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Stores Use Banana Gas? What’s That?

(Town Square Media)

The older you get, the more you realize there’s so much you don’t know. We had a neighborhood get-together the other day, and one of my neighbors was talking about fresh produce and mentioned she bought bananas one time and they stayed green for a couple of weeks. They went out of town on vacation, and the bananas were still green so she took them back to the store, which gave her a new bunch of bananas with an explanation.

She was told that grocery markets use banana gas to ripen the bananas. Basically, it’s ethylene, and bananas won’t ripen if there isn’t enough ethylene in the atmosphere.

Bananas are picked green and ideally kept at a temperature of 57 degrees for shipping. Much colder than that will turn them rotten. Before they hit the produce department at the store, they’re placed in an air-tight ripening vault filled with ethylene gas. If they’re selling a lot of bananas, they add more gas. If they’re moving slowly…they use less.

You can gas your own bananas by putting them in a plastic bag with a couple of apples until they begin to ripen. The apple gives off enough ethylene gas to ripen bananas quickly.

Bananas have no season. They’re available fresh year round, and people buy more bananas than any other fruit.

Once they do ripen, experts say you can put them in the fridge. The skin will turn brown, but the fruit of the banana will still taste great for several weeks. But don’t put green bananas in the fridge – they’ll turn rotten.

Most grocery stores will give you a full refund or exchange on any bananas that you’re not satisfied with.

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