I've heard you shouldn't keep bananas in a bowl with other fruit. But they all look so happy together.

What I'd like to see is hard science here. Or at least documented and repeatable observation. For example, I read lots of people saying simply "it's the ethylene gas", but what's eluded my searching eye is a chart of which common fruits emit how much of this gas, or the ripening effect of x amount of this gas for y duration at z distance from other fruits in the vicinity. I'd do an experiment myself, but I don't have any particular biology expertise to properly structure a control, etc., and maybe it's already been done?

While I'm not saying this oft-heard claim is false, I am saying I've neither been convinced that it's verifiably so as far as having been proven, nor convinced that any ripening-hastening is of significant concern (shortens the life of a banana by a day or more). If it is, we'll have to issue a cease-and-desist order to my household regarding the convenient stacking of all our colorful fruit friends in one place.

Follow-up inquiry: Even if this banana ripening-rate-quickening is true for apples and oranges, are there certain fruits that are okay to leave in the bowl with bananas?

  • Follow up questions should really be asked separately ... but in this case, it'd might be closed as a duplicate; see How should I organize my fruits for storage?
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 12:56
  • Understood on the follow-up thing. It could be edited out, as it may not contribute to the value of the question. I hadn't noticed the other inquiry before. I had my head too stuck on the banana part of this - backwardly, as Michael pointed out.
    – zanlok
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


For Apples, see:

There are also various websites that give instructions if you'd like to do experiments yourself (generally geared towards classroom instruction):

... but for a more complete list, go to Google Scholar, and search for 'ethylene' + whatever fruit you're interested in; you'll find stuff going back many, many decades.


I think you've got this mostly backwards. The reason not to store bananas with other fruit is that the ripening bananas emit a lot of ethylene gas and will cause the other fruit to spoil more quickly. You can also use this to your advantage: got a pear that you want to ripen quicker? Put it in a paper bag with ripe bananas overnight.

Other fruit emits ethylene as well, but generally in large quantities only when they are already quite ripe.

Here is a pretty good reference: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0531/p15s01-lifo.html

  • This kid's suggests something like that - 1 ripe banana ripens others. In my experience, oranges don't easily over-ripen, so does this mean there's nothing wrong with keeping oranges and bananas in the same bowl?
    – zanlok
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 9:53
  • 5
    Correct: oranges aren't ethylene-sensitive. I've got a list somewhere - basically the fruits that can ripen after picking are ethylene sensitive; those that can't, aren't. Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 10:40
  • 3
    The more ripe the fruit, the more ethylene gas it'll give off; hence the 'one bad apple spoils the bunch'
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 1:27
  • 1
    @zanlock : postharvest.tfrec.wsu.edu/pages/N4I1C ; "The cornerstone for successful ethylene control in storage is to start by harvesting preclimacteric fruit; isolating it from climacteric fruit and other sources of ethylene; and using a scrubber to remove ethylene as it is generated by the fruit" ; and instructions for testing it yourself : chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryexperiments/ss/ethyleneexp.htm
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 12:53
  • 1
    @MichaelNatkin Business Insider (oddly) published such a list of fruit and their ethylene properties.
    – bishop
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 0:40

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