Okay, I know the title is a little ridiculous, but I swear I am not making this up. When I was a kid, my parents bought a lot of rice and a lot of bananas (among other things). They would get the big 25# sacks of rice, which seem to be made of several layers of kraft paper, and put them in a cabinet.

When they bought bananas that were a little too green to eat, they would put whole bunches into the rice sack for a day or two. Does that actually make any difference for ripening? If so, is it because of the rice? The paper bag? The cool, dry, dark environment in the cabinet? Something else entirely?

This question looks related, but I don't know if the extra conditions I've noted make a difference beyond what was noted in the answer there: Why does a brown paper bag speed ripening?

  • It's not just related; it's essentially identical. Every answer to that question applies here.
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 20:52
  • possible duplicate of Why does a brown paper bag speed ripening?
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 20:52
  • Same reasons. The porous material (Kraft paper) and shape of the bag are the important characteristics.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 21:05
  • @hobo, I figured as much, but I wondered if the presence of the rice or the environment also had an effect that was not discussed in the other question.
    – Pops
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 21:07
  • I can't imagine it would have much significant effect. It's simply ethylene gas that causes the ripening.
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 21:09

2 Answers 2


Yeah, I would agree with the people in the comments, and make the assumption that it had to do with concentrating the ethylene gas from the bananas.

After a bit of googling, it looks like the rice bag trick might be popular because it apparently results in a nearly ideal, stable environment for ripening.

I imagine that the rice would keep the moisture level at a lower point, the bag would contain the gas, and the mass of the rice would decrease the temperature variants (assuming that is conducive to ripening)

I found an informative article which mentioned rice bags here: http://monsterguide.net/how-to-ripen-bananas-quickly


The basic idea is - banana ripens fast due to ethylene secretion. As it ripens (and subsequently starts rotting really fast), it secretes ethylene, which not only fastens the ripening process but also leads to ripening of any other fruit kept close to the banana.

Placing bananas in bunches or in an enclosed environment like a sack means consolidation, which means more ethylene emitted in one area and faster ripening. Try placing a raw fruit near a banana which is ripening and see the magic :)

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