Overripe Fruit – Don’t Wait For Perfection

Overripe Fruit – Don’t Wait For Perfection

I want to talk today about that sweet spot (pun intended) where fruit has perfectly ripened into quick-digesting simple sugars but before it has gone into the acrid, acidic truly overripe stage.

As low fat raw vegans, fruitarians, perfect-digestion-seekers, whatever you want to call us, we focus so much on making sure fruit is ripe that we forget that it can be too ripe.  Gorey images to follow… but don’t worry, only fruit was harmed in the making of this post.

If you’ve been reading any other low fat raw vegan blogs or articles, you hopefully know by now that what the average person thinks of as overripe really is just ripe enough.  Ripe bananas have spots, mangoes are soft enough to indent, melons smell sweet at the stem, pineapples are yellow all the way up, and on and on.

But is there a point where ripe enough becomes just too ripe?

Yes.  I’ve fallen into the trap of chasing ripeness many times and ended up throwing away pounds of fruit along with my money down the drain.

Goldilocks conundrum - unripe green papaya and overripe moldy
Goldilocks conundrum – unripe green versus overripe moldy papaya.

I had an entire case of mangoes go bad because I was waiting for them to indent under my finger to the touch and to smell just right.  In our house, we recognize when bananas have crossed that safe threshold and we just chuck them because once they go mushy they make Jay sick (because he truly does eat 30 bananas a day).  I also have had countless papayas go moldy as I waited until they indented and were completely yellow.  Bananas may be cheap, but mangoes and papaya are expensive!

Turns out that what I thought was a papaya-ripening problem may actually have been a situation of over-following directions and being too overzealous… as we health nuts are apt to do.  Imagine that.

The other day, I decided to cut into a papaya before what I would have considered “ripe” enough.  And guess what?  It was the perfect papaya!  The ideal ripeness and it digested oh so smoothly!

This papaya is juuust right.
This papaya is juuust right.

Papaya perfectly ripe

So how do you know your fruit is ripe enough?

Really, it’s trial and error, and over time you will start to almost have a fruity sixth sense.  (Really.)  Unripe fruit is starchy or tough or bitter.  Overripe fruit has lost its shape, the color is off, or it just tastes wrong.  When I bite into a piece of fruit that is perfectly ripe, I just know it.  I think that we as humans are born with a innate sense of when our natural foods like fruit are at their peak nutrition aka perfectly ripe.  Evolutionarily, it would have been an important trait, but what do I know…

Don’t take my word for it.  Just realize that there is indeed a point where you should just toss your fruit in the compost pile.  And, if you are consistently getting moldy, too soft, or bruised looking fruit, just try eating it before you thought you should.  There’s room in the fruit world for some trial and error.  You don’t have to wait for the experts to tell you its ripe – just eat it and see for yourself.

Now your turn.  What do you think?  Am I on to something or am I late to the overripe fruit consensus?  Is there a type of fruit that you consistently and accidentally let over-ripen while waiting for perfection?  Leave your answers in the comments below. 

5 Responses to Overripe Fruit – Don’t Wait For Perfection

  1. What do you do with a small moldy spot on papayas? I’ve never tossed them but years ago I read where you really ought to toss all moldy fruit because the spores spread without you knowing it, which seems believeable. I realize fungal spores are everywhere and can’t be avoided, but it seems like eating them is not a good idea. BTW I don’t eat mushrooms.

    • Troy, the general consensus seems to be that soft fruit with mold could have it growing throughout the fruit whereas harder veggies and fruits are denser so the mold may not have traveled as far and could be more easily cut off. Papaya probably falls into the former category of soft fruit… That being said, I have many times in the past cut off the moldy part, peeled the whole thing, and blended it into a smoothie. I never noticed any effects on me or my digestion (not to say there aren’t unnoticeable consequences). Of course, someone with a mold allergy would want to just toss it.

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