One bad apple can really spoil the bunch and the same may be said for bananas, cantaloupes, and a number of other fruits and vegetables. It is all due to a plant hormone called ethylene.
Ethylene is a natural plant hormone released in the form of a gas. It triggers cells to degrade, fruit to turn softer and sweeter, leaves to droop, and seeds or buds to sprout. While some fruits and vegetables are high ethylene producers, others are more sensitive to it.
You can use this knowledge to extend the life of your produce by keeping certain items separate in the fruit bowl or refrigerator drawer. Ethylene is the reason you should not store onions and potatoes together. Ethylene may also be used when you want to accelerate ripening. This is the principle behind placing unripe fruit inside a paper bag or other closed container, which concentrates the ethylene. Adding another high ethylene fruit, such as a ripe apple or banana, may also speed up the process.
Ethylene producing foods include: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, green onions, guavas, grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, potatoes, prunes, quince, and tomatoes.
Ethylene sensitive foods include: Asparagus, blackberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, watercress, and watermelon.
Bottom line, separate your fruits and veggies to let them ripen naturally, unless you are in a hurry, then pair them up to speed the process.