jueves, 30 de enero de 2014

How to make your Fruit Ripe and Sweet. The Science behind the Magical Apple

Gone are the days when we used to get our fruit perfectly sweet and ready to eat from the local market. The sweetness and fragrance of a real fruit ripened in the branch and not in the storage room... Mouth watering oranges, apricots, kiwis, pears, melons...

But, has any of you thought of why some fruits get miraculously sweeter and softer in the fruit basket but others simply don´t? This strange phenomenon when suddenly the green, hard and tasteless pear gets perfectly ripe to eat is pure chemistry. And the food industry and fruit cooperatives know about it so they also take advantage of it to do what they really want. That is: to sell the fruit to the supermarkets that will be able to store it inside rooms for sometime without getting them all to waste due to excessive ripening.

Then , lets start with your mum´s or grandma´s best tip: "An apple in your fruit basket will make your fruit sweet". (But don´t ask her why that happens...)

There are 2 types of fruits to consider according to ripening process:

 ClimactericEthylene release= fruit gets sweet, color deepens, texture softens even after harvested from the tree

Non climacteric= No Ethylene release= fruit does not get sweeter after harvesting

This is the most basic concept to help you understand it. But other factors influence it too,like temperature, natural inhibitors on each variety, etc.

Here I leave you with a classification  of the most common fruits we eat that fall into each category.


1. Climacteric Fruit: Apple , Avocado, Apricot, Banana, Kiwis, Melon, Mango, Pear, Peach, Tomato

2. Non climacteric fruits: orange, lemon, mandarin,pineapple, grapes, strawberry, cherry

* And here is the simple but effective trick of the apple in the fruit basket: Apples release ethylene because they are climacteric. And when they are in contact with other climacteric fruits that are still green, the gas affects them too. So it induces ripening of the other fruits such as pears, bananas or kiwis.
You can use the bananas too, however they are less likely to stay forever in the kitchen as they get soft too fast.
Best thing to make ripening process even faster is cover the fruit bowl with a bag or put all fruits and the apple inside a paper bag:

And talking about tricks. Oranges and citrus that are harvested pretty green are treated by the industry with Ethylene! The oranges won´t get sweeter and ripe but the color will be deep orange instead of yellow.
The ethylene will 'de-green' them and this is a strategy to increase consumer acceptability in the market.

Key: Yes, fruits and vegetables can still ripe after they have been harvested. Take advantage of Nature´s wisdom and don´t eat your fruit green.

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