ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why apples and bananas cause other fruit to spoil

Updated on August 24, 2012

Everyone knows that when they buy bananas at the supermarket, the bananas are green and hard. Once home, they will quickly ripen and become softer, sweeter and more palatable. The truth is that those bananas did not magically arrive at the store just one day before they were ready to turn golden yellow and delicious. They were purposely kept from ripening until they reached the store by the growers who transport them in airtight, refrigerated conditions. Once they reach the store, they are gassed.

Bananas | Source

It's a Gas

I heard you gasp when you read the word “gassed”. But you needn’t worry. The gas that is used to ripen fruit is the same one that the fruit itself produces - ethylene gas. Ethylene gas triggers many processes in fruits, one of which is to cause it to ripen. Production is slowed by the refrigeration and lack of air, but when you expose your bananas to the warmth of your kitchen, they will begin to quickly ripen. In the same way, you can keep ripe bananas from getting too soft, mushy and brown by putting them in your refrigerator. The cold slows the production of ethylene gas. The banana’s skin will turn black, but the fruit inside will stay firm and delicious.


Apples are also a prodigious producer of ethylene gas. Because ripening apples will produce a lot of ethylene gas, it is best to store them away from other fruit unless you actually want the fruit to ripen more quickly. Like bananas, apples will stay firm and tasty in the refrigerator for a long time but will quickly over-ripen if left out in the open. On the other hand, if you want your apples or any other fruit - pears, peaches, plums - to ripen more quickly, put the fruit in a paper bag and fold down the top. The bag will concentrate the ethylene produced by the fruit and the higher concentration of gas will cause the fruit to ripen rapidly.

How to ripen tomatoes

The paper bag trick is also useful for ripening tomatoes. Picking tomatoes just before ripeness may save them from bursting on the vine or being ravaged by insects and other pests. To ripen those tomatoes quickly in the house, place them in a paper bag with a ripe apple, fold down the top of the bag and let the ethylene gas do its work.

Bananas with spots
Bananas with spots | Source

Watch for spots

Conversely, to keep fruit from ripening too quickly or going mushy, make sure you remove any piece of fruit that has dark spots or is going mushy. A banana with dark spots is producing more ethylene than one that has just started to turn yellow. It is usually best to keep both apples and bananas stored separately from other fruits, to avoid ripening of the other fruit and shortening its shelf life.

Bowl of Fruit
Bowl of Fruit | Source

Stay in control

The ability to keep fruits from ripening too quickly allows produce to be shipped fresh to your supermarket at any time of year. In the same way, understanding how ethylene gas works to ripen fruit and how to control ripening will help you keep fruit fresher, longer. Use these tips to avoid spoilage and enjoy serving fresh, delicious fruit to your family in any season.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • anjac profile imageAUTHOR

      Anja Poulsen 

      6 years ago from New England, USA

      Thanks so much. I know I tend to keep apples in the fridge crisper for far too long, but even if they finally get a bit soft, I can still use them for apple pie, many weeks after purchase. As nice as it is to have an attractive bowl of fruit on the table, it's better to toss it into the fridge. It takes a while to convince children to eat bananas with black skin, though.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 

      6 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Some good info here I had not known about. I don't usually put my apples and bananas in the refrigerator but I might start doing that if I don't plan to eat them. Voted up and shared!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)