Which Fruits and Vegetables Continue to Ripen After Picking?

Peaches for sale at fruit stand
Peaches will continue to ripen after picking.

If you’re heading out to the market or a pick-your-own-fruit farm, how do you know which ones to choose? If you buy fruits or vegetables that are not quite ripe, will they continue to ripen over time at home?

Since every fruit is different and “ripe” can be defined in different ways, it’s difficult to give a definite yes or no answer. Every fruit undergoes changes after it’s picked, but that doesn’t mean it’s getting tastier.

Some fruits (like bananas) actually ripen and get sweeter after picking. Others (such as pineapple) will change color and soften, but really not get much sweeter. Some foods (like lemons) will sit there and do nothing until they rot.

Regardless of the science involved in the ripening process, the most important factor is whether you can buy or pick a fruit or vegetable before it’s ripe and allow it to ripen at home. To that end, here’s a list of common fruits and vegetables that should help you decide.

Foods that Continue to Ripen After Picking

Keep in mind that, with the exception of avocados, all fruits have the best flavor when picked ripe or almost ripe. However, the following fruits will continue to ripen and improve somewhat after picking:

    Cantaloupe for sale at fruit stand
    Cantaloupe will ripen after picking.
  • Apples (best if tree-ripened, but can be picked a week early for longer storage)
  • Apricots
  • Avocados (ONLY ripen after picking!)
  • Bananas (will ripen a great deal and can be picked green)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Foods That Should Be Ripe When Picked

These fruits are best picked fully ripe:

    Blueberries for sale at fruit stand
    Blueberries are best picked ripe.
  • Berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Cherries
  • Citrus (such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Olives
  • Peppers
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Summer Squash
  • Watermelon


  1. DESPITE CLAIMS ON MANY SITES THE PHYTOHORMONE, ETHYLENE (often suggested to put an apple in a bag with peppers as apples release ethylene gas)WILL NOT RIPEN PEPPERS. Peppers and other non-climacteric fruits are not affected by the Ethylene like Tomatoes, Apples, Bananas are. However if they were starting to ripen when picked, they may still turn colors, sugars may be released as the Peppers hard cell wall components break down and begin the process of rotting, thus perhaps they will be a bit sweeter until the rot gets serious.

  2. I know for a fact that pineapples do ripen after picking. I have never had a green pineapple that DIDN’T turn orange after a week or two.

  3. Rex just because the pineapple changed colors on the outside does not mean it ripened more than the day it was picked. I checked into multiple other resources and your “fact” is incorrect.

  4. I myself use pineapples daily and have seen them go from tart to sweet, the longer you’ve had them. So, from EXPERIENCE DAILY, Rex, you are correct.

  5. Like Rex and Sheshe, I know from experience that pineapples ripen after having been picked. Grocery stores rarely offer ripe pineapples- I usually let them sit for at least a week after purchasing them. When they become yellowish, I know they have become riper (more ripe?) and thus, sweeter.

  6. Grocer
    y stores rarely offer completely ripen fruit, unfortunately. Fruit must be picked in a semi-ripe state to ensure more safety in shipping. Store-bought tomatoes are absolutely awful!! No flavor, too hard. Peaches are picked way too early to be shipped out. Its too much consumerism and too little patience!!

  7. I live in a pineapple farming area (South Africa) an every farmer says that they may seem to ripen but do not. There are two kinds Queen and the smaller sweet one, they prefer to pick as late as poss but the stores want them….. but they dont really ripen they are getting almost fermented and and wont last long….As they say you can take a horse to the water but?
    To settle go to a agricultur site and get a scientific answer,But if you think the king has clothes on Then he has 😉

  8. The major over whelming benefit of vine ripened fruit is that it has a high content of “whole molecule vitamin C”, and not the ascorbic acid Vitamin C we all buy from the drug store, or the sodium ascorbate Vitamin C that is also available at the drug store. The health benefit of whole molecule C is tremendous. See book “The Calcium Lie II” by Dr. Robert Thompson, MD. He said oranges do not ripen after picked and therefore are vine ripened by definition, and has a very high whole molecule C.

    Fruit that is ripened after picked, has a very low content of whole molecule C.

  9. I asked what vegetables continue ripening after picking, but this sight only spoke about fruit. wanted to know if cabbage will continue ripening after it’s been picked. May ripening is not the right word. What I do know is that a heavy cabbage is not ready to be used verses a light cabbage.

  10. I can’t get the rich, golden lemons from a friend’s tree so I have to buy the pale ones from the store. Do they ripen as they stand in the bowl or do they, like mandarins, prefer to ripen in the fridge? I do know you can get more juice and zest from a lemon if you microwave it first.
    Thaks in advance for your answers.

  11. I got this info from Dole, the folks that grow/know pineapple since 1851:

    “Pineapples are picked when ripe and do not ripen after harvest. Select pineapples that are fresh looking. Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which leaves can be pulled out is not necessarily a sure sign of ripeness. Avoid fruit that is old looking, dry or with brown leaves. Avoid bruised fruit or those with soft spots.”


  12. I have read reports that many types of fruits and vegtables acquire most of there nutrients on the vine from the ground within 3 days of rippening and not so after they are picked in which then they only acquire more sugar. If they are picked earlier than that won’t they be lacking in some essential vitamins and nutrients?

  13. Pineapples do ripen after picking. Now the scientific folks seem to indicate otherwise, but I know always my pineapples (I get them six to eight in a box) as I leave them out instead of putting them in the fridge get much better. The first one always is too sour, but after each day each pineapple becomes sweeter.

  14. Just bought beautiful peaches a watermelon and red pears. Horrible after two days in a basket. Hard no juice all taste like cardboard. We have to pay w as t too much for this rip odd. Threw all of these in garbage

  15. The pineapple will appear to ripen for two reasons. The color change that everyone has mentioned and the sugar content is much higher in the bottom of the fruit. If you eat a bottom piece it will be quite sweet even if the top half is not ripe. This will make it seem that it suddenly ripened. Test this you will see.

  16. Donna:
    Grapefruit is usually ready by the end of December.
    You can pick them 45 days early and they will get juicier
    and sweeten up on their own. That is my experience

  17. i purchased a pineapple three weeks ago.today i cut and sliced to my amzement it had fermented anough that a few slices gave me slight buzz. it tasted great sweet less acid and did not burn mouth as usually does. is this unusual?

  18. jenny angeline:
    Put the peaches in a brown paper bag, cool (not cold!) place, check daily! Do not buy more than you can use in a day, or two at the most. Peaches WILL ripen, and they will be SUPER on ONE or TWO days! After that, they will turn to slush, ha ha ha!
    Hope this helps!

  19. Ha, Mark October
    This is why when you turn the pineapple upside down for a few days prior to cutting the whole pineapple taste really sweet.

  20. Blueberries may need picking “ripe”, but can be picked “nearly ripe” and will ripen fully in the cold pantry.

  21. The term ripen is the key word here folks. Pineapples do not ripen, they do transform (if that is the right term) for instance. Even if you have experienced “ripening” with some of the fruits that experts say don’t ripen, recheck you use of the correct terms.

  22. Bought green lemons from a market in Cyprus (there were no yellow ones around) and the last few turned yellow in my fruit basket.

  23. it is a fact that pineapple do ripe after harvest but it doesn’t add up the brix level (sugar level) we have different type of variety and the ripening process is characterized by the variety of the fruits. e.g. sugar loaf ripe when green

  24. i bought some zucchini at the dollar store. They are very hard. Is their anything I can do to make them softer or riper?

  25. We visited a pineapple farm in Hawaii they said green or yellow doesn’t matter look for the Rings to be consistent all the way to the top of the pineapple that’s how you know they’re ripe

  26. So when you find a greenish pineapple, leave it sitting out for a few days, and then when the color starts changing to yellowish on the bottom, whack off the leaves and turn it upside down in a saucer for a few more days. BOTH ends will be equally sweet! AND, even though anyone who has ever tried a greenish colored pineapple KNOWS it is awful, maybe that is still what growers consider “ripe” because PERHAPS (and I am only postulating here) it is just that pineapples must reach that point of showing even rings before they are ripe enough to pick, or they will just rot out if left sitting.

  27. This webpage is very clear. It is based on factual data, professional agricultural knowledge and scientific research. None of these facts are refuted by the predictable truckload of comments citing unexamined anecdotes as counterexamples (“Pineapples DO ripen”, “Green lemons turn YELLOW”, “Farts make fruit ripen TWICE as fast!!!”).

    But these comments do illustrate rather clearly the weakness of human intellect and the difficulty we have accepting informed opinions that contradict our assumptions or experience. I humbly submit that this level of boneheaded obstinacy and this refusal to think beyond appearances is precisely why Anglo-Saxon countries on both sides of the Atlantic are currently going through a period of epistemological nihilism, moral relativism and political cynicism.

    There’s no shame in being told something you didn’t or couldn’t know. Expertise makes our lives *better*.

  28. To add my 2cents to the remarks re pineapples: Irrespective of the color (generally) I find pushing on the pineapple in the middle will let you know that they are ripe if they depress without much effort. If they depress very much they are “overripe”….. or very close thereto
    From Pineapple experiences in Florida, Hawaii, Indonesia, Malaysia and the ubiquitous Wal-Mart!

  29. Define ripen. Peaches will soften, but will nit get sweeter. My own experience plus candid conversations with growers confirm this. If you want a ripe peach you must probably grow it yourself.

  30. I’ m beginning to think that the temperature at which fruits are transported has a definite effect on them, Buying peaches lately, allowing them to ripen at room temperature either in or out of a paper bag, then finding the inside darkened and quite hard. I keep receipts til no longer necessary and return the product as soon as I can. I think they’ve been transported at freezing or near freezing temperatures. Am I wrong?

  31. Pineapples today are shipped to the store in a totally unripe condition. It is no longer possible to enjoy one of the most delicious fruits. It is difficult to understand the mentality that would ship them when they are still totally dark green and often just white on the inside. The modern generation seems to be totally unaware of the characteristics of a ripe pineapple. I can remember when pineapples were totally gold and you could smell the sweet aroma as you walked past the pineapple stand.

  32. I often buy unripe pineapples and ripen them on the counter. I’m not sure why pineapple is listed as something to buy only when ripe.

    Plums often do not ripen. I have had plums for three weeks that still are not ripe. Often they get a fungus or rot before they ripen.

  33. On the ripe pineapples… Of course if they are green and have no give outside they are not ripe. But tug on a few leaves on top and if they come off easily then you usually have a very good pineapple. Sniff its ass; if it smells sweet, buy it. If the leaves are dry and brown, don’t bother. Persimmons should feel like a balloon when you handle a perfect one. Most people buy them way too hard and are not patient enough for them to ripen. Most produce clerks don’t understand that they are ripe in this state and throw them out. That is why it is so difficult to find a ripe persimmon. The heaviest watermelon for its size is usually the sweetest. If you want to thump it, listen for a low pitch and not a “ping.” Sometimes stone fruit (with a hard seed) will never ripen. Closed brown paper bags will ripen green bananas very quickly, and as far as making hard zucchini soft… use a hammer.

  34. One more thing… most people don’t realize their apples are picked in late fall and remain in oxygen-proof storage over the winter, spring and summer. That is why your winter apples are so much more sweeter than the same apple in summer.


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