Have you ever wondered why the fruit you picked last week is still raw and not ripening? This issue is not just limited to fruits on your shelf, fridge, or dining room!
Sometimes, fruits in trees may drop unripened or stay on the plant even without ripening and turn bad.
If the fruits stay on the plant for long, they may become impaired. So, learn the ways to ripen the fruits and ways to turn the tides from the article!
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Do Fruits Still Ripen After Being Picked?
The fruits that ripen even after picking are climacteric, while those that don’t ripen off the vine are non-climacteric.
Some examples of climacteric fruits include Canteloupes, Bananas, Chilies, Apples, Peaches, Apricots, Avocadoes, etc.
However, many fruits, such as Limes, Lemons, Grapefruits, Pineapples, Pomegranates, Oranges, Lychees, Pineapples, Strawberries, etc., are non-climacteric.
The basic process of fruit ripening is controlled by Ethylene gas and Abscisic Acid (or ABA), two prominent plant hormones.
These two hormones, with an increase in the respiration cycle, bring major structural, physical, and metabolic changes in the plants, which forces the ripening process.
Do You Know?
Gibberellic Acid (GA), a plant hormone, delays fruit ripening in plants, alongside other hormones such as Cytokinins and Auxins.
Furthermore, these hormonal processes ensue when the fruit remains on the plant until ripening. This process is more pronounced in some plants, and their fruits can ripen off the vine.
However, you can force any kind of fruit to ripen by using commercial versions of fruit ripening hormones or keep the non-climacteric fruits with climacteric fruits to make them ripen faster.
Difference Between Mature & Ripe Fruits
Mature fruits are those that are at the onset of ripening. Hence, they are formed after the flowering and fertilization stages in plants.
However, fruits become ripe and soft after maturation, as indicated by changes in color, texture, smell, and taste.
Mature fruits become soft when the cell walls (the outer layer in the plant cell) dissolve by several enzymes.
It is a genetically determined process in the plants, or simply to say, it is etched in the plant’s genes.
Once the fruit ripens, it becomes suitable for consumption. However, it immediately becomes susceptible to spoilage and decaying.
But, you can delay the spoilage by storing or refrigerating the fruits at a temperature of around 32-38°F.
Hence, it is easy to observe that many fruits ripen much faster on the counter (at room temperature) than inside the fridge.
What Conditions Affect Ripening Of Fruits?
It is clear that internal hormonal changes and plant genetic structure can decline or increase the rate of fruit ripening.
But several factors directly or indirectly affect fruit ripening, such as light, temperature, humidity, pests and diseases, excess or fewer nutrients, etc.
1. Environmental Factors
Abiotic stresses, such as light, temperature, and humidity, comprise environmental factors that can affect the fruit ripening processes.
- Light doesn’t directly affect fruit ripening, but creates warmth, encouraging the fruits to ripen faster.
- It is observable that fruits produce Ethylene gas profusely within a temperature range between 57°F and 64°F.
- A 2019 article cited that high humidity increases the firmness of fruits and a surge in Ethylene production.
2. Pests & Diseases
Many pests and diseases attack the ripe fruits and accelerate the rotting or decaying process.
- If the fruit is not ripening, diseases like ripe fruit rot can affect them, spreading as dark brown circular spots or lesions from the bottom.
- Rhizopus Rot is a post-harvest storage problem that causes the decaying tissue to turn watery, with white mycelium growing on the top of the fruits, causing them to overripe.
- Furthermore, pests cause mechanical damage by piercing the soft fruit tissues and thus making the fruit softer, excreting various secretions.
However, pests and diseases render the fruits useless, making them unpalatable.
Do You Know?
Fig wasps play an important role in pollinating and ripening Fig fruits.
Female Fig wasps enter inside the fruits to lay eggs, assisting in pollination, after which the fruits ripen.
3. Nutrient Irregularities
Potassium is the key nutrient in plants that stimulates flowering and fruiting.
Hence, the flowering and fruiting process in the plants becomes slower and ultimately halts without potassium. Further, too much nitrogen will cause the plant to divert its energy for foliar growth instead of flowering and fruiting.
This will affect the yield and fruit production, leading to losses.
How Do You Ripen Fruits Indoors?
You can ripen climacteric fruits indoors at room temperature and keep them at low temperatures.
Additionally, you can ripen the non-climacteric fruits, but ensure not to overripen them.
The key to fruit ripening is to capture the Ethylene gas produced by the fruits, making them ripe.
Nevertheless, follow these key tips to ripen your fruits indoors.
- Keep the fruits inside an air-tight paper, plastic, or ziplock bag at room temperature.
- Additionally, take a plastic bag and place your fruit alongside a single banana or apple to boost ethylene production.
From Editorial Team
If you keep the fruits in a plastic or paper bag for ripening, check often to see whether they are rotten or overripe.
Also, discard any damaged or rotting fruits and avoid keeping them together with healthy ones.