Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Importance of RIPE fruit

People are quick to cross fruits off their "lists" because the fruit has given them some of the undesirable  effects listed below. In doing so, they lose potential to reap the benefits of all the nutrients, fiber, and perfect water that that fruit has to offer! 

Has a banana ever made you constipated? Have oranges or kiwis ever given you blisters in your mouth? Chances are you have experienced some side effect of eating un-ripe fruit. My hope in this post is to educate about the importance of fruit being ripe before you eat it. 

What it means when a fruit is "ripe"
After a fruit is picked, it starts letting off a gas called "ethylene" at a faster rate. This gas increases enzyme activity in the fruit.  Enzymes break down the starch and pectin in a fruit to bring it to ripeness. The enzyme that breaks down the starch in a fruit is the same enzyme in our saliva! So, basically a ripe fruit is pre-digested. (yummy!) Breaking down starch, makes the fruit sweeter and easier to digest. Breaking down pectin makes the fruit softer. So, when a fruit is "ripe" it is softer, sweeter and easier to digest. Ripe fruit is usually always more nutritious as well. 

             **Bananas especially take on super powers when they get fully ripe! Google it to find out how! **

But why does this happen? Are the plants catering to our bellies? NO! (and yes)

 As a plant ripens, it's immune system is weakening so that the parasites (us) can eat and digest it. Then (before the days of indoor plumbing) we eat it and expel the seeds in a perfect fertilized package to continue the growth of the species. If a plant is not eaten by an animal, this same process happens, but the fruit continues to be broken down into a softer and sweeter goo that eventually returns to the soil along with it's seeds. 

The consequences of eating unripe fruit
If a fruit is unripe, that basically means that nature says it's not ok to eat it. The plant is not ready to reproduce. There are several signs that will tell you if a plant is unripe to eat. You should pay attention to these signs, as they will have consequences if you disobey.  For example, if you bite a fruit and it is acidic to the taste, or burns your gums or tongue, chances are it's not ok to eat. You will probably end up with blisters in your mouth. If you eat a fruit that is too hard, chances are it will not taste good, nor will it be juicy. Who wants that? If you ignore the signs and eat the fruit anyway you will have digestive problems. These range all along the spectrum, most falling at the end of slowwwwww movinggggg bowels. This is what give bananas a bad rap. Don't' eat a banana unless it smells sweet and looks like these:

My bananas from today. Perfect specimens of ripe, sweet, deliciousness!

Anyone remember this regarding berries:
"Red and sweet are good to eat, but I swear by this sonnet, the greens ones will make you vomit." It's a great rule to remember to avoid a disaster :)

Nature doesn't rush. Why should we. Let's wait for our fruit to be perfectly ripe before enjoying it. It will taste better and will be of greater benefit to you

- Don't put fruit in the fridge before a fruit is ripe. This ruins the ripening process.
- Find a dry spot to ripen your fruit to avoid mold. (especially in the summer)
- To speed the ripening process: 
      1.) Use a container with a tight lid or a sealed brown paper bag. The lid and the sealing  
           helps trap the ethylene gas, so it will be able to affect the fruit faster.  
      2.) Place a fruit near other fruits. Apples and bananas give off more gas than other fruits.   
           So keep this in mind when storing your fruit.
- Take in to consideration when you will need the fruit and buy accordingly. If you will be using it right away, buy the ripest one possible.  
- Never let not knowing how to tell if a fruit is ripe or not stop you from trying something new. Just Google it! You'll be glad you did!
- Keep unripe or nearly ripe fruit out on display on your counter. It makes for a beautiful decoration AND it's a great reminder of what you have available for a snack. Oh and the smell. I love coming home from work and being greeted by the smell of ripe bananas.  
My fruit stash I keep at stocked school. Notice my rainbow art project on the wall and
my doll made from a milk bottle?
Oh the joys of being a preschool teacher. :) 

It's easy to tell if most fruit is ripe. Squeeze for softness, smell for sweetness, look for non-greenness (it's a word, ok) But some fruit is not so easy to tell...

To some, the concept of a ripe orange is a new one. Oranges are not like bananas or melons that can be squeezed or looked at to determine ripeness. But here are two pretty reliable ways to tell if an orange is good to eat:
        1.) THE WEIGHT: Hold the orange in one hand and focus on it's weight. Compare it with other oranges. The heaviest one usually will indicate the sweetest, juiciest, freshest one! 
This is a TANGERINE! HUGE and amazing! A little expensive... but WORTH IT!
        2.) THE SKIN: The skin will be looser and easier to peel as the fruit becomes riper. This 
              is very easy to tell with a fruit like the orange. Test for looseness before buying.  

A fruit is actually the plant's ovary!? I LOVE plant ovaries, don't you? They are so much more interesting and beautiful than animal ovaries. I would safely bet they taste better too.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, just post below! You can also find me on Facebook at "The Empowered Way" I update the page everyday! 
Look out for my next video coming on Saturday!!

Search for knowledge. Be inspired.  

Wishing you lots of love and ripe fruit,



  1. Great info and tips! Where were ripe bananas my whole life??That's my dad's shredded wheat cereal. Everyone thought he was gross for eating old looking bananas. Turns out he was right all along :)

    1. Thanks for the comments, Dave! I know an old man that used to say "Bananas make you purdy", turns out he was right all along too! You are the first one to comment on my blog! Thanks!

  2. Meg, how do I keep my bananas from bruising if I wait till they're ripe?! How many fruits do you eat a day?

    1. Hi Jill! I would suggest laying them out upside down so that the part where they come together at the top is touching your counter. Less of the banana will touch that way. Also, don't let them touch other fruit! I have a banana basket that I use and it works great. I lean them around the sides of it!

      It would be hard to estimate how many fruits I eat a day. My diet is usually around 70 or 80% carbohydrates, most of those come from fruit! My breakfast is always 100% fruit. Usually it's a 4 banana smoothie with some dates and cinnamon in it! Then I have fruit all throughout the day. In the summer, my lunch is usually fruit too. But to get enough calories to feel good, you need to eat ALOT of fruit. It's a joy to eat this way! :)

      Thanks for questions, have a great day!

  3. When I was younger my mom insisted on using what I thought were "old, nasty" bananas to make banana bread. Until recently, I never could figure out why the bread did indeed taste AMAZING with those bananas. I honestly don't think she knew the exact reason either! It's incredible how little we are informed about the food we eat. I love how now I can smell if a banana is ripe or not! It honestly doesn't taste good to me anymore if I try to eat unripe fruit. Thanks for this post Meg!

    1. You are so right about us being uninformed about the food we eat! That is why I wanted to start this blog. I believe KNOWLEDGE and making informed decisions is the key to health!

      I can no longer eat unripe bananas either! Funny how that happens!

  4. Hi Meg, are you almost vegan? How do you manage to do it in Korea? Btw, I love your blog!

    1. Hi Magda! YES! There really isn't a name for what I am. I am a high raw vegan. I tend to follow the 80-10-10 lifestyle. BUT if there is some hidden traces of eggs or milk in something, I'm not fussy. Especially if it's given to me by one of my students or a friend and I have to eat it in front of them.

      It IS SO difficult to be vegan in Korea! They just don't really understand it as a culture. They come from being a 3rd world country not too long ago, so they can't imagine excluding anything from the diet. They eat the organs of all animals. Even some of the undesirable ones.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I'm just starting out with this blog, but I really enjoy it!


    2. I totally believe you that it's so difficult to be vegan in Korea. I'm vegetarian and any time I think of living in Korea, I get scared that it would be too difficult because I keep reading how it's a culture of sharing food and so much over there revolves around food. Do people treat you differently (as opposed to other foreigners) because you don't eat meat?
      By the way, what is 80-10-10 lifestyle?

      I tried your dressing recipe a few days ago and it was great! Can't wait for next posts!

  5. It's strange, but there ARE SOME vegans in Korea. All Buddhist monks are vegan, and some Buddhists are as well, but for some reason, it's still a new concept for most Koreans. I am in a situation now with my school that I am not confronted with the sharing of meals much. Public school would be a different story, though- it would be VERY difficult!

    In a nutshell- 80-10-10 is a diet based on 80% cals from carbs, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat. This is a vegan diet and most people that follow it eat raw. I do not eat exclusively raw, though. There is better/more eloquent info online and you can even read the book The 80-10-10 diet. It's great!

    I'm so excited that you tried my dressing!! Which one did you make!?

  6. Awesome, I will check it out.

    I made the cherry tomatoes dressing and I added my own twist - strawberries :) I think now that I've discovered how easy it is to make a dressing, I'll never buy the ready-made from the store.