Tuesday’s Tip: Choosing the Best Tropical Fruit

July 19,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Have you tried any of my tips yet for choosing the best and freshest tasting summer fruit?  This week I’ll wrap up the series with a few tips for making sure your pineapple, mango and kiwi taste as fresh as the summertime breeze.

Mango, pineapple and kiwi are among our favorites in the Sweet Pea family.  Both R and G count mango as one of their favorite foods, loving it from the moment they first tasted it.  It is hardly a surprise; mango has one of the highest sugar counts of all the fruits.  While I do try to watch the boys’ sugar intake, the natural sugars that they eat from mango are much preferred to most other types of sugar, since with each bite of mango they’re also eating a fruit with high antioxidant and vitamin levels too.

Pineapple and kiwi are also a very sweet fruits, but both are more acidic than mango.  Pineapple is high in fiber and vitamins and has loads of antioxidants too.  Kiwi had high fiber too and very high levels of Vitamin C.

Here are some tips for picking good tropical fruit:

*Mango, pineapple and kiwi all continue to ripen after they are picked, so if you want to continue to sweeten your fruit, do not refrigerate it, as this stops the ripening process.

*All three fruits should not be mushy or even too soft, as this is a sign the fruit is already overripe.

*Mango skin should be unblemished, slightly greenish-yellow/yellow-orange.  A sweet smell should be apparent when the fruit is sniffed.

*Pineapple ripen from the bottom up, so look for some yellow hues in the background of the pineapple skin at it’s base.  If it is fully yellow, chances are it is overripe.  Smell the pineapple, it should boast a subtle sweetness.

*It is a myth that a pineapple is ripe if you are able to remove one of its leaves at the top.  Someone shared this tip with me months ago, and it seemed not to work for me...then I researched further and found that this tip is not a good indication of ripeness.

*The best way to choose a kiwi is by gentle pressure.  Admittedly, this is a learned art, but a kiwi should yield a bit if it is ripe and ready to eat.

I hope these last four weeks of tips on choosing fresh fruit have been helpful.  Of all the healthy foods out there, I find fruit to be the easiest and tastiest way to improve children’s eating habits.  Experiment with a wide array of fruit and you are bound to find a cadre of fruits your child just adores.  When your child is going through a picking eating phase, call on these fruits to help up the nutritional value of your meals.

Life is sweet (and so is fruit!),