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Produce Storage 101


What is Ethylene Gas

Ethylene gas is commonly found in most fruits and some vegetables, it is a natural plant hormone that controls their growth and ripening. Ethylene is a hydrocarbon gas and is safe around humans and animals at low levels. It is flammable, odorless, and tasteless

 

Effects of Ethylene on Fruits and Vegetables

The common effects of ethylene gas in fruits are making their texture softer, changes their color, and making them sweet.   While ethylene gas is a good substance for speeding up the process of ripening in fruits. They can also be a bad substance over-time and will result in the decay and damaging of produce. Some effects include apples and pears lose their crunch, green leafy vegetable wilts quickly, and dark spotting in green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, and broccoli. Fruits produce more ethylene gas than vegetables, but some fruits and vegetables are also highly sensitive to ethylene gas.

 

Things you need to know about Ethylene Gas

  1. Some fruits and vegetables such as green leafy vegetables are sensitive to ethylene gas, so you need to keep them away from high producing ethylene produce such as apples and pears because they will decay and wilt quickly. This is why leafy greens and other ethylene sensitive produce should be stored in sealed containers so they don’t get affected by ethylene gas from their environment, and not in our famous reusable mesh bags which has a breathable mesh.  

  2. To maintain the longevity of your produce, high ethylene producing fruits should be kept away from other fruits and vegetables. Ideally, you should store your fruits and vegetables separately because fruits releases more ethylene gas than veggies. Keep green leafy vegetables away from fruits and preferably in a sealed container.

  3. Keep away ripe fruits and vegetables from ethylene-producing foods so they can last longer.

  4. Store onions and potatoes separately in a dry, cool, and open place. They don’t produce high levels of ethylene gas but potatoes are sensitive to ethylene. Exposure to high levels of ethylene gas can lead to sprouting in potatoes.  

  5. Storing fruits and vegetables in a fridge or at lower temperatures can slow down the ripening effect of ethylene gas.

  6. Discard older, rotten food from your storage so your other fruits and vegetables can last longer and won’t get exposed to high levels of ethylene gas coming from overripe produce.

  7. Citrus fruits have a longer shelf life even after they are picked, but exposure to high levels of ethylene gas can make the citrus rinds break down.  

Quick Chart of Ethylene Producing and Sensitive Produce

Ethylene Producing Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits & Vegetables Ethylene Emission Ethylene Sensitive
Apples High Yes
Apricots High Yes
Avocados, ripe High Yes
Avocados, unripe Low Yes, Very
Bananas, green Low Yes
Bananas, ripe Medium No
Blackberries Very Low No
Blueberries Very Low No
Cantaloupe Medium Yes
Cherries Very Low No
Cucumbers Very Low Yes
Endive No No
Figs Low No
Grapefruit Very Low No
Grapes Very Low Yes
Guavas Medium Yes
Kiwi, ripe High Yes
Kiwi, unripe Low Yes, Very
Lemons Very Low No
Limes Very Low No
Lychees Very Low No
Mangoes Medium Yes
Melons, Honey Dew Medium Yes
Nectarines High No
Okra Very Low Yes
Oranges Very Low No
Papayas Medium Yes
Peaches High Yes
Pears High Yes
Pineapples Very Low No
Plums High Yes
Prunes High Yes
Quinces High Yes
Raspberries Very Low No
Strawberries Very Low No
Tangerines Very Low No
Tomatoes, green Low Yes
Tomatoes, ripe Medium No

Ethylene Sensitive Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits & Vegetables Ethylene Emission
Ethylene Sensitive
Asparagus No Yes
Avocados, ripe High Yes
Avocados, unripe Low Yes, Very
Bananas, green Low Yes
Basil No Yes
Beets No Yes
Bok Choy No Yes
Broccoli No Yes
Brussels Sprouts No Yes
Cabbage No Yes
Cantaloupe Medium Yes
Carrots No Yes
Cauliflower No Yes
Celery No Yes
Cucumbers Very Low Yes
Eggplant No Yes
Grapes Very Low Yes
Green Beans No Yes
Green Peas No Yes
Guavas Medium Yes
Herbs No Yes
Kiwi, ripe High Yes
Kiwi,unripe Low Yes, Very
Leeks No Yes
Lettuce No Yes
Mangoes Medium Yes
Honey Dew Medium Yes
Mushrooms No Yes
Okra Very Low Yes
Papayas Medium Yes
Parsnips No Yes
Peaches High Yes
Pears High Yes
Peppers,hot No Yes
Persimmons No Yes, Very
Plums High Yes
Prunes High Yes
Potatoes No Yes
Pumpkins No Yes
Quinces High Yes
Radishes No Yes
Rutabagas No Yes
Salad Mixes No Yes
Sprouts No Yes
Squashes, summer No Yes
Squashes, winter No Yes
Sweet Potatoes No Yes
Tomatoes, green Low Yes
Turnips No Yes
Watermelon No Yes, Very

NO Ethylene Emission, Not Sensitive
Fruits & Vegetables Ethylene Emission
Ethylene Sensitive
Artichoke, Sweet No No
Cherries sweet No No
Chicory No No
Coconuts No No
Corn No No
Cranberries No No
Garlic No No
Ginger No No
Kohlrabi No No
Onions No No
Peppers sweet No No
Pomegranates No No
Rhubarb No No



Sources:
https://www.mykitchengarden.info/2016/10/fruits-vegetables-producing-ethylene-or-sensitive.html
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/fegen/ethylene-gas-information.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene

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