How to Tell When 8 Fruits Are At Their Tastiest

iStock
iStock

Fruit is a high risk, high reward game. A bright juicy strawberry is the epitome of summer but too often you spring for produce only to get home and find your fruit only looks good—if that. To help prevent that post-purchase regret, we've rounded up some tips for picking the ripest, most delicious summer fruit.

1. Pineapple

iStock

Don't judge a pineapple by its color—even a green pineapple could be perfectly ripe on the inside. When judging appearances, look for one that seems fresh with bright green leaves and a sturdy shell. But the real test is in the smell. Give the pineapple a whiff—it should smell sweet and like, well, a pineapple. If you can't smell anything at all, that particular one probably isn't ready yet; if it has a sharp, vinegar-y smell it's overripe. Once you've picked the best pineapple, eat it quickly, because they don’t ripen after they get picked.

2. Strawberry

The rule with strawberries is: If it's not bright red, it's probably not sweet and delicious—but the corollary doesn't apply. Just because a strawberry looks straight out of a staged summer catalog doesn't mean it will taste good. Strawberries continue to redden, but not ripen, once they've been harvested, so the color will change but not the flavor. How do you make sure you're not succumbing to the false advertising of a ruby red, unripe batch? Just like with pineapples, the proof is in the scent. Check for the pint that smells the sweetest and you should avoid wasting money on flavorless fruit.

3. Melon

Be it cantaloupe or honeydew or watermelon, the tough rind of melons makes them particularly tricky to get a read on. First, as with all fruit, make sure the visible parts are relatively blemish-free, even though you can't see what you'll actually be eating on a melon. Smooth melons, like watermelon or honeydew, should be matte rather than shiny (which usually indicates under-ripe fruit) and textured melons like cantaloupe should be golden orange underneath the "netting" (unlike the green one above). As with all fruit, check for a sweet smell to rule out unripe options. The final test comes down to a weigh-in. Ripe melons will feel especially heavy for their size, so pick through the pile and compare like-spheres to get the juiciest fruit. If it's a watermelon, go a step further and give the outer shell a tap. Ripe watermelon will sound hollow inside.

4. Cherries

iStock

First of all, it matters what kind of cherry you're dealing with. If you're in the market for the pink-and-gold Rainier cherry, don't let the yellow coloring turn you off. However, when it comes to sweet red cherries, you want to look for highly-saturated, deep reds. If there's still a stem attached it should be bright green. And avoid cherries with wrinkles around the area where the stem meets the fruit.

5. Peaches

The color of the skin will depend largely on which part of the peach receives the most direct sunlight, so don't wait for those yellow patches to turn red. However, peaches with green or white spots—check near the stems, in particular—won't be ripe for a few more days. And of course, give a (very light!) squeeze to confirm ripeness.

6. Mangoes

First, don't worry about color. Mangoes come in a range of colors that vary based on things that have nothing to do with quality. The only way to really tell if a mango is ripe is to see if it gives a little when you touch it.

7. Avocados

As with mangoes, coloration is not particularly informative when it comes to judging an avocado. Fortunately, there's a clear and simple test for finding out if your avocado is ripe before cutting into it. All you have to do is pull off the stem nub or cap at the end of the avocado. If it falls off easily to reveal a green patch underneath, you're good to go. If it's hard to remove, the avocado likely isn't ripe yet, and if it leaves behind a brown patch the fruit is already past its prime. (Note: be prepared for angry looks for flicking the stems off avocados in the store).

8. Tomatoes

iStock

You want deeply saturated, firm flesh with just a slight give when it comes to selecting a prime tomato. Get an idea of just how flavorful it will be by giving it a whiff—the best ones have a sweet, woody smell. And beware of any wrinkles, which indicate produce that has been left out at room temperature for too long.

12 Perfectly Spooky Halloween Decorations Under $25

Amazon/shopDisney
Amazon/shopDisney

Halloween is right around the corner—which means it’s officially time to bring out the jack-o'-lanterns, watch scary movies, buy your costume(s), and hang up your festive decorations. Although there are thousands of decorations to choose from, you don’t have to blow your budget while decking out your house or apartment in honor of the spooky season this year. With a little guidance, you'll find plenty of ways to create the perfect ambiance at home without going for broke. (And best of all, you can put the money you saved toward extra Halloween candy to stash away.)

From giant spiders to hanging ghosts and lawn decorations, here are a few of our favorite props under $25.

1. Halloween Pillow Covers (4-Pack); $17

ZJHAI/Amazon

These adorable Halloween-themed pillowcases make the perfect accessory for any couch, sofa, or mattress. Made with thick linen fabric, these are durable, sturdy, and designed to last for seasons to come. (Tip: To prevent the zipper from breaking, fold the pillow in half before inserting.)

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black Lace Spiderweb Fireplace Mantle; $12

Aerwo/Amazon

This versatile spiderweb prop is made with 100-percent polyester, and its knit lace spiderweb pattern adds a spooky touch to any home. Display it on your doorway, across your fireplace mantel, or atop your table. (It also makes a great backdrop for Halloween photo ops.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Statement Halloween Signs; $16

Dazonge/Amazon

These festive, statement-making banners come pre-assembled, making them incredibly easy to install. They’re also weather-resistant and washable for both outdoor and indoor use. Use tape, push-pins, or weights to prevent the signs from blowing away.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Jack Skellington and Sally Plush Dolls; $23 (Each)

Disney

Celebrate your favorite holiday with a pair of adorable Jack Skellington and Sally plush dolls from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack stands at 28 inches tall, while Sally is a bit shorter at 21 inches. Set them up on your sofa or against the window sill for all to see.

Buy them: Disney Shop (Jack and Sally)

5. Halloween Zombie Groundbreaker; $22

Joyin/Amazon

This spooktacular zombie lawn decoration is sure to scare all of your friends, family, and neighbors alike. Made with a combination of latex, plastic, and fabric, this durable Halloween prop is sure to last for years to come.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Hanging Ghost Decoration; $14

Moon Boat/Amazon

Drape this handmade, 14-foot-long hanging ghost decoration over your porch, doorway, or window. You can also hang it outdoors over a tree or a (very tall) bush. And, since it comes pre-assembled, you won’t have to waste time constructing it yourself.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Two-Piece Hanging Ghost Set; $17

GeeFuun/Amazon

This pair of ghosts adds a whimsical touch to any home. While they’re not “scary,” per se, they certainly are adorable. Display them in your front yard, on your porch, on a lamppost, or a tree. To hang, simply tie the ribbons and bend the wires, arms, and tails.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Pumpkin String Lights; $19

Eurus Home/Amazon

Not only are these solar-powered, 33-foot-long LED string lights good for the environment, they’re also incredibly easy to install (no long, tangly power cable chords necessary). Since they’re waterproof, you can use them both indoors and outdoors. Choose from eight different light settings, including twinkling, flashing, fading, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Inflatable Ghost; $22

Joiedomi/Amazon

This adorable inflatable ghost (which dons a cute-as-can-be wizard hat!) features built-in LED lights and sandbags to help it stay sturdy. It also comes complete with a plug, extended cords, ground stakes, and fastened ropes. Simply plug it in and watch it magically inflate within just a few minutes.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Graveyard Tombstones; $17

meiguisha/Amazon

Turn your front lawn into a graveyard with this six-piece set. Each tombstone is made with foam and designed to add a touch of spookiness to your space. To install, insert one holder into the bottom of the tombstone, and one into the soil. You can use these indoors, as well.

Buy it: Amazon

11. 10-Piece Skeleton Set; $24

Fun Little Toys/Amazon

This skeleton set includes a skull, hands and arms, and legs and feet—plus five stakes to hold everything in place. Each “bone” and “joint” is flexible, allowing you to prop the skeleton into different frighteningly fun poses. Simply place the stakes into the bone socket and turn clockwise.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Outdoor Spider Web; $18

amenon/Amazon

This giant, ultra-stretchy spider web spans a whopping 23 feet. It also includes a 30-inch black spider, 20 pieces of fake spiders, one hook, and one nail. Its thick polyester rope—combined with the sturdy stakes—allows the spider web to stay in place all season long. Place the hook on a wall or tree, and expand the web using the stakes.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Make a Holiday Feast Fit for the Crawleys With the New Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook

Dine as lavishly as the Earl of Grantham this holiday season with the Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook.
Dine as lavishly as the Earl of Grantham this holiday season with the Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook.
Focus Features

For Downton Abbey fans, the holidays probably haven't felt quite the same ever since the show's final Christmas episode—and series finale—aired back in 2015. But if you miss the drama, the opulence, and the familiarity of your favorite upper-crust period drama, you can try your best to recreate it with The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook, which is available for pre-order on Amazon for $31.

The publisher, Weldon Owens, has already released similar books to bring viewers closer to the Crawley clan, such as The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook ($23), The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook ($16), and The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book ($17). And this new Christmas edition preps you for an upscale holiday dinner, complete with recipes taken from actual vintage cookbooks. You can start your feast with a bowl of pheasant soup before digging into Yorkshire Christmas pie and finishing it all off with the traditional figgy pudding.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Along with the directions, you'll get bits of history about each dish and how it relates to the world of Downton Abbey. You’ll learn more about the different holiday traditions and get to relive memorable moments from the series along with quotes from the characters.

Weldon Owens/Amazon

The new Christmas cookbook is now available for pre-order on Amazon and will arrive on October 27.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.