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Vitamin-rich tropical fruit – an antidote to coughs and colds

On grey winter days when everyone around you seems to be coughing and sneezing, the sunshine colours and healthy vitamin content of fruit like oranges, mangos, bananas and lemons are very welcome. But they need more careful handling than most of our tougher local fruit. "Zu gut für die Tonne!" (too good to bin!) campaigning against food waste offers tips for buying, storing ad using tropical fruit.

Buy it ripe or will it ripen at home?

Some kinds of fruit will continue to ripen after picking; these include bananas, papaya, kiwis, figs and mangos. With papayas, make sure they have some patches of yellow when you buy them. If they're still completely green they won't ripen at home. Pineapples and citrus fruits won't ripen off the tree, if they're unripe when they're picked, that's how they will stay. These signs can help you tell whether a pineapple is ripe – brown tips on the scales on the skin and a pleasant sweet smell if you take a sniff at the stalk end of the pineapple. Ripe pineapples give a little if you press them gently with a finger. Ripe clementines have a firm, glossy skin but the colour is not so important. This is because clementines need cold nights to turn orange, if the nights are too mild while they're still on the tree, they will stay greenish. If clementines are stored for too long, the skin can become leathery and air pockets can form between the skin and the fruit flesh. This can result in the fruit flesh drying out. Ripe oranges smell good and give a little under light finger pressure. Again, colour is not a very good indication of how ripe the fruit is.

Even if you're stuck with unripe citrus fruit, you don't have to bin it. Unripe fruit can be made into marmalade or used in cake baking. It gives a delicious acid kick to sweet food.

Tropical fruits are rather sensitive

Many tropical fruits have thickish skins and look pretty robust. But appearances are deceptive, they are very sensitive to pressure and shouldn't be stacked on top of each other. Pressure bruises on oranges will go mouldy quite quickly, for example. Tropical fruits don't like cold either – lemons loose their flavour, bananas turn brown and tasteless. So don't store tropical fruit in your fridge. The exceptions are figs, ripe kiwis and fruit that has been cut open. These should all go into the vegetable drawer of your fridge. In the fridge or out, tropical fruit will usually keep for several days. Bananas keep best if they are hung up.


Keep some sorts apart

Some fruit exudes ethylene, a gas that makes other fruit ripen faster – good – but also decay faster – not so good. If you can you should store each type of fruit separately. If that's too complicated, then at least keep fruits that produce a lot of ethylene, like apples, plums, tomatoes and apricots, away from most other fruit. It's also a good idea to store very ripe fruit separately from other fruit and to consume or process it as soon as possible.

Oranges, mangos and bananas can also be turned into juice and frozen. Fruit with high water content that can't be squeezed should simply be pureed before freezing. This makes them easier to use; if you try to freeze them whole they tend to go soggy.

Source: Zu gut für die Tonne