While lockdowns have lifted over a good bit of the country, many of us are still sticking to a once-weekly trip to the supermarket or farmer's market. We buy a big bounty, and then before the household can make a dent in it, the bananas are browning. Yet, the grapes are still read to eat.
Different fruits and vegetables have differing ripening processes. And what's more, how you store them and which ones you put together to have a massive impact on how quickly they ripen. Sure, those bananas were green a day ago, but if you want to keep them from overripening superfast, you'll need to know how to store them to get the best enjoyment.
It All Comes Down to Ethylene
Some fruits and vegetables produce a gas known as ethylene. This is what helps them ripen. But when you store these types with produce that is sensitive to ethylene, they can overripen quickly.
For certain fruits and vegetables, this natural phytohormone is all normal for the ripening process. In others, though, it causes them to spoil. So, which fruits and veggies produce ethylene?
Interestingly, those that are ethylene-sensitive yet produce it themselves are apples, bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, pears, and kiwis. That's why these will do better on your kitchen countertop.
Other ethylene-sensitive produce items are:
Lemons and limes
For the items that fall into both ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive, you can ripen them on the counter, but when they get to that perfect ripeness, put them in the fridge. That's how to save your avocados for sure!
Most ethylene-sensitive foods should go into the fridge, but for those that produce ethylene, the counter is the best place. If you want your bananas to go from green to yellow so you can enjoy them perfectly ripe, you can put them in a paper bag. The same goes for that ultra-green avocado. The bag traps the gas and speeds up ripening. However, you don't want to resort to a paper bag for long-term storage, or else you'll wind up with spoiled goods.
You can keep produce that isn't ethylene-sensitive together on the counter. Pineapples, potatoes, garlic, cherries, and strawberries are just a few that will be fine in your fruit bowl to free up precious space inside the fridge.
Now that you know which fruits and vegetables play nicely together in terms of ethylene production or sensitivity, you'll be able to keep them all fresher for longer. That means less food waste and fewer trips to the store, both of which have a profound effect on the environment, and not to mention your health.
And should you accidentally find yourself with overripe bananas or other fruits, there are many different ways to convert them into delicious goodies like banana bread or jam that will make the most of your bounty!
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