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Unbroken's avatar

How do you know specific fruits and vegetables are unconsummable?

Asked by Unbroken (9382 points ) February 28th, 2013

This seems to be the year of questionable produce. In light of that and to prevent unnecessary tossage I thought I would enlist the more experienced brains on this.

For instance I usually throw away avocados when I open them up and they are significantly shot threw with black lines. But if I were to open it up and leave it it would brown. If I covered it with lemon or citrus it would be perfectly fine. So is there something unhealthy about the color brown.

Banana’s I would toss in the freezer for various recipes so part of me wonders if this ok. But then I realize the acidity of a banana changes as it overripens, what are some of the other changes taking place?

If I open an apple and there were brown spots on it, I would trim the spots off. But if I cut an apple, didn’t eat it right away and had it in a bag in the fridge I would just eat the brown.

Mangos are another bag of questions. There are many other examples I didn’t include. Feel free to address these.

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7 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Not many of the things you describe affect the actual edibility of the stuff. The black lines in avocados usually mean that it’s the fruit of a young tree. Almost all browning in fruits is the result of enzymatic action, not spoilage (although mold will quickly start growing there).

But there is a significant gross-out factor to those blemishes. I can talk myself into eating a big brown blotch on a banana, but not without choking back a “Ewww!”

First world problem.

I draw the line at mold and insect damage.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it’s mostly a matter of taste, and somewhat a matter of safety. I’ve eaten moldy stuff, accidentally. I don’t like getting a bite of worm in my fruit, but it’s not going to kill me. The mold, I think, might be harmful.

The browning is not a health issue, but as fruits overripen they might start to turn alcoholic. That shouldn’t kill you, but it will change the taste.

The really bad thing, I guess, is E-coli. From what I understand, fruit that has been lying around on the ground can be more contaminated with E-coli—to the extent that consuming them might make you pretty sick. This is what I’ve heard. I’m not sure how significant a problem it is.

But if we eat clean, fresh fruit, without spots and insect damage, that is at the right ripeness, we’re happy, usually. Some of us like things on the under ripe side, and some of us like things a little over ripe. That’s a matter of taste.

The avocado black lines are a sign of overripeness. To my taste, the avocado turns to a much less pleasant flavor. Also, the black changes the texture. You get all these strings in the fruit, and I really don’t like that. I’ll scrape out meat from between the strings, but mostly, I try not to let the avocados get that far, by putting them in the fridge once they are ripe. That will hold them for a few days.

Shippy's avatar

I would say if they have mold on them. Or a worm around!

rooeytoo's avatar

I think we have been brainwashed to think that fruit has to look perfect in color and shape to be good. I buy most of my fruit and veg from the guy who grows it. It often looks not very pretty but tastes wonderful because it has been left on the branch to ripen before it is picked. And it isn’t sprayed with a million poisons to kill or repel insects. It probably will have brown spots and could be misshapen. In most cases I prefer the older breeds of fruit because they have not been bred to be the perfect shape to pack in a box.

I don’t worry too much about getting anything bad from fruit or veg, wash them and eat them! I don’t like overly ripe produce though, I prefer to purchase when it is a day from ripeness and then enjoy it at its prime.

Unbroken's avatar

@thorninmud Good point about first world problem. Indeed the EW factor works for me when I am picking fruit, vegetables and berries. Though I got this pretty young in the village that was not first world. So, huh. Maybe through my mother. I still do follow a lot of her rules about spoilage though they make no sense to me. Thanks for explaining to me about the enzymes a little.

@wundayatta Good point about the fridge. I try to do this but sometimes I forget to check or misjudge. Sometimes I feel like a mystic divining the ratio of time left to ripen versus the over ripe stuff.

@Shippy Short and to the point. I guess it depends on the purpose of produce. But I have to be a little more picky. Trying to get over my pickiness about worms. They say it is just protein and we are what we eat.

@rooeytoo That sounds divine. I miss picking fresh produce, even though that is mostly a foreign concept to me. I do agree store bought produce is getting progressively less flavorful it is such a shame.

wundayatta's avatar

@rosehips Yeah, we mess up on avocados all the time, too. It’s hard to judge ripeness right without cutting it open.

Unbroken's avatar

Ugh yeah the last 5 I opened were moldy!

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