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The Magic of Ethylene

The Magic of Ethylene The Magic of Ethylene

My poor plants.

The tomato plants have become leggy and haven't given me a ripe tomato in days. They live against the south side of the house and might not get enough sun. Or something.

I picked what was hanging, and they are still sitting on the kitchen counter green as ever.

I learned something about tomatoes by learning something about bananas.

Banana sandwiches might be something like sweet iced tea, a Southern thing.

You see versions of banana sandwiches at church homecoming dinners, but I've never seen one out of the South.

A sweetly ripe banana is heaven on bread as a banana sandwich, either with mayonnaise spread edge to edge or with one side loaded with peanut butter.

How you slice your banana is your business, but I like mine longitudinally.

I noticed that all the bananas in the grocery store are about the same color.

It seems that some would ripen before others, but they are picked while still green as a frog but at a desirable size.

In the 'ripening room' of a large packing warehouse, they are exposed to a plant hormone ethylene, a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas that starts the ripening process. Soon the bananas start producing their own ethylene and ripen each other.

If you have green bananas, you can put them in a bag and the skin will produce its own ethylene or mate them up with a ripe apple to help them along.

I am now trying to boost the tomatoes with an apple that is entirely too ripe for anything else.

The way one bad apple spoils the whole bunch is because it produces copious amounts of ethylene.

Tomatoes are supposed to produce their own ethylene, but this has been a fool's errand.

This is not new knowledge. Folks have known for thousands of years that vegetables and fruits could be selectively ripened, they just didn't know why.

Lemon growers stored their green, freshly picked fruit in sheds warmed by kerosene heaters until they turned yellow.

When one farmer switched to a gas heating system, he found his lemons didn't turn yellow at all, and he was left with green lemons.

This was a clue that there was something in burning kerosene that ripened their fruit. It was the ethylene.

I want to use the tomatoes whether they ripen or not.

Can you say “fried green tomatoes” for supper?

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