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dear joan,
Please settle an argument between me and my mother. She says that peaches will ripen faster in a brown bag. I say that it won't help a bit. Who's right?
--mom and daughter face off


dear mom and daughter face off,
I hope you didn't wager any money on your bet because you may be out a few bucks. According to the fruit devotees at Produce For Better Health Foundation, peaches emit ethylene gas during ripening. This natural ripening hormone speeds up the process of turning those hard-as-rock peaches into sweet-as-candy delights. By putting the peaches into a loosely closed paper bag, the ethylene gas surrounds the fruits, helping with the ripening process.

However, not all bags are created equal. According to these produce experts, paper bags "breathe" a bit, providing a perfect pouch for the ripening of the fruit. Plastic bags, on the other hand, hold in too much humidity, allowing moisture to build up on the fruit. This can lead to fruit that deteriorates more rapidly.

Beside peaches, other good fruit candidates for paper bag ripening are: apricots, avocados, bananas, kiwifruit, mangoes, honeydew melons, nectarines, papayas, pears, plums, and tomatoes.

I hope I helped referee,

Joan

--Updated: May, 2001