A Conversation for Bananas
Banana ripening process
Researcher 239454 Started conversation Aug 19, 2003
I just came back from visiting a banana ripening plant.
So I take the freedom to add the following:
Bananas get cut off the tree, well it's not a tree really, more a stem, as bananas are from the family of the grasses, which was stunning for me to learn, but anyway: bananas get cut off the whatevertheygrowon when they are still green. If you wouldn't cut them off, they would continue to grow quite a bit.
Since 1960 they are packed into special cardboard boxes right on the plant. For one this saves space for shipping and for another this makes the ripening process easier as the design of the banana boxes ensures that air can flow through them, even when they are stacked.
If you are in Europe, the the bananas have been on a ship for about five to six days when they arrive (usually in the Netherlands). On the ship, they stay refrigerated at 14°C to 15°C.
From the ship they get dispatched to refrigerated trucks in which those bananas travel to special facilities for ripening.
Essentially a ripening facility consists of a lot of air conditioned storage. The palletts of banana boxes (each pallett carries 48 boxes containing 18kg bananas each) are stored in one of these spaces, which essentially look like a garage.
The bananas that arrive here are still green, smell like cucumbers and taste unbelievably horrible.
Once put in the garage the bananas get cooled back down to about 15°C to ensure an even temperature for the whole batch. Then the ripening folks flood the garage with a gas mixture of nitrogen and ethylene for 12 hours, which triggers the ripening process.
If they wouldn't do that, it would take the bananas more than eight days to turn anywhere near yellow.
The bananas ripen in about 3 to 4 days at 18°C and then they get cooled back to 15° so they don't get all yellow before they get into the stores.
So much for the ripening...
Oh, before I forget: one carton of bananas goes for about 6 dollars
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