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Why Fresh Produce Goes Bad So Fast

Design Pics / Stock Foundry / Thinkstock

Many fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas, a colorless, odorless gas, as they begin to ripen. Some foods aren't affected much by ethylene gas, while others are extremely sensitive to it.

When these sensitive fruits and vegetables come in contact with ethylene gas, they began to ripen at a much faster rate than normal. This leads to premature rotting and a shorter shelf life. This is why you should never store salad staples like mushrooms and peppers with lettuce. The ethylene from the mushrooms and peppers will rot the lettuce faster.

But with some strategic storage, you can extend the shelf life of your fresh fruits and vegetables. The ethylene-producing foods below should never be stored in the same basket, drawer, or shelf as the ethylene-sensitive foods listed. Store foods on the top list separate from foods on the bottom list to help your fresh food last longer.

Ethylene-Producing Produce

  • apples
  • apricots
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupes
  • citrus fruit
  • cranberries
  • figs
  • guavas
  • grapes
  • green onions
  • honeydew
  • kiwi
  • mangoes
  • melons
  • mushrooms
  • nectarines
  • okra
  • papayas
  • passion fruit
  • peaches
  • pears
  • peppers
  • persimmons
  • pineapple
  • plantains
  • plums/prunes
  • tomatoes
  • watermelons

Ethylene-Sensitive Produce

  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • chard
  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • endives
  • escarole
  • green beans
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • parsley
  • peas
  • potatoes
  • romaine
  • spinach
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • watercress
  • yams


Tags: Food