|I've heard that fruits and vegetables ripen
faster when placed in brown paper bags rather
than out in the open. Is this true? If so, why?
Also, does the color of the bag matter? Thanks!
|Question Date: 2009-06-03|
It's true that many fruits ripen faster if
they're in bags. The reason is that they give off
a gas that makes fruits ripen faster. If they're
in a bag, the gas is trapped near the fruit.
Otherwise, the gas can drift away. It's great
that you asked about the color of the bag. It
shows that you are questioning what you have heard
and thinking about which variables are important
and which ones are not. I'm with you here, I
doubt the color of the bag matters.
should a fruit give off a gas to make it ripen
faster? Normally, a fruit would still be on a
plant, making all the fruits around it ripen so
that they all get ripe at the same time. Can you
think of a good reason for this? Thanks for
I've heard that ripening fruit produces
ethylene gas, which helps it ripen.The purpose of
the bag is to keep the ethylene around the fruit
instead of having it diffuse away. I think the
bag needs to be paper, not plastic, because
plastic traps moisture - water - that might make
the fruit get squishy and moldy. Maybe the
advantage of brown paper is to keep out light,
which can cause various chemical reactions, or
maybe we just say 'brown paper' because paper bags
were always brown in the 'old' times.
The reason this happens is that vegetables
produce a chemical (which happens to be ethylene)
as a signal that causes them to ripen. Ethylene is
a gas, so if it is contained somehow, it will
overstimulate the fruit and cause it to ripen
faster. If the fruit is left out in the open, the
gas will just drift away, and the fruit will only
get partial effect from it.
I don't know why
plastic bags are bad for ripening, though - I'm
guessing because plastic interacts with ethylene
in some way.
I just heard the answer to your question last
night on the Good Eats show of the Food Network.
Ethylene gas, which is emitted from damaged plant
tissues, causes fruits and vegetable to ripen.
Ethylene gas gets trapped in the paper bag thereby
exposing the fruits or vegetables within causing
them to ripen faster.
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