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How to Ripen

The ‘life force’ of fruit & vegetables – what you need to know.


Harvested vegetables are still ‘breathing’ or respiring when they are picked and give off a plant hormone known as ethylene.

There are 4 things to consider:

  1. Light (especially for potatoes);

  2. Temperature;

  3. Moisture in the air;

  4. Air circulation – drying out of the produce.


The cold temperature of your refrigerator slows the respiration of fruit and vegetables.



Don’t wash your vegetables before you put them in the fridge. Water sits on the vegetable or fruit and stops them from ‘breathing’ plus it encourages bacteria to activate which will speed up the wilting process. So leave the dirt on and also leave the outer leaves on – they are nature’s packaging. That’s why we leave as much as possible there for you.


Simple: You need to store fresh produce differently. Not just in the crisper.


  • Keep heavy ‘breathers’ away from ‘light breathers’.

  • Some need humidity, some don’t.

  • Others want a little bit of air flow, others don’t.


Two Display Bowls With Fruit

Keep heavy breathers away from light breathers.

Make up two fruit bowls with high breathers in one (bananas, apples, pears) and low breathers in another.


When to eat your fruit or vegetables:

Sort out those fruit & veg that need to be eaten within a day, those in 2-3 days and so on. A good idea to communicate this to the family or those sharing your food.



Some produce does need storing in the fridge when you get home; others will need ripening. Most ripening can be done naturally by putting the vegetable or fruit in a warm spot (but away from direct sunlight). To speed up the process put it in a paper bag with a naturally high ethelyene producing fruit such as apples, bananas, peaches, pears and tomatoes.  When the fruit is ripe then, store it in the fridge for a few days more until ready to eat.


Freshly picked produce can look very different from store bought because it hasn’t been through  the supply line, distribution centres, coolers holding the produce at a specific temperature. So don’t let the look of the produce fool you. Learn what ripe looks like, feels like and smells like.


For example, oranges can be green but be ripe. Often an orange exposed to sun will protect itself with a green coating whilst it ripens inside. Certain types of pears are meant to be firm on the outside like beurre bosc – leave these too long and you’ll start seeing it rapidly soften.


Don’t store in a crisper in the fridge – unless you know what you want it to do.


There is a difference between ‘humidity drawers’ and a crisper. Humidity draws will allow Airflow reduction or lots of air which is what assists in keeping your fruit and vegetables pristine. If you close off the air you will create humidity but make sure you are putting the right produce in together otherwise it will end up mushy.


Don’t put potatoes in the fridge. Keep potatoes, kumera separate to onions in a cool dark dry spot.


Within the crisper you might need containers ie Carrots do not put them in crisper they will go limp.


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