Ethylene. Hormones. Fruits. And how to ripen bananas quickly.
Ethylene (see right) is widely used in industrial reactions. What might come as a surprise to many of us is that it is also a plant hormone. It plays a very important role in the ripening of many fruits, such as bananas.
Ethylene is a naturally occurring hormone in bananas. It is produced as a gas. When bananas ripen, the levels of ethylene gas produced and emitted are especially high. The ethylene prompts the bananas to change color (green to yellow), become softer and sweeter, and have a stronger aroma.
We can use this phenomenon to make the bananas ripen faster: just put the ripening green bananas in a paper or plastic bag. The bag traps the ethylene gas, further stimulating the bananas to ripen.
Commercial suppliers of bananas do the same thing. They put unripened bananas into a large room, and then pump ethylene gas into it to get the bananas to ripen to the desired levels before shipping them out.
What other kinds of fruit ripen more quickly in a paper or plastic bag? Share your experiences and photos with me!
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photos: in order – istockphoto/CactuSoup; depositphotos/Noppharat_th