Bananas placed next to other fruits cause accelerated ripening. You can take advantage of this after buying or harvesting fruits, which are not ripe yet. To speed up ripening, place a banana and the unripe fruits into a paper bag or sealable bag. If using paper bag, make sure there is a slight ventilation, so that oxygen can get in and carbon dioxide can get out. If using selalble bag, open it daily.
If you can miss the banana, you can bruise its peel to accelerate the ripening even more. It is also possible to replace bananas after one or two days because they ripe quicker in the sealable bag too, especially when bruised.
Bananas accelerates ripening of apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, cherimoyas, figs, mangos, olives, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums and tomatoes. They have small effect on ripening of bell peppers, cherries, citruses, pineapples, green beans, strawberries and watermelons.
The way fruits ripen is that there is commonly a ripening signal...a burst of ethylene production. Ethylene is a simple hydrocarbon gas (H2C=CH2) that ripening fruits make and shed into the atmosphere. Sometimes a wound will cause rapid ethylene production, thus picking a fruit will sometimes signal it to ripen
Ethylene apparently "turns on" the genes that are then transcribed and translated to make enzymes. The enzymes then catalyze reactions to alter the characteristics of the fruit. The action of the enzymes cause the ripening responses. Chlorophyll is broken down and sometimes new pigments are made so that the fruit skin changes color from green to red, yellow, or blue. Acids are broken down so that the fruit changes from sour to neutral. The degradation of starch by amylase produces sugar. This reduces the mealy (floury) quality and increases juiciness. The breakdown of pectin, thanks to pectinase between the fruit cells, unglues them so they can slip past each other. That results in a softer fruit. Enzymes also break down large organic molecules into smaller ones that can be volatile (evaporate into the air) and we can detect as an aroma.
Ripening bananas produce so much ethylene that you can use them as a tool to ripen other fruits. If you put ripening bananas into a bag with other fruits you want to ripen, you will do the same trick as distributors of tropical fruits do in their warehouses before shipping fruits to supermarkets - they gas hard, green, sour, unripened fruits with ethylene.
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