- Describe “peak ripeness” in terms of flavor
- Identify harvest readiness for various varieties
Shouldn’t that be the goal for every farmer, gardener, and backyard green thumb? Plants aspire for peak ripeness. If you understand the life cycle you can then identify when each variety is entering its ripeness stage. Some change colors, others plump up. And, of course, there is always the tried and true taste test. What could be simpler!
But most kids, and adults for that matter, are completely unaware of what a perfectly ripened – vine ripened at that – tomato should taste like. They’ve never tasted the sweet, creamy, nuttiness of mache or the peppery sting of mustard greens. Yet both are enjoyed worldwide.
So to understand peak ripeness is to taste it. Once you taste a perfectly ripened tomato, that pink mealy flesh of the red orb in the grocery store will be seen as something else. It’s certainly not a tomato at peak ripeness.
Teach the Teacher
Tools & Materials
- Store bought samples for the variety being harvested in the Lab
- Cutting board
- Peak ripeness
- Vine ripened
- Brix-Acid ratio
Introduction (5 minutes)
Begin the lesson by describing what ripeness is. Give examples like a yellow banana or a red tomato. Then explain the concept of peak ripeness as that point where fruits and vegetables no longer ripen but rather begin to break down. This is where the food is at its very best.
Activity (20 minutes)
Prepare a comparison taste test for a variety that you are preparing to harvest by tasting it alongside a store bought sample. For example, if you are harvesting carrots from the Raised Planters, prepare a test taste with an offering of a similar variety from the local grocer. Have the kids taste the two samples and comment on their experience.
Discussion (10 minutes)
Which one do you like better? Why? What is different about the one we grew?
Assessment (10 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you can tell when a fruit or vegetable is perfectly ripened?
- Now that you know how to identify peak ripeness, how many of you think you could do so on your own?
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