When I heard about the use of ethylene gas in the ripening of fruits and vegetables, I initially thought of an artificial gas. It doesn't sound very bio, but nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot find more natural gasses such as ethylene. I found out after a good conversation with our Quality Controllers. If you also want to know more about this interesting natural phenomenon, please read on quickly.

What is Ethylene gas?

“You don't see it and you don't smell it, because ethylene is a hydrocarbon gas. Ethylene gas is a natural process that takes place in certain types of fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, bananas, pears and apples,” so I have been told.

But what exactly does the ethylene gas do?

“Ethylene gas is actually a natural plant hormone that regulates plant growth, plant development and also the speed of this process. Just like humans and animals also contain a growth hormone. In plants, Ethylene gas ensures that the fruits and vegetables ripen.

It is a fascinating process, because in addition to ripening these fruits themselves, they can also ripen other fruits. They are actually all small gas bombs. If you still have green bananas on your fruit bowl and you add a number of apples, the bananas will ripen faster. ”

But that's not always the intention, is it?!

“That's right, on the fruit bowl you mostly want to keep the fruit good for as long as possible, because if it ripens too quickly, it can also rot. But it can also work to your advantage; Suppose the pears you bought are still very hard, add some apples or bananas and you will see that you can eat the pears faster.
But what do you think happens to a container full of bananas shipped after harvest? All these little gas bombs together form a big gas bomb. That's why bananas are picked green, because the ripening process just continues in a natural way in the container. ”

Are there any drawbacks to Ethylene gas?

“Absolutely, the ripening process is purely natural, but it can also cause products to ripen too far, causing the quality of the products to deteriorate, the products to be thrown away and this resulting in waste. See below an image of what the amount of Ethylene does to an avocado.

Avocado riping 

I experienced it myself once when a truck with a combined load from Spain arrived. This truck was cooled to 8 degrees, but it had no Ethylene absorber. The tomatoes in this load have accelerated the aging process of the eggplants in the same load. The calyxes of most of the aubergines had fallen off and the whole batch of aubergines was rejected. Unnecessary waste. An Ethylene trap could have prevented this.”

What types of fruits and vegetables contain Ethylene?

“Some fruits produce more ethylene than others. Those that make a lot of ethylene are also called climacteric fruits. Those are:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Kaki fruit
  • Kiwis
  • Cucumbers
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Passion fruit
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Figs

The following products contain little or no Ethylene. And can discolour, but it will not change the taste next to other fruit:

  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Watermelons
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
  • Pineapples
  • Lemons
  • Oranges

Are there any other useful facts about Ethylene gas?

  • Do not place your bunch of flowers next to the fruit bowl, the shelf life of the flowers will decrease enormously.
  • Put a pear or apple between your potatoes or onions. The Ethylene gas inhibits the production of the sprouts.