Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

The Refractometer

Have you ever wondered how we determine the sweetness of a fruit is or if it's ripe enough for shipping? To measure the soluble sugars in fruit, we use a tool called a refractometer. Fruit that is ready for packing should have a consistent "sugar reading" to indicate full maturity, and the trick for any grower is to find the balance between a shippable firmness with an as-close-to-ripe texture and flavor. These late-season East Coast peaches (in the above examples) are displaying 12% to a full 14% Brix reading which is the ideal measure for a very, very tasty flavor profile. These yellow peaches are truly "tree ripe". Random samples from this particular pick shows a nice exterior color, a clean and consistent internal color and excellent juice content...and man are they great to eat! Measuring for sugar is just one of several testing-components we use to make the best, in-the-field decisions for the fruit that goes out to our stores and customers, but the best part of testing is the tasting!

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katswan says …

WoW! Where can I get one of those gadgets? I have a knack for picking the worst fruit....a home gadget like that would sell like crazy!

says …

Hey ! Basic "refracto's" are available commercially and online. They run from kinda'-pricey' to 'super-costly'. The USDA inspectore have the top-of-the-line models...I calibrate mine against theirs routinely. I like the idea of you busting one of these out in the Produce Dept., I bet other customers will start having you "brix" their fruit too !