Have you heard of the phrase one rotten apple spoils the bunch? Well this phrase is in fact true! The reason for this is because of a biochemical gas that is released from some fruits and vegetables. Here’s a short information bite explaining why certain foods ripen faster than others, especially when placed with certain fruits or vegetables.

This gas is called ethylene and is produced by plants as a regulation hormone. Ethylene affects many processes including the loss of leaves during Autumn, plant aging and the rapid ripening of fruit. Although the gas itself was unknown, the arrangement of certain foods has been used in many ancient cultures to accelerate fruit ripening. More recently, however, the knowledge of ethylene has been used to enhance the commercial trade of fruit and vegetables and has been used in other areas such as in floristry and ornamental gardening.

This is also very important when storing fruits and vegetables as some will produce ethylene and some will be more responsive to it. As a result, food should be stored so that ethylene producers are placed away from food that is sensitive to the gas. See below for a list of ethylene producing and ethylene sensitive food and follow the link to see some tips on how to store food effectively.

Ethylene producing foods

Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas (ripe), cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, onions, guavas, grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, prunes, tomatoes.

Ethylene sensitive foods

Asparagus, bananas (unripe), blackberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, aubergine, garlic, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, okra, parsley, peas, peppers, raspberries, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, watercress, watermelon.
If you want to read more on food storage then check out our article here: How to Store Food Effectively: Part I