Rolando here. I’m going to be doing more posts about the decisions we all make in the kitchen. First up, ripening. We deal with ripening here. We don’t add a ton of stuff to our fruits and vegetables, so we need them to be ripe and sweet. I realized that I needed to teach ripening to the Clover kitchen staff because I kept finding unripe fruit in the walk-in.
Ripening is the process where starches get converted into sugar. That process makes foods more desirable (sweeter and softer) to animals eating them (like us!). When some fruit is picked, it gives off ethylene gas, which helps in the ripening process. And heat increases ethylene production. Which is why, in the summer, things ripen faster. And it’s also why you might put something in a paper bag to ripen it (the gases get contained in the bag).
A lot of fruits, including tomatoes and stone fruits, are picked before they’re fully ripe to allow for transport. After that, there is a tiny sweet spot (period of time), where the fruit is ripe with minor imperfections. It’s then that we can start cutting it up or stick it in the walk-in for a day to stop ripening. As the days pass, the imperfections increase as the fruit moves from unripe to ripe to composting (rotting). Obviously if we use the fruit at that perfect time, we can add less (or no) sugar, etc that way. So you may see Eddy and others making decisions, whether to refrigerate the fruit or let it ripen at room temperature on the ripening table. Just takes a little attention and awareness.