How many times have you thrown away a fruit because it started to get too soft? Did you know that some fruits still ripen even when they are no longer attached to the tree, while others stop? Learn about climacteric fruits and their properties! You will also know how to store them and what not to do with them.
All about climacteric fruits
Unless you buy your fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farmer, it’s unlikely that the fruit you buy at the grocery store is freshly picked. In fact, there is sometimes a long period of time between picking and eating a fruit.
What does climacteric mean?
Some fruits, called climacteric, have the ability to continue to ripen even after being picked. In fact, thanks to certain enzymes they contain, these fruits can finish ripening in time. The most important compound that allows climacteric fruits to ripen is ethylene, a gas. The riper a fruit is, the more ethylene it will give off.
Which fruits are climacteric and which are not?
Here is a table to help you distinguish between climacteric and non-climacteric fruits.
|Non climacteric fruits|
|Cucumber (yes, it's a fruit!)|
Now that you know which fruits are climacteric, you can buy them even if they are not ripe with the peace of mind that they will ripen… Eventually!
How to store climacteric fruits
Have you ever heard the famous saying about putting avocado with bananas in a brown paper bag will help it ripen? Indeed, the release of ethylene from the ripening bananas (and your brown paper bag) will help the ripening process of the avocado, if they are put together!
However, the opposite is not true with a climacteric and non-climacteric fruit. A non-climacteric fruit (for example, an orange) stored with a climacteric fruit (for example, an apple) in a closed area will be more likely to deteriorate than to ripen!
You'll never see fruit the same way again... and trust the expression!
The expression that one rotten apple makes the others rotten then takes all its meaning!
A little more about ethylene
Ethylene, in plants, is a phytohormone used for the maturation and survival of plants.
To make it simple, ethylene is synthesized from methionine (an amino acid) by enzymes. This process is controlled in part by external factors: external stress (flooding, drought, ozone, pathogen attacks…).
The use of ethylene by the food industry
Basically, ethylene is used for the manufacture of polyethylene plastics and even as a fuel gas!
This gas can even be used by some distributors to help fruits low in ethylene to ripen faster. It is also possible to remove ethylene from the environment of climacteric fruits, in order to slow down their ripening process and thus extend their shelf life!
It is quite an art for these distributors to make sure that the fruit you buy in the grocery store is the right ripeness. They even have to take into account that each fruit is different, a task to be done seriously!
Ask yourself next time you see the row of bananas and you’re not happy because they’re all green…
In Canada, ethylene can also be used in the degreening process of citrus fruits, a process that fades the green color of the peel. This hormone is even used to grow flowers!
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that some fruits continue to ripen after being harvested, while others do not. It is important to separate these two types of fruit when storing them, in order to optimize their taste and texture over the long term. Don’t forget to separate your apples from your bananas in your fruit bin!