Hey everyone… here’s another newsletter article I wrote for LolaBee’s a few weeks ago. Don’t forget to go to lolabees.com to read more!!!!
But for now… let’s discuss how to make sure your fruit is enjoyed exactly the way you like it!
Everyone likes their fruit a different way, some like them ripe and sweet, while others like them not-so-ripe and crunchy… did you know that you can actually manipulate the ripening process of your fruit to make sure it’s the perfect taste and texture!
Let’s start with understanding the process of fruit ripening… it’s time for some toxic science!!
Fruit ripening is caused by a ripening signal, a burst of simple hydrocarbon gas known as ethylene gas (H2C=CH2). Picking the fruit causes a rapid production of ethylene, which signals it to ripen. Ethylene “turns on” processes that develop and alter the characteristics of fruit. Chlorophyll (the stuff that makes fruit green) is broken down and new pigments are made so that the fruit skin changes color; acids are broken down bringing the flavor from sour to neutral; the degradation of starch produces sugar; and the “glue” between fruit cells is broken down, resulting in a softer fruit. Other enzymes also break down large organic molecules into smaller ones, releasing a sweet fruity aroma.
Long story short, ethylene induces enzymes to turn an acidic, starchy, green hard, non-aromatic, unripe fruit into a sweet, colorful, soft, aromatic, ripe fruit.
Now let’s go over how to store our fruit in order to keep it fresh…
There are two main types of fruits, climacteric (continues ripening) and non-climacteric (does not). When storing your fruit, you need to know which type it is. Climacteric fruits such as apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, figs, guava, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes, all continue to ripen after being picked, which is accelerated by ethylene gas. Non-climacteric fruits such as, cherries, grapes, citrus fruits, pineapples, and berries (all kinds) ripen only while still attached to the plant.
Non-climacteric fruits will not improve in flavor, so it’s best to keep them in the fridge in order to extend their life. In other words, your berries will not get sweeter with age, but your nectarines might! Thus, climacteric fruits, like nectarines, can be stored at room temperature to continue ripening (for your liking). Some climacteric fruits produce a lot of ethylene, and others are very sensitive to exogenous ethylene, so don’t store different fruits together, especially not in a closed container.
So, the good news is, you can store your fruit depending on how you like it. Don’t keep your fruit in the produce bag if you don’t want the fruit to ripen too fast–keeping the fruit in the bag will increase the concentration of ethylene gas thus causing the fruit to ripen faster. Refrigeration will also slow ripening, but if you take your fruit out of the fridge a few hours before you eat it will increase sweetness–letting the fruit get to room temperature on your counter will make it be sweeter, more aromatic, and better tasting or in my words, yummier.
You can also use heavy ethylene producers to your advantage. If you bought pears, apples, or avocados that are too unripe for your liking, you can put them in a closed paper bag with a banana to help them ripen faster. The paper bag helps stagnate and build up the ethylene concentration from the banana in order to induce ripening for the other fruit!