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Banana Ripening

 

Ripening Room design for bananas are important:
  1. Ripening rooms are very important for proper and efficient banana ripening; not just any room will suffice. A commercial ripening room must have the following:

  2. The room must be as air tight as possible to prevent ethylene loss.  This also prevents ethylene from entering unwanted areas (like other banana rooms or cold storage rooms holding ethylene-sensitive items).

  3. The room must be properly insulated to be able to control the temperature within a degree or so.

  4. The room must have adequate refrigeration capacity to accurately control pulp temperature.

  5. The room may need heating equipment in order to maintain proper room temperature in cold weather.

  6. The room must have adequate air circulation. Because uniform pulp temperatures throughout the load are essential for even ripening, the refrigerated air in the room must circulate at all times and uniformly throughout the load. For pressurized, forced air ripening rooms, this is typically inherent in the design.  However, for non-pressurized rooms, the boxes of bananas should be "air stacked". That is, the boxes should be offset to allow the air to circulate among all the boxes since a non-pressurized room design will not pass air through boxes but around them.

 

Important reminders when ripening:

 Monitor pulp temperatures closely:

  • Avoid "chilling" or "cooking" the fruit. Bananas are very sensitive to temperatures. Chilling will occur if the fruit is subject to temperatures below 56°F (13°C) for several hours. It causes the peel to have a smoky, dull gray appearance. This may not show up for 18 to 24 hours after chilling occurs. 

  • Cooked bananas result from excessively high temperatures; avoid temperatures above 65°F (18°C). The peel will have a brown to orange appearance. The fruit may be soft and have a short shelf life.

 

Maintain proper humidity levels:

  • For best ripening results, humidity should be 85 to 95%. If the humidity is too low, install a humidifier; wetting the floor of the room with water may increase the humidity but may cause sanitation issues.

 

When ready to ripen:
  • Determine how in how many days the room of bananas will be needed; raise pulp temperatures to at least 58°F (14°C).

 

  • Follow proven ripening schedules (like the one above) to adjust daily pulp temperatures.  No chart however can account for the unique differences in every load of bananas that will be ripened.  Frequent inspection of pulp softening and color change followed by temperature adjustments are vital to proper color achievement.

 

  • Apply 100 - 150 ppm ethylene for a minimum of 24 hours during the initial phase of the ripening cycle.  Fruit that is less mature may take an additional 24 hours of ethylene application.

Please note that there are reports of bananas responding better to higher ethylene levels.  While 100 ppm is the accepted standard to initiate ripening and ethylene production in bananas, there are some companies that require their ripening personnel to use 300+ ppm, saying that today's banana ripens quicker and more uniformly with this higher level.  If you are having difficulty with bananas ripening properly, verifying current ethylene levels and then perhaps increasing them may resolve ripening issues. There are other factors that cause poor ripening, like inadequate humidity and immature fruit; ethylene is not always the culprit.

 

  • When bananas are ripening, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) which will build up in a ripening room. The  production begins as the fruit ripens enters the “climacteric” phase, or the period when bananas release ethylene and and have an elevated rate of respiration (along with a great deal of other physiological changes). Respiration involves the uptake of oxygen, the release of carbon dioxide, and the breakdown of starches. Carbon dioxide concentrations above 1% (10,000 ppm) will retard ripening, delay the effects of ethylene and cause quality problems. Therefore, it is recommended to vent rooms by opening the doors for 20 minutes every 12 hours, after the first 24 hours of ripening. Other venting methods are by automatic fan (either timed or sensor-based) or "flow-though" (constant) ventilation.

 

Shipping suggestions
  • Bananas bruise easily, green or ripe. Careful handling at all stages will reduce bruising and enable you to sell the bananas for more money.

  • Bananas also chill easily, as described above.  If shipping on a mixed load at temperatures lower than 55°F (12.8°C), the it is highly suggested to use Pallet Covers to protect the fruit by holding pulp temperatures above 56°F (13°C).

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

* For a complete line of supplies for ripening, including pulp thermometers and firmness testers, visit QA Supplies.

 

For ethylene generators, visit Catalytic Generators.

Information on this site is amassed from a diverse number of sources. While we have made great effort to provide accurate and current ripening techniques, we make no warranties regarding these recommendations or the applicability of such information to a particular ripening operation. Please note that we do not provide these recommendations as a replacement for technical ripening experts; if having ripening problems or starting a ripening program, we suggest that professionals be consulted.

One of the best tools to use when ripening bananas is a color chart.  This one not only provides the standard 1 - 7 colors but also recommended temperatures for ripening based on days.

 

Banana Color Chart