Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ethylene Gas is Straight Up Bananas

Can we talk about bananas for a hot minute? I have this food pet peeve- we all have them- and one of mine is when bananas get brown spots on them. I hate that. I think they taste disgusting when they're really ripe. Seriously, its gross city and my taste buds are the mayor. I like my bananas with the tiniest hint of green on them, which means I usually get to eat 1 banana before the rest of the bunch gets spots on them and I let them rot and make banana bread.
Sometimes I feel bad for talking smack about bananas (No, I do. I have actually found myself looking at bananas and thinking "I'm sorry guys.") because they actually have this really cool thing they can do that a lot of other fruits can't: they produce ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is this really powerful thing that makes other fruit around it ripen faster. Produce companies (they used to be called "farms") have ripening rooms where they can store fruit to ripen before its shipped to grocery stores. No picking ripe tomatoes from the plants anymore, they just pick them early and stick them in a room pumped full of ethylene gas. Bananas produce so much of it that it can't really be contained- it goes through cardboard boxes, shipping crates, even concrete. It's a super power. Bananas totally deserve to wear a cape for that.
I have this really awesome fruit bowl that I got as a wedding present and I want so badly to be able to store all the fruit together in it with bananas on top, just like some awesome fruit bowl pin up photo of perfection, but I can't. If the bananas sit on top of the onions, the onions get a brown mushy spot on them where the bananas were, or the onion starts to grow shoots faster. Mr. Sweet Potato starts to grow little root mustaches, and the pears might as well just commit fruit suicide. Its like back when you're in elementary school and no one wants to sit next to the kid who farts all the time. (What were his parents feeding him??) Bananas are the farting kid. Out of courtesy, you'll probably want to keep the other kids at a distance. The ethylene gas is just that powerful. But its kind of awesome in a way. If you need to ripen your tomatoes, you can just store them next to some bananas or put them both in a bag together for an afternoon. Its like 7 minutes in ripening heaven. Ethylene gas needs oxygen and room to warm temperatures to do its thing though, so don't go and put a banana and a tomato in a vacuum packed bag from one of those as-seen-on-TV contraptions and stick it in the freezer and expect it to work, dumb ass. Give it some room to breathe. Anyways, consider this my public apology to bananas because they don't really get enough credit for being such hard working little farters. Good job guys.

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