Eat fruit at peak flavor
Pick up an apple and hold it to your ear. Can you hear it breathing?
Of course you can’t. But that apple, like any other harvested fruit or nut, is breathing, taking in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide just as you or I do.
The harvested apple is breathing because it’s still alive. If it stops breathing, it will die and taste bad. Being alive, an apple (or any other fruit) is always changing, and the job for us fruit lovers is to bite into it during the window of peak flavor.
TWO KINDS OF FRUITS
Back to the tree: As harvest time approached, sugars were developing and certain “volatiles,” or flavor components, began to form. At this point in a fruit’s life, we have to distinguish between two groups of fruits.
The first, called nonclimacteric fruits, and including such delicacies as cherries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries, undergoes a smooth transition from unripe to ripe to overripe. These fruits’ breathing slows down as ripening is approached and then passed. You pick them when they are perfectly ripe and then, ideally, eat them on the spot, because they’re not going to get any better.
Pears and apples are in the second group, climacteric fruits. As they approach maturity, their breathing also slows down. But then, just as peak flavor is developing, they begin panting heavily. This period of heavy panting