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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

We all want to shop for the ripest fruit we can find. Or do we? In some cases, the ripest fruit is not the best buy. In fact, in some cases it should be avoided.

To understand why, we first need to delve into the complexities of ripeness and maturity. And while we’re at it, let’s think a little about climacteric fruits.

Ripeness and maturity are separate but linked processes. Think of it this way: Maturity is when the fruit has assembled all the building blocks necessary to create flavor; ripeness is the process by which those blocks are assembled into something greater. When fruit is maturing, it’s developing sugar as well as all the chemical compounds that will eventually make it delicious.

Ripening is a little more complicated — it’s a bell curve that begins with hard green fruit and ends with rot. During that process, the cell walls of the fruit soften, allowing the various separate chemical compounds to mingle, turning what was once simple flavor into a perfume that’s much more complex and grand.

Some fruits mature and ripen at the same time. Citrus, berries, cucumbers, and grapes, for example, will only ripen while they’re on the plant.

But other fruits — apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, tomatoes, and some melons — will continue to ripen after they’ve been picked. We call these climacteric fruits (this is a rough outline; botanists take a somewhat more nuanced view).

This is important because one key part of the ripening process for most fruits is softening. And with softness comes vulnerability. Fruit that is completely ripe is fragile and can be damaged very easily.

So there you are at the farmers market, pawing through a wooden bin full of peaches. You’re probably not the first to do this and besides, someone had to dump them in there in the first place.

Do you want a piece of fruit that is perfectly ripe at that moment? There’s a very high probability that it is going to be beat up and bruised.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to wait a day or two, you can pick a piece of fruit that may feel firm now — and thus is much less likely to be damaged — but that nevertheless will become fully ripe without you having to do anything.

There are ways you can speed up the ripening of climacteric fruit (put it in a paper bag, add an apple or banana), but if left alone at room temperature, the fruit will take care of itself.

One big caution — ripening of climacteric fruit stops when the fruit is chilled. So store them at cool room temperature, not in the refrigerator.

Photo: Loren Javier via Flickr

Donald Trump Jr.

Screenshot from Twitter

You've probably heard about Donald Trump's claim that his Democratic rival got "a big fat se onhot in the ass" before delivering a nearly perfect performance on a recently televised town hall. Or his more recent demand that Joe Biden get a "drug test" before their debate on Tuesday night. Having spent months lowering expectations for Biden, the Trumps are now busily defaming him as a junkie.

But that particular slur backfired spectacularly over the weekend when the Trump campaign posted a bizarre video of Don Jr. -- seemingly in a condition that called for rehab services. As his father might put it, "many people are saying" that the presidential spud looked and sounded like someone abusing a controlled substance. (His slurred message was disturbed too, something about an "army of able-bodied men and women" to intimidate voters).

It's both funny and sad to watch Don Jr. decompensate on Twitter. (More funny, though.)

Click and judge his condition for yourself.