Science Questions

Why do bannanas ripen other fruit?

Sun, 1st Jul 2007

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Question

Hallie, USA asked:

I have heard that if you put a banana in a bag with any other kind of fruit it would ripen the other fruit. Would it taste as good as a naturally ripened fruit?

Answer

The reason it ripens is because bananas happen to produce a huge amount of the ripening chemical that fruit uses, Ethylene.  Its the same stuff that can be processed to create polyethylene plastic.  Bananas secrete loads of ethylene, and so it will spread to any other fruit in the fruit bowl.  All fruit use ethylene as a signal to ripen, so this is a natural way to encourage fruit to ripen.

If you traumatise a plant, such as by pulling leaves off, it will release a burst of ethylene as a growth signal to the rest of the plant.

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