Due to its color, flavor, and aroma, the fruit is an attractive food and is well accepted by most of the population. Especially in spring and summer, which is when there is more variety and we find the most refreshing, as we must not forget that its main component is water and they help to hydrate us. As a group of vegetables, they are irreplaceable in the diet due to their high nutritional density and low energy density, which is why it is recommended to take three servings of fruit a day.
We do not always find ripe fruit on the market, in its optimal state of maturity. In fact, it is common to see quite green fruit. Climacteric fruits must be differentiated from non-climacteric fruits since the former can continue to ripen once separated from the plant (apple, banana, peach, …), and the latter cannot (citrus, cherry, grape, …).
- Climacteric and non-climacteric fruits
- Nutritional differences between green fruit and ripe fruit
- How to take advantage of ripe fruit
Climacteric and non-climacteric fruits
For this reason, climacteric fruits are harvested before full ripening and even somewhat green, since it is considered that they can continue to ripen afterward, in the warehouse under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity, or already at the consumer’s home. For this reason, it is necessary to calculate the transport, storage, and distribution time before harvesting.
During its growth, the fruit breathes, that is, it picks up O2 and releases CO2, and this phenomenon, which is initially very high, slowly decreases to the appropriate state of maturity. But, in some fruits it increases again after this decrease, increasing the ripening process again. This is because, with respiration, a gaseous compound called ethylene is formed, which accelerates this process. And this is what happens in the case of climacteric fruits.
Nutritional Differences Between Green Fruit and Ripe Fruit
During ripening, the fruit undergoes changes both organoleptic and biochemical. As the ripe fruit loses firmness, its color varies, as well as its content of sugars, organic acids, and volatile compounds, which will affect the flavor and aroma. The most notable changes are:
- Increase in sugars. One of the most notable differences between green fruit and ripe fruit is the sugar content, which increases as the degree of ripening progresses. In large part because the starch, very present in the green fruit, is degrading to glucose, enhancing the sweet taste of the ripe fruit.
- The decrease in organic acids. Other changes that occur are related to organic acids, such as malic acid or citric acid are those which provide acid flavor to the green fruit, and they decrease with ripening. On the other hand, phenolic acids, which have an antioxidant effect and are responsible for the astringent property of fruits such as green persimmon, sometimes disappear when ripe. This supposes a decrease in acidity, and therefore the ripe fruit has a milder and less acidic flavor than the green one.
- Variation of vitamins and minerals. The content of these nutrients can also be affected by ripening, although it will depend on the varieties of fruit and growing conditions. Specifically, the vitamin C of citrus fruits can decrease.
- Increase in natural pigments. The color of the fruit varies greatly in the ripening process. There is a decrease in its chlorophyll content and an increase in the synthesis of natural pigments. Increases the content of carotenoids, which give a yellow-orange-red color to fruits such as mango, orange, apricot, or peach. They are interesting for health because, for example, beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, is a precursor to vitamin A and has antioxidant properties that slow down cell aging. Anthocyanins also appear, which give a red-purple-blue color to fruits such as blueberries or cherries, and like carotenoids, they also have antioxidant action.
How to Take Advantage Of Ripe Fruit
The fruit can be taken at any time of the day, and the most appropriate thing is to take it fresh since a priori it does not require any culinary process that improves its digestibility. Sometimes we find ourselves with excess fruit at home that, either because we have bought too much, or because it has been consumed less, has become overripe, and we enter the dilemma of not knowing what to do with it. We can take superiority of it to do:
- Jam, jam, or compote. Jam or confiture is the traditional way to take advantage of ripe fruit or excess production. In general, jams are fruits that have been chopped and cooked with sugar until they are pureed with some pieces of fruit. Jams are fruits, whole or chopped, cooked with a syrup. For this reason, jams have a higher proportion of sugar. On the other hand, there is compote, a sweet dessert that is also made by boiling fruit, whole or chopped, in water and with sugar, but in a much smaller quantity than is used in jam.
- Creamy ice creams or homemade fruit slushies. An example would be the banana and strawberry ice cream, in which a ripe banana, 8-10 strawberries, and orange juice are mixed and crushed in a bowl; once the creamy texture is left, pour it into a mold and put it in the freezer. Depending on the texture of the fruit, you can get ice cream or ice cream. To promote creaminess, you can add creamy yogurt, whipped fresh cheese or avocado, as well as other ingredients for flavor, such as cocoa or nuts, sesame seeds, etc.
- Smoothies. Combining fruit with vegetables to make popular smoothies can be another good way to take advantage of leftover fruit. In addition, it is a refreshing option that also helps promote the consumption of vegetables.
- Fruit smoothies. Dairy smoothies with fruit tend to have many fans in summer. With a milky base of milk, yogurt, kefir, or whipped fresh cheese, they are nutritious shakes, but not excessively caloric.