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  • Writer's pictureWellness Workdays

Feuding Fruits and Veggies

how to properly store fruits and vegetables

Have you ever heard that you should not put certain fruits and vegetables next to each other because they can cause the other to over ripen or even rot? Can fruits and vegetables really harm each other? The answer is, yes.

All fruits and vegetables produce an odorless, invisible gas called ethylene. Don’t worry, this gas is harmless to humans. Ethylene gas acts as a plant hormone by controlling the speed at which a fruit or vegetable grows and develops. The gas is produced as the fruit or vegetable matures, making it softer or changing its color or odor. Ethylene gas is also produced if a plant is injured in some way, and it can eventually cause the plant to die.

Fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas in differing amounts. Fruits generally produce more ethylene than vegetables do. Fruits that produce ethylene gas in large amounts tend to ripen more quickly. Additionally, fruits and vegetables can be affected by ethylene gas to varying degrees. Some are not as impacted by the gas and can be stored next to ethylene producers without over ripening or rotting.

The fruits below are high producers of ethylene gas and can accelerate the ripening of other fruits and vegetables that are close to them. Because they are high producers, they are sensitive to the effects of ethylene as well.

  • Apples

  • Apricots

  • Avocados

  • Bananas

  • Cantaloupe

  • Honeydew melon

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Plums

  • Tomatoes

Below are fruits and vegetables that don’t produce ethylene gas in high amounts but are sensitive to its effects. They should be stored well away from those listed above.

  • Asparagus

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Cucumbers

  • Eggplant

  • Green beans

  • Leafy greens and lettuces

  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes

  • Squash

  • Watermelon

The fruits and vegetables below don’t produce ethylene gas in high amounts and are not sensitive to its effects.

  • Blueberries

  • Cherries

  • Citrus

  • Corn

  • Cranberries

  • Garlic

  • Onions

Storing fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator can help slow the effects of ethylene gas and prevent spoilage. However, keep bananas, avocados, tomatoes and unripe peaches, pears and plums out of the fridge because the cold temperatures can negatively affect their moisture levels and flavors. Be sure to keep the ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables away from the high ethylene producers in the fridge as well.

Now that you know which fruits and vegetables do not get along well, be sure to keep them separated if you want to prolong their shelf life. You can also use this knowledge to speed up the ripening of unripe, ethylene-sensitive fruits or vegetables by placing them in a breathable bag with ripe fruits.

Written by: Kierin O’Donnell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure.

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