Bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to choosing fruit. I recently got my mind blown by a tour guide who gave the ultimate lesson on how to choose the juiciest, most delicious fruit once and for all. Take this trick with you and I guarantee you will never be stuck with a bad fruit ever again!

First thing’s first, ripeness isn’t the only indicator of a fruit’s deliciousness. You also need to be aware of the sex of the fruit. Fruits come in male and female. Whaat?

Generally, you want to go for the female ones. That’s because even though the males may be bigger in size, it’s the female fruits that have softer, less fibrous, sweeter, and juicer flesh, as well as smaller pits.

How do you tell the male and female fruits apart? In most cases, invert the fruit and take a look at the belly button. This would work for pears, apples, and many of the other common fruits of the Western hemisphere. The males have some hair there. The females have small, innie belly buttons without hair. A good way to remember this is “men have beards.”

male and female pears
LEFT:  Here we have a pear. Tip it upside down to find the belly button
RIGHT: If the belly button has hair (formerly a little flower), the fruit is a male. If it doesn’t have hairs and is quite small, the fruit is a female.

For fruits that don’t come without obvious belly buttons, such as in the case of mangoes or papayas, look at the shape of the fruit. The females have rounder ends and a smooth graduation of thickness from ends to middle. On the other hand, the males have pointier ends than the females, and there is a big bulge in the middle of the fruit that goes up more angularly than gradually.

male and female mangoes.jpg
LEFT: Notice how a female mango has rounder edges.
RIGHT: The male mango is longer than the female one, so it has a giant pit and lots of fibers to get stuck in between your teeth.

True story, I once picked up a bunch of mangoes, and went for the biggest ones, ’cause the bigger the better, right? Boy was I mistaken when I opened the fruits up and discovered a giant seed inside each big, pointy mango. Because my fellow shopping mates had taken all the big ones at the fruit stand, I was left with no choice but to also pick up just one smaller, rounder mango. Lucky me, because that one small mango tasted absolutely the juiciest, sweetest, and smoothest of them all. Try the male and female side-by-side test, and I swear you will never look back!

Test this trick out next time you go shopping for fruits, and comment with your findings!

As a bonus, here’s a guide to the more specific things to watch out for when it comes to some fruits that are a little more “exotic.”

  • Dragon fruit: From experience, I have found the vibrant ones are the sweetest. The ones that tinge yellow are more bland (though one fruit vendor told me otherwise). Slightly squishy when squeezed indicates optimal ripeness.
  • Mangosteens: The slightly squeezable ones are the ripe ones. The hard as rock ones are not ripe yet.
  • Pineapple: The ones with an aroma that you can smell a meter away are good to eat. Also, to determine ripeness, you can try pulling at a leaf. If the leaf comes off easily, it is quite ripe indeed.
  • Pomegranate: The more vibrant the red, the better. Also, the heavier it is, generally the juicier. Watch out for soft spots – that means it’s spoiled.
  • Watermelon: Look for clear and vibrant tiger stripes to indicate ripeness and lots of sunlight during its development. A resonant tapping sound when rapped with the knuckles indicates the proper texture. The ones that sound cottony will be sandy/soggy in texture. Ones with yellow patches mean that it got lots of sun there whereas white patches mean sunlight depletion. Finally, a small belly button is great as that indicates femaleness, for reasons mentioned above, which also means thinner skin.
  • Finally, for peaches and pears, there is a Chinese adage that goes, “tilted peaches, upright pears.” Basically, peaches that are so full that they are no longer symmetrical are the juiciest. However, pears need to be symmetrical, or else the pit is going to be huge.

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