Why does fruit and veg go off so fast?

  JanetO 12:53 02 Jul 2008

I'm thinking of buying our fruit 'n veg from an organic delivery company because whatever supermarket we buy from the produce starts off nice and crisp and within a few days deteriates very quickly. I'm sure it never used to be like this. Is it because it's irradiated? Am I the only one to think this?

  Covergirl 13:01 02 Jul 2008

Milk used to be delivered to your doorstep in the morning and if it was left out of the fridge it was 'off' the next day.
Now we've got "Sell By" dates of up to 10 days (maybe more) so what's going in here ? Maybe it's just advances in hygiene . . ? Maybe there are some additives we're not in on ?

As for fruit & veg; I find things like pears are usually rock hard and under ripe from Tesco but within a week they are showing all the signs of the bruising they took during delivery/handling and are getting very soft and overripe.

I don't know about irradiation - lots of talk but do they have to tell you or not ?

  Cymro. 13:03 02 Jul 2008

"within a few days deteriorates very quickly"

Perhaps you are not storing it properly?
A cool and dark place is best but I am not too sure about putting it in the fridge as some fruit keeps better not placed in a fridge.

  hssutton 13:07 02 Jul 2008

I think it's due to all the washing and preparation that takes place before it arrives at the supermarket. Probably past it's best by the time you buy the produce.

I live in Lincolnshire and manage to buy virtually straight from the field and so do not have this problem.

  jtt 13:08 02 Jul 2008

I would check your fridge temperature. I've known old fridges to gradually get worse over time very slowly, so you don't realise that they are quite a bit warmer than it should be.

  bjh 13:31 02 Jul 2008

Fruit is often stored under controlled conditions by the supermarkets and, by doing so, they can store fruit for much longer than the "normal" household or local greengrocer/market stall. Humidity, temperature and gas levels are monitored and regulated. The atmosphere is usually increased CO2 and reduced O2 (with removal of ethene from ripening fruit (hence ripen unripe cherries in a paper bag!)).... Then, when ripe fruit is required, ethene is squirted in and... ripe fruit when they want it!

However, this often means that fruit in supermarkets is often pre-super-ripened... You get it and it feels solid, but it "knows" it should be ripe (ie. cells are pre-primed, not that the fruit has an IQ of 107) and goes for it. Before you remember your bowl of rock-hard pears on the dresser, they have turned to mush!

Another problem is the desire for clean and shiny fruit and veg. Everything gets scrubbed. That removes the finest hairs on the surface, causing minute damage suitable for mould and bacteria to enter the fruit/veg.

Quite a few fruits should NOT be kept in a fridge. Bananas are certainly one, and tomatoes are another. An extreme example: put a banana in the freezer for 10 mins, and then watch it collapse over the next few hours. Chilling exacerbates ethene production, freezing sends it into overdrive....

A ripe banana will help unripe fruit to ripen (and you can just use the skin and eat the centre). Put a banana in with rock hard pears (brown paper bag is best) and the pears will quickly ripen.

  JanetO 13:54 02 Jul 2008

Another reason could be the age of the produce. Some say our apples can be up to 10 months old!

When I visit friends in rural Kenya you buy your supper from the stalls on the way home from town. Talapia fish is a day old, as are all the fruit and veg. And you can really taste the difference too.

  dms_05 14:04 02 Jul 2008

Ethylene is the ripening gas of choice. Most fruit produce ethylene as they ripen so wholesalers can fill a warehouse with ethylene when they are about to ship the fruit to the retailer so it arrives in a condition where the customer can use it almost immediately. If you left a warehouse full of bananas they would also fill the void with ethylene, the trick is to increase the concentration to the same level. Notable failures, when artificially increasing the ethylene level have resulted in the warehouse burning down.

  €dstowe 14:15 02 Jul 2008

I'm lucky enough to live near the South coast where a lot of the salad vegetables and fruit are grown for the supermarket trade.

I can get a lot of my food before it goes through the "treatments" necessary for a supermarket to accept it. I can also buy misshapes and under/over size ones at a very good price. I can also wash the muck off with a lot more care than a machine can so my purchases stay fresh much longer - not that I buy a lot at a time. I believe in buying enough for what I want and not storing things for weeks in the bottom of the fridge gradually turning to an unidentifiable mush.

  DieSse 14:32 02 Jul 2008

I saw some bags on one of the TV shopping channels, which claim to absorb ethylene, and so keep fresh produce fresh for very long periods. No special sealing or vacuum, they just mop up the ethylene.

Their claims, not mine.

click here

  peter99co 15:45 02 Jul 2008

I have just ordered the bags you refer to and the carbon lining is to mop up ethelene. They are for root crops and potatoes.

Salad should be washed and put in a microfibre bag which mops up the excess water and keeps the salad crisp and dry.

I will post if I get a good result or otherwise

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