Eat fruit at peak fla­vor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Lee Re­ich

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

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