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It’s happened to everyone: you buy a delicious-looking avocado or cantaloupe at the store only to get it home and find out that it’s overripe and mushy. The store may or may not provide a refund, and it’s a hassle to even try. You've wasted time and money and might have to replan your recipe.

What if there’s a better way? If you know the tricks and techniques the pros use to identify perfectly ripe fruit , you'll save money, pick the best produce over and over, and avoid food and money going to waste.

Watermelons

Watermelons are a great addition to a healthy diet, high in cholesterol-lowering nutrients. They can be tricky to select because of their solid rind, but there are a few telltale signs of a ripe watermelon. When unripe, watermelons are quite shiny, but ripe watermelons look more matte or dull.

The side of a watermelon that rested on the ground as it grew tends to be paler than the rest—when this pale spot looks more yellow than green, the watermelon is ready to eat. If you're buying a pre-cut watermelon, look for bright red flesh that is not pale or whitish, which can indicate that it was picked too late.

Red ripe watermelon cut in half on a pile of ripe watermelons in the field.

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Strawberries

Strawberries are a delicious snack that can lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk. This sweet/tart fruit should be bright red, shiny, and firm. Unripe strawberries tend to look white or pale pink. Strawberries that are past their prime will be soft, shrunken, or moldy.

Summer is the best time to buy flavorful, fresh strawberries.

A clay plate of ripe fresh strawberries held in hands Yevgeniia Vradii / Getty Images

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Apples

High in fiber and heart-healthy nutrients, apples are one of the most commonly available fruits in grocery stores throughout the U.S. Apples must already be mature when picked, so immature apples, which are pale, colorless, or shriveled, are unlikely to ever be good to eat.

Ready-to-eat apples should still be very firm—if the fruit is soft or the skin breaks easily, it is starting to spoil.

Cropped shot of female hand picking up an apple from the product aisle in the store. Oscar Wong / Getty Images

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Apricots

Apricots are stone fruits, a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Like apples. they don't ripen off the vine so they have to be ripe when picked.

Firm or greenish apricots were picked too early and will not taste sweet. A perfectly ripe apricot will be uniformly golden in color and slightly soft but not mushy.

Apricot in human hand, wooden crate of harvested fruit as blurry background Zbynek Pospisil / Getty Images

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Cherries

Sweet varieties of cherry, rather than tart cherries used in baking, should be dark red or black. Ripe cherries will look shiny and have bright green stems.

Cherries still on the stem will stay fresh longer. Cherries that are past their ideal freshness can look dull, shriveled, or brown.

Close up of hands full of fresh picked organic cherries Silvia Bianchini / Getty Images

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Avocados

Although they are typically used in savory dishes, avocados are actually a fruit! Ripe avocados are usually brownish as opposed to green.

The best way to identify a perfectly ripe avocado is by its softness—a good avocado will have slight give when gently pressed, but not be too solid or too soft. It’s okay to buy a too-firm avocado at the store because it will ripen in the next few days; just be sure to keep a close eye on it, since they're notorious for rushing from under-ripe to over-ripe!

Woman choosing avocados in supermarket Oscar Wong / Getty Images

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Bananas

Bananas are an affordable, portable, sweet source of potassium, which has been linked to reduced risk of stroke and high blood pressure. They're an easy fruit to properly select because their color changes so dramatically.

Green or greenish yellow bananas are not yet ripe, while brown bananas are too ripe. Bananas that are solid yellow or yellow with a few brown spots are ripe. Bananas that look grayish were likely exposed to cold during shipping or storage and will not be good to eat.

woman holding banana in the grocery store iprogressman / Getty Images

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Grapefruits

A ripe grapefruit will seem heavy for its size. Grapefruits that are flavorful and juicy tend to be round rather than having a pointed shape near the stem and will have fairly smooth skin that is not wrinkled or rough.

Generally, under-ripe grapefruits are not a concern because, like all citrus fruit, they won't ripen once they've been pulled from the tree.

Fresh Grapefruit Nenov / Getty Images

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Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes are a summer fruit that are sweet without being high in calories. Ripe cantaloupes look slightly yellowish instead of green and will smell sweet even before they’re cut. They should be very slightly soft.

Cantaloupes that were picked too early will still have part of the stem attached and will not be good to eat. Overripe cantaloupes will be very yellow and soft.

Close-Up Of Cantaloupe On Table Rermrat Kaewpukdee / EyeEm / Getty Images

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Grapes

Grapes are rich in healthy nutrients like vitamin K and phytochemicals and are associated with lower levels of inflammation. Grapes that are good to eat will still be attached to the stem when sold, and the stems will be green and flexible.

White and green grapes should look yellowish, while red grapes should be solidly red rather than pale or brown. Soft or squishy grapes are overripe.

A photo of green grapes on a Spanish market.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.