Pineapple: We prefer Costa Rican–grown pineapples (also labeled “extra-sweet” or “gold”), which are consistently “honey-sweet” in comparison to the “acidic” Hawaiian pineapples with greenish (not yellow) skin. Pineapples will not ripen further once picked, so be sure to purchase golden, fragrant fruit that gives slightly when pressed. Store unpeeled pineapples at room temperature.
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Carambola: This oblong, five-ribbed fruit is commonly called star fruit. Its crisp, yellowish-green skin is nearly translucent, and its “fragrant, juicy” flesh is dotted with seeds. Carambola’s flavor is like a “diluted” combination of “plum, tangerine, and cucumber.” Look for taut-skinned, fragrant fruits that yield to gentle pressure. Store at room temperature and slice and add to salads or desserts.
Kiwi: Though native to China, this brown, egg-shaped fruit is so named because it was first commercially grown in New Zealand. Beneath its furry skin lies brilliant green or gold flesh studded with tiny, crunchy black seeds. Its flavor is “sweet-tart” and “berrylike,” and it has a “firm but juicy” texture. Kiwis will ripen at room temperature and can be refrigerated for up to three weeks.
Mango: Native to Southeast Asia, mangos have “sweet, floral, and silky-smooth” flesh that clings to a large, flat pit. To prepare a mango, trim one end flat, stand the fruit upright, and slice around the pit on either side. (Alternatively, mango splitters, which are similar to apple corers, cost about 10 dollars and work very well.) Mangos are very fragrant when ripe; they will ripen at room temperature.
Durian: Most westerners consider this Southeast Asian fruit an acquired taste. Once cut, it boasts a “powerfully sulfurous scent” similar to “very strong, very ripe cheese.” Its flavor, however, is another matter; tasters liked the “eggnog” character and also praised the “puddinglike” texture. Ripe durian will be fragrant and give slightly when pressed. Use within a day or two of purchase.