I found a rotting nectarine amoung the apples. It’s bad enough buying unripe fruit from the supermarket that never turns into something nice. But to buy something yummy and accidentally loose it because of a blended colour scheme in the fruit bowl … such a disappointment. I thought I still had one left. I did wonder where it was.
I’ve been learning how to buy and keep fruit in order to guarantee a tasty supply.
Stockpiling fruit that will ripen after picking is the obvious answer, but it’s an answer that relies on the presence of sufficient up-front funds. The underlying principle is investment.
Investment usually requires capital and carries with it risk.
My biggest risk is buying the wrong fruit. Three Batlow apples sat on my kitchen counter for weeks. Their slightly green colour didn’t change. When I finally took a bite out of each, one was still too green and the other two had turned to flour. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to tell when the fruit is ready to eat.
It was time to learn about the ripening of fruit.
I found the following on a UN website – The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations:
“There are two characteristic types of fruit ripening that show different patterns of respiration:
- Non-climacteric fruit ripening-refers to those fruits which ripen only while still attached to the parent plant. Their eating quality suffers if they are harvested before they are fully ripe because their sugar and acid content does not increase further. Respiration rate slows gradually during growth and after harvest. Maturation and ripening are a gradual process. Examples are: cherry, cucumber, grape, lemon, pineapple.
- Climacteric fruit ripening-refers to fruits that can be harvested when mature but before ripening has begun. These fruits may be ripened naturally or artificially. The start of ripening is accompanied by a rapid rise in respiration rate, called the respiratory climacteric. After the climacteric, the respiration slows down as the fruit ripens and develops good eating quality. Examples are: apple, banana, melon, papaya, tomato.
In commercial fruit production and marketing, artificial ripening is used to control the rate of ripening, thus enabling transport and distribution to be carefully planned.”
My supermarket-sourced Batlow apples possibly fall into the commercial production category. Guaranteeing large scale supply comes at a cost.
Back to the farmers market
So, I’m back at the farmers market. I struggle my small tub of Gala apples, a 5kg bag of oranges, and a black recycle bag of assorted vegetables and fish back to the car, in the rain, dropping the umbrella along the way. Holding the orange-coloured string bag of oranges under one arm, I felt strangely transported. Maggie Bear struggled with a similar bag of oranges and caused her son, Arthur, serious embarrassment.
It is very alarming when, at 50, one starts to identify with Ruth Cracknell’s character from Mother and Son.