Did you know that some produce can spoil much faster than you would expect just because they are stored next to the wrong neighbours in your refrigerator or pantry? This is because many crops release ethylene as they ripen, a plant hormone that can cause nearby fruit and vegetables to decay faster. The biggest ethylene producers are apples, avocados, bananas, some melons, strawberries, mangos, pears, peaches and plums, tomatoes and potatoes. On the other end, among the most ethylene-sensitive species are asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce and leafy greens, garlic, onions, and squash.

Carrots, for example, can keep all of its food value for weeks if properly stored in a dark, cool, and humid place. But if it is too close to big ethylene producers, such as apples or avocados, the gas released by these neighbours will lead to the formation of bitter compounds in the carrots. To protect them, keep them in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Try to store big ethylene producers together and away from ethylene-sensitive fruit and vegetables and you will be able to enjoy their food value much longer than you would otherwise.


Nathalie RĂ©mond, on behalf of the Food Issues Committee.