take it back.
                                                                              Is it not the ripest or sweetest? Repurpose it.

                                                                              I've been disappointed at farmers markets and thrilled at grocery peaches.
                                                                              You just don't know unless you can sample, and that's not always possible.

                                                                              Food that's taken back is likely to be tossed and the loss is passed on to customers like me, so I don't return food wantonly.

                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                Then you are lucky. Mangoes around here are pretty universally bad. Tomatoes out of season are pretty universally bad, except if they come from a can, in which case you can guarantee they were picked ripe.

                                                                                I don't return things if I'm not lucky. I don't expect to EVER get a good passionfruit or mango in Pennsyltucky.

                                                                              2. re: monavano

                                                                                Interesting. I personally never said anything about cherries. "how so many folks are talking themselves into accepting mediocre quality, and not doing anything about it."

                                                                              3. re: JMF

                                                                                Some consumers probably feel like they may as well accept the fruit and just doctor it up.By the time they are finished making double trips to the store the cost of gas might pan out to cost more than what they paid for the fruit or the item that is being returned.

                                                                              4. Since a couple of contributors to this discussion have stated that 'sweet' refers to a variety of cherry, as opposed to how sweet the cherries are expected to be, let me clarify.

                                                                                (1) In my area, at the grocery stores where I routinely shop, cherries are not labeled "sweet cherries" to identify a particular variety. If the store is selling a sour cherry variety, then they label the product as "sour cherries." Otherwise, all cherries are labeled simply as "cherries" and are implied to be a sweet cherry variety.

                                                                                (2) Here's exactly what the tag at the store says:
                                                                                "Northwest Cherries
                                                                                Extra large and extra sweet. High in vitamin C and folate."

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: racer x

                                                                                  That tag suggests that it is a "natural food" grocery. Such places make a lot of claims which don't hold up.

                                                                                  A normal grocery would just label them Bing or Ranier or whatever.

                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                    publix is a "normal grocery store".

                                                                                    no, i have never returned fruit. ever. however, i do not buy out-of-season fruit from central or south america either. ever.

                                                                                    op: i understand you don't have local cherries, but you could have bought some grown closer to home in the late spring. anything now is a crapshoot.

                                                                                    either give them away or make something out of them, like pie.

                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                      Or you could buy frozen cherries. Or DRIVE NORTH to find some "local" (am considering hitting Michigan for some nice sour cherries, one of these years.)

                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                        but just like the produce vendors -- 1500 miles in the car when the better part of half the voyage is at temps in the 90s with humidity over 80%?

                                                                                        Yeah -- there's a mold culture waiting to happen. and it's 2 days of **hard** driving from Michigan to South Florida.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          Pack 'em in ice, they'll keep decent frozen.
                                                                                          (I use sour cherries for pies, and other cooked things (well, I don't cook icecream, but you dig?). People rarely eat them fresh -- and they wouldn't last 2 days in Michigan off the tree without significant degradation).

                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                            No. Frozen won't ever be the same as fresh.

                                                                                            We eat fresh cherries out of hand all the time (as do many other folks I know).

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              i have never eaten frozen cherries but adore them out-of-hand and in-season. however brief that may be.

                                                                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        I'm as close as most of us get to a major cherry growing region - the eastern slopes of the Cascades. That's still a 2 hr drive away. But I don't have problems with buying California cherries earlier in the season, or Montana ones later. Cherries ship well enough that national distribution can be staggered like that based on when the local crop ripens.

                                                                                        I would miss a lot of cherry goodness if I limited my self to buying 'local' cherries from the back of someone's truck. For the most part I get cherries (and similar fruit) from an 'ethnic' produce store near Trader Joes. Prices can be great, in part because they aren't adverse to selling the stuff that distributers need to get rid of fast.

                                                                                      3. re: GH1618

                                                                                        Publix is a major grocery chain in Florida. They all but own the Florida grocery market (they're based here) and are known for their excellent customer service.

                                                                                        They have a large organic section, but they're very much a "mainstream" supermarket.

                                                                                        What might be sweet for one person might not be sweet at all for another person. Doesn't make the cherries defective, nor does it make the supermarket who labels them "extra sweet" fraudulent.

                                                                                        Find another purpose for the cherries, or give them to someone else, but don't take them back.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          Ok. Florida is a long way from Oregon, though, but Bings are routinely shipped around the country and the world.

                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                            I've enjoyed bings hauled in from very far away and this year's were great.
                                                                                            Of course, I also buy them at the farmers markets, especially pie cherries- enough to get me through until next season.

                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                              but they're transported by commercial means (reefer trucks), not hauled cross-country in a pickup.

                                                                                      4. You might 'repurpose' them.

                                                                                        I turned a batch of not-so sweet green grapes in to a nice spicy sauce (cooked much as I would cranberries).

                                                                                        With cherries I'd try a clafouti.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                            An improvised gazpacho variant would also work, and the non-sweetness of the fruit can even help in that case.

                                                                                        1. I do not return it.

                                                                                          But I don't often bother to buy fruit that I can't sample or have some other assurances that it will have been fully ripened as it should be so that it has some flavor. Peaches and tomatoes, in particular - there's too much useless crap on the market. It's not a matter of being let down by mother nature. They're picked too early for easier shipping, and everyone involved knows the flavor suffers. To be fair, I haven't had as many problems with cherries.

                                                                                          It sucks that you paid good money for a poor product at the grocery store. But OTOH, you probably already know that the big grocery store business model is built around assuring the lowest prices and minimal loss and optimum appearance in produce, all at the expense of flavor. Perhaps the best way to combat this is to avoid giving them your money in the first place, and to instead give your business to those who make a point of selling a better product.

                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                            As I mentioned above, cherries don't grow anywhere near Florida, which is where OP says they live.

                                                                                            They have to be trucked in, and I'd trust Publix to have transported them well. I wouldn't at all expect a truck by the side of the road selling cherries to have kept them at temperatures that wouldn't hasten spoilage -- the temperatures here in Florida and Georgia (thus the highways that they'd have to travel on) are in the 90s every day, with humidity well over 80%....warm, dark, humid, and sweet fruit = mold.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              But if you're going to buy fruit that is not local, not quite in season, and does not ripen adequately after being picked (as opposed to citrus fruit, avocados, or bananas, for example), then you're inherently taking a risk in buying that fruit in the first place. If you're in the American Southeast around this time of year, and you pass by a farmer's market or stand selling peaches on your way to pick up a bag of cherries at the grocery store... how much sympathy do you expect?

                                                                                              (no offense intended to the OP - I'm questioning the shopping strategy, not the character of the poster)

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                peaches come from Georgia -- so a day's drive at the most.

                                                                                                and yes, I do buy peaches from the roadside guys (because Publix carries only peaches from California, even though the frigging truck has to come RIGHT THROUGH GEORGIA). Drives me bonkers, and I've had that conversation with the produce manager at the store.

                                                                                                For the record, I made a lot of clafoutis with cherries from Publix this summer (and ate a lot more cherries) and thought they were particularly sweet and delicious this year.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  I've bought great GA peaches at my supermarkets in VA.
                                                                                                  Good stuff.

                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                    *sobs*

                                                                                                    We haven't had many peaches this year -- the pirates who've been set up in my area want almost $6 a pound for GA peaches

                                                                                                    They're sweet (they give samples), but yoiks.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      our local mass. peaches have been really good this year.

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        I'm jealous -- I love peaches, but I refuse to buy hard green windowbreakers from California -- it's just the principle of the thing. (and yeah, they're hard and green and have no scent at all...so there's no way they're ever going to taste good!)

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          where are you from? we got one of the best "north of the carolinas" peach farms on the east coast(ish) area hereabouts...

                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                            I've stated where I am multiple times in this thread.

                                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            I agree with you on avoiding peaches that have no peach aroma at all, but I've been pleasantly surprised after taking a chance and trying some pretty hard nectarines that at least had a good strong scent in the store. After sitting at room temperature for a few days, they soften up and, in many cases, taste delicious. I've been seeing these types more often the past couple of years.
                                                                                                            (Fortunately, I haven't yet seen the green peaches you mention!)

                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          That's highway robbery!
                                                                                                          Peaches are at a loss leader price of $.88 and $.98 here.
                                                                                                          Farmers markets are generally ~ $3.

                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                            they had them as low as $1.99 a pound here...but there's a lot of space between $2 a pound for green rocks and $6 a pound for good ones.

                                                                                              2. Maybe this is just a case of unreasonable expectations due to unfamiliarity with the product. I've never had a Bing cherry that didn't taste good (disregarding any that were starting to rot), and never saw one for sale that wasn't ripe enough to eat.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                  and I've never had one so deplorable that some sugar and a crust didn't make it pretty stinkin' good.

                                                                                                2. No, because I can't be bothered to return groceries due to logistics. But these kinds of claims do drive me nuts - same with "tree-ripened" fruit that isn't ripe, "ripe" avocados that aren't, etc. Especially if you pay some kind of premium price. Now, if I had the foresight to taste the cherries in the store after I bought them and found them lacking, then I most certainly would have promptly asked for my money back. Because they should not make claims they can't back up. Just sell the cherries, don't tell me they are sweet if they are not.

                                                                                                  As for all the comments on local-ness. I am in Toronto. We do grown sweet cherries around here for a limited season, but I have never had good ones. They tend to be small, mushy and not sweet. I much prefer Washingon Bings at their peak. I buy them when they get down to $2.99/lb or less, because I find cheapest price correlates with peak season. I like these cherries for eating out of hand, not baking, smoothies etc, so I have no interest in preserved cherries. Just as-fresh-as-possible, in-season nice Bings, from far, far away of which I buy maybe two bags a year. I'm all for local but not when it outweighs taste, for something that is a rare, seasonal treat.
                                                                                                  Usually the season is probably late June early July, but this year I bought some in late July at Walmart (the horror!) because they were $1.99/pound and firm to the touch. They were pretty good. It is possible to use your tastebuds and some common sense to eat good cherries that are not local. Are they better closer to their source, probably, but that doesn't mean *my* local cherries are better. I don't keep track of the crop in Washington but peak will vary from year to year and again, I usually find low prices tell me when it's time.
                                                                                                  All this to say, OP is not automatically at fault for buying non-local cherries, slightly out of peak season. It's not February. Perhaps he took his chances but so did the store when they special-labelled these as sweet!

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                    "No, because I can't be bothered to return groceries due to logistics. But these kinds of claims do drive me nuts - same with 'tree-ripened' fruit that isn't ripe, 'ripe' avocados that aren't, etc. Especially if you pay some kind of premium price."

                                                                                                    -- Thank you, julesrules.

                                                                                                    There's been a lot of talk here about the wonders of farmers markets. Well, I think we all agree that farmers markets are great -- when they are available and convenient for you to use. That's not what this discussion is about. This is specifically about produce from the local supermarket.

                                                                                                    There's also been a lot of talk here that basically amounts to saying that the buyer deserved to get unsatisfactory product for having been so foolish as to buy out of season.

                                                                                                    As I tried to point out above, EVERYTHING - short of some citrus and strawberries - is ALWAYS out of season here. Yet we still often manage to enjoy very good fruit, including cherries on occasion, even though it has all been carted in from hundreds or thousands of miles away. So it's not just a matter of having bought something out of season that had to withstand travel over long distances. If I were to limit myself to only buying fruit that was locally grown and in-season, I'd have to stop buying fruit.

                                                                                                    My beef is with the store having described the cherries as "extra sweet" when they are not. I don't fault the store for selling fruit ranging among a variety of levels of quality. It would be unreasonable to expect a store to always have perfect fruit. Mother Nature just wouldn't cooperate. But I do fault them for describing the fruit in a way that is misleading. And after eating and buying cherries for decades, I think I've developed a reasonably accurate gauge of what the spectrum of normal sweetness for cherries is (regardless of whether what I consider to be pleasingly sweet is the same as what others do).

                                                                                                    So by all means, go ahead and sell the cherries. Just don't make them sound like something they are not.
                                                                                                    And price them fairly. When they cost $4 a pound, I'd really like to have the option of enjoying them eaten out of hand, as opposed to feeling no choice but to make do using them for a compote or something.

                                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                                      but "extra sweet" to you might not be for someone else, and vice versa.

                                                                                                      And cherries are considered "in season" in the summer time -- it's when they're sent in by ship from Chile that they are considered out of season.

                                                                                                      1. re: racer x

                                                                                                        $4 a pound is not an exorbitant price by any means, and you might consider speaking with the manager or writing to the company about how they advertise their fruit.
                                                                                                        It may help others, including yourself, and be a more helpful solution to the problem than just you getting your money back.

                                                                                                        1. re: racer x

                                                                                                          It's not that you deserved to get bad fruit. It's just that you're putting faith into a system that doesn't deserve much faith. You probably understood already that grocery stores don't hire taste testers or fork out for a brix meter. That any adjectives describing the quality of what you buy in a supermarket is meaningless marketing, and not an informed opinion. And that a closed bag (along with most supermarket rules/norms) forbid the taste testing of fruit before buying.

                                                                                                          The question is whether you knowingly assumed the risk of buying shitty fruit by buying from the supermarket (even if their fruit is often perfectly decent). I just don't consider supermarket marketing's assurances of flavor binding. It's an open secret that adding the word 'sweet' (or 'delicious' or 'juicy' or even 'ripe', etc) on the display stand for fruit is pretty meaningless.

                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                            It brings to mind a newspaper interview from a few years ago. The reporter inquired about why the interviewee (a Florida farmer) exclusively chose to grow the bland (albeit prolific and shelf stable) supermarket variety of tomatoes rather than more flavorful types.
                                                                                                            His response was "...I'm not in the business of selling 'flavor'..."
                                                                                                            That kind of explains a lot.

                                                                                                          2. re: racer x

                                                                                                            My advice? You got a valid complaint. Take it in as a complaint.
                                                                                                            "You labeled these as extra sweet, and they aren't. I'm letting you know this, because you might want to talk with your supplier."

                                                                                                            Let THEM suggest the money back. It's a valid way of letting them say they're sorry. If they don't give you money back? Oh well.

                                                                                                            It's also significantly less jerkish than "You said these would be sweet, and they aren't. Money back please."

                                                                                                            Both may (and probably will) lead to higher prices in the long term. But at least with the first approach, it's Their fault (and who knows, they may have a budget for "make angry patron go away")

                                                                                                        2. I live out in the boondocks. I just chuck fruit and veg that have gotten old or aren't great out for the critters. I don't recommend this in the suburbs :)

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                            Or the city. Rats and rabies, what fun!

                                                                                                          2. Return them. The grocery store should be purchasing products from suppliers that use brix meters.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. In theory, yes. Even if they were sweet.

                                                                                                              In practice, no. Not worth my time, or effort.

                                                                                                              1. Fresh cherries, Southeast? August? at a supermarket? your expectations are high. Since some were sweet they are not likely proper "sour" pie cherries juts cherries picked before fully ripe long ago and far away. Cherry season in the NEUS was in May-June they are long over so who know were your cherries came from - its like complaining about a mealy apple purchased in April or a bland watery December tomato - produce is a crap shoot but buying in season and paying attention to where it came from can help.

                                                                                                                1. I probably wouldn't return it unless it was moldy.If not moldy I would just make a nice fruit salad topping it with a little white sugar and a little powered sugar glaze mixed with a little lemon juice.

                                                                                                                  1. "Sweet cherries" is not an advertisement of sugar content. It is a botanical description of the variety/cultivar of cherry, in contradistinction to "sour cherries."

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: DrGaellon

                                                                                                                      reading the thread would tell you that "sweet" was indeed being used in the advertisement as a descriptor, and not as an indication of cultivar.

                                                                                                                    2. Another vote for not returning unsatisfactory produce that is otherwise in what is generally considered salable condition, i.e., not rotten or damaged. It has long been my view that we as consumers have to shoulder part of the risk. How palatable an item is isn't always apparent from inspecting it in the store--as in the case of the OP's cherries. (BTW, you didn't really buy cherries in August in the Southeast, did you?--they are imported from far far away.)

                                                                                                                      I am conflicted, though. The consuming American public accepting low-quality produce is a major reason groceries continue to supply it to us. Putting our foot down--voting with our wallets--is the only way I see to change this. It IS possible for a major grocery chain to offer fruit that is appropriately sweet, juicy, or whatever it's supposed to be. When I travel to France and Belgium, for example, the fruits and vegetables in the supermarket almost always deliver on whatever characteristics they are supposed to have--perhaps not QUITE as delicious as if from a roadside farmstand, but on average far better than what we Americans are willing to accept from our grocery chains. Maybe if we start returning fruit that is dry, mealy, not sweet, or otherwise unpalatable, the grocery chains will rise to meet the new demand for better quality?

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                                        Yikes!A wallet vote that isn't in the stores favor will stop them
                                                                                                                        from peddling those bad apples and whatever unsweetened fruit they have.