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Thursday May 28 2015
2:05 PM EDT

Cool Science - Ripening Fruit

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Cool Science - Ripening Fruit

Getting fresh fruit in this region can be difficult at this time of year. And not all fruit can be ripened at home. So it often ends up in the trash.

There are two different types of fruits. Climacteric fruits naturally ripen after harvest. These include apples, pears, bananas, avocados, apricots, blueberries and tomatoes. Nonclimacteric fruits are fruits where ripening only occurs on the plant. These include grapes, oranges, pineapple, cherries, raspberries, strawberries and plums.

Bland, hard as a rock, climacteric fruits all have a chance of someday being sweet and juicy … whereas non climacteric fruit may get softer over time but won’t ripen any further at home.

The ripening process in many fruits is controlled by ethylene gas. Fruits and vegetables produce ethylene after they have been picked. Once the ethylene reaches a certain level, the fruit ripens.

But some fruits create ethylene in greater quantities and can actually help ripen other fruits when placed in a confined space, like a bag or drawer.

Here I have a ripe banana that is producing a lot of ethylene gas. I’m placing it in a bag with an unripe avocado. After a couple of days, the ethylene gas from the banana will speed up the ripening process of the avocado and make it ready to eat.

Alternatively, keeping fruit you don’t want to ripen away from ethylene-producing fruits will help them last longer.

Keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy your fruit this winter … instead of throwing it away.

Now that’s cool science!

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