Knowing how to ripen fruits to get the maximum flavor is the first step in learning to preserve foods at home. It’s not enough to simply pick the very best looking produce from your garden or supermarket. You want to ripen it optimally before you can, freeze or dry it. Do you want a head start on serving the perfect dinner? Learn how to select the best wrapping materials to benefit ripening.
Although citrus fruits are ripe when picked, many other fruits either do not ripen naturally on the tree, or they are picked green for safe transporting and storage. You probably have on hand the two main items for ripening most fruits at home: a brown paper bag and an apple or banana. Apples and bananas release a natural plant hormone called ethylene which induces the ripening process in nearby fruits. Sealing up unripe fruits in a paper bag along with the apple or banana captures the ethylene gases. Add an apple to your homemade brown paper bag envelope, and your peaches, plums and nectarines will ripen faster together.
How many times have you wanted to make guacamole dip or dressing but have not had one ripe avocado?
Those hard, green avocados sitting at room temperature on your kitchen counter will take 4-5 days to ripen. Avocados do not ripen on the tree, so those bins at the grocery store are bound to be filled with stiff avocados. To get your avocados to ripen in two days, wrap them up in a paper bag with an apple or banana.
Mangoes, likewise, are harvested before they are ripe. If you do not see those tell-tale black dots on the outer skins that let you know the fruit is ripe, put the mangoes in a paper bag and let ripen at room temperature. This time you can just pop in the mangoes themselves, without the apple, since two or more mangoes release enough ethylene to do the job. If it is very hot and humid, store the bag on a cool shelf.
Every gardener wants to see his last green tomato from the end of the harvest ripen. There are a handful of ways to wrap and ripen these fruits. Tomatoes with a little red color will ripen better, but you can try this on green tomatoes as well. Put some tomatoes in a brown paper bag that is folded at the top to prevent creatures from entering. You can even ripen tomatoes in a plastic bag punched with air holes if you put them in an area with little humidity and no sunlight. A larger amount of tomatoes can be carefully placed in a single layer in a cardboard box with lid. Or the tomatoes can be wiped clean with a dry cloth, individually wrapped in newspaper and placed blossom side down in a dark, dry warm box or on a shelf. Check frequently to find any rotten tomatoes and to select your ripe ones. If you place an already ripening magical apple or banana with the tomatoes in a bag, check these daily because they will ripen fast! Depending on the warmth of the room and on how green the tomato is, the unripe tomatoes will ripen in days to weeks.
The key to fully flavored fruits, then, is to get them to ripen perfectly before you use them. Place your hard-as-a-stone pears and kiwis in a paper bag, plastic bag with holes, box with lid, and even newspaper. Jump start the ripening with an ethylene-emitting apple or speckled banana and prepare to use in a couple of days.