While some fruits can ripen after picking, others will not. Whether homegrown or from the grocery store, use these lists to know which unripe or nearly-ripe fruits can ripen or sweeten on your kitchen counter and those that will not.
For best storage tips, Fridge or Counter? lists the best place to keep fruits and veggies to maximize flavor and freshness.
Will This Ripen?
Whether you grow fruit in your garden or buy it at the store, if it was picked before fully ripe, is there a way to know if it will improve over time?
Will it become sweeter on my kitchen counter?
Should I put it in a paper bag with a banana to speed things along?
Or is it a fruit that won’t ripen further no matter what?
For ripening to occur at all, fruit must first reach a certain level of maturity that makes them capable of ripening. This can only happen while still attached to the plant.
From there, fruit fall into two basic groups.
- If picked when mature, the first group are fruits that can ripen after picking.
- The second group are fruits that cannot.
For example, if a storm knocks down a bunch of peaches or pears, if the fruit had reached maturity at the time of the storm, it is possible for those fruits to ripen indoors.
But, other fruits like oranges, cherries, or blackberries are not going to ripen or sweeten once they are removed from the mother plant. If they were picked too soon, that’s it for them. They will not improve.
Keep reading for lists of the two groups of fruit along with tips for encouraging some picked fruits to ripen faster.
There is also a printable list in the Resources section.
- Overview – When is Fruit Ripe?
- 25 Fruits That Can Ripen After Picking
- Fruits That Do Not Ripen After Picking
- Frequently Asked Questions
When Is Fruit Ripe?
When fruit is ripe it has maximum sweetness and flavor. And the more we know about how and when our favorite fruits mature and ripen, the better harvesting and shopping decisions we can make.
It’s easy to forget which fruits improve after picking and those that do not—I’m looking at you, oranges!
A sour orange is not going to suddenly sweeten off the tree. But a mature, firm plum can gradually morph into perfection after a few days on the kitchen counter.
The list below tells you which team each type of fruit is on.
The Difference Between Mature and Ripe
One helpful tip when growing your own food is to understand the importance of maturity as a plant milestone. Mature does not mean ripe. Maturity means the fruit is now capable of ripening because it has completed its physiologically development.
This is where the days to maturity listed on seed packets and plant tags are so helpful.
Mature = physiologically ready to ripen
Ripe = edible with peak flavor and texture
Fruit must be mature in order to ripen.
Only when the fruit on a plant reaches physiological maturity (and conditions are right), can the fruit ripen.
From there, some fruit can only ripen on the plant.
Other fruits, known as climacteric fruits, can ripen on the plant and after picking. And, to confuse it further, certain fruits like avocados only ripen after picking.
25 Fruits that Can Ripen After Picking
I’m sure you’ve heard the trick of putting unripe, mature fruit in a paper bag—perhaps with an apple or banana—to get it to ripen faster. And it’s true, it can work. But only for fruits that naturally produce ethylene gas on their own (and are therefore receptive to it), which are listed here.
Ethylene gas helps convert starch into sugar both on the plant and after picking.
Fruits That Can Ripen After Picking
- Avocado matures on tree, but only ripens after picking.
- Blueberry should be harvested as ripe as possible because flavor will not improve after picking.
- Cantaloupe will soften but not sweeten after picking.
- Tomato – See How to Ripen Tomatoes After Picking.
Tip to Accelerate Fruit Ripening
This tip works for climacteric fruits that give off ethylene gas which in turn speeds up ripening. It’s most effective in the early stages of fruit maturity.
- To accelerate ripening, place any of these fruits in a paper or cotton bag or cardboard box (not plastic because it must be breathable). It’s best if the fruits are spread apart and not touching.
- Ripe bananas give off good amounts of ethylene gas, but any fruits on this list work.
This means you can put a ripe banana in a bag with any other fruit on the list, and it will speed up the ripening of that other fruit.
- Check daily and remove any spoiled fruit.
- Generally takes 3-5 days total.
That said, I’m sure you’ve experienced this too: some fruits just never ripen. Likely, if they are climacteric fruits, they never reached physiological maturity before they were picked.
Will Not Ripen After Picking
It’s ideal to get these fruits at a market where you can taste test them first because they’re not going to improve at home.
In some instances, these fruits may soften after picking as they begin to breakdown (rot, really), but flavor won’t improve.
Fruits That Do Not Ripen After Picking
- Pineapple may soften after picking but does not become sweeter.
- Strawberry – exogenous ethylene may induce secondary ripening processes, even though it’s not a climacteric fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some fruits known as climacteric fruits like apples and peaches may ripen slightly after cutting but they will also begin rotting. Fruits that cannot ripen after picking (non-climacteric fruits), like oranges or peppers, will just start softening and decomposing.
One easy-to-remember definition is that a vegetable contains no seeds. Fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. Vegetables come from other parts of the plant such as stems, leaves, and roots.
By this definition, it’s easy to know which food we grow need pollinators and those that do not.
- Fruits form from pollinated flowers.
- Vegetables are just leaves, stems, or roots of plants and do not require pollination.
You can read more about the differences between fruits and veggies at Live Science.
If you want to go down an interesting plant botany rabbit hole, have a look at Why Are Bananas Berries, But Strawberries Aren’t?
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Eco-Friendly Kitchen Ideas
Food waste is one big problem.
If you end up with fruit that won’t ripen, put it in your compost bin or offer it to friends with farm animals that enjoy those fruits.
More Ways to Reduce Waste
If you also share my concern for the amount of plastic waste in the world, consider a shift to zero waste products.
- Reuse containers and plastics we already have.
- Bring reusable shopping and produce bags to stores.
- Look for sustainable options including silicone food bags and stainless-steel food containers.
Use discount code melissa10 at EarthHero checkout for 10% off most items.
- Which Fruits Ripen After Picking | IAState.edu
- Do Apples Really Ripen Faster Next to Bananas? | Science Focus
- Ripening | Wikipedia
Knowing which fruits can ripen after picking—and which ones do not—will help make the best decisions when harvesting your garden. Better to keep the fruit on the plant if your only hope for ripening is extended warm weather in fall.
Taste tests at the farmer’s market will ensure you only purchase already ripe, good-tasting non-climacteric fruits because they aren’t going to improve at home.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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