We all know that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.
But did you know that even a good apple as it ripens will ruin a watermelon stored next to it?
It is just one example of how certain types of fruit or vegetable can make others go off too quickly with costly consequences for shoppers.
According to Sainsbury’s, keeping the right kinds together so that they stay fresh longer could save customers as much as £100 (about R2 000) a year by cutting the amount they end up having to throw away.
This is because certain fruit and vegetables produce the gas ethylene during ripening that can reduce the shelf-life of neighbours in the fruit bowl or veg drawer.
The supermarket has compiled a table of the best ones to store together and those to keep apart as part of its Waste less, Save more campaign. Spokesperson Paul Crewe said: “Our guide gives new meaning to the word frenemies, highlighting certain fruits which just don’t get along. Apples and watermelons are long-term enemies while bananas don’t play well with others and should be kept on their own. But cherries are immune to the negative effects of the ethylene produced by others and can therefore be paired with a variety of partners.”
Apples, pears, apricots, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, peaches and plums all produce ethylene as ripening begins, resulting in the changes in texture, softening and colour.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be kept somewhere cool and dark away from such fruit to prevent early sprouting.
Other produce particularly sensitive to ethylene include asparagus, broccoli, carrots, lettuce and green beans. Cherries and blueberries, however, do not produce much ethylene and it doesn’t influence their ripening.
It is estimated that fruit and vegetables costing around £2.6-billion are thrown away uneaten by households in the UK every year.
Tips to extend shelf life include keeping carrots, beetroot and parsnips in the fridge, and refrigerating berries and grapes immediately. Onions and garlic both prefer cool, dark places.