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Can one rotten apple really spoil the whole barrel?

The expression "one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel" didn't just come out of nowhere.

Is there any truth to the expression, "one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel"? You bet. Because once an apple is rotten or has physical damage, (ie a bruise), it produces ethylene, which in turn leads to a slightly increased internal temperature causing a breakdown of chlorophyll and the synthesis of other pigments. The starch in the fruit is converted to simple sugars and at the same time, pectin, a component of fiber that cements the cell walls together, begins to disintegrate thereby softening the tissue. Once this happens, it starts a chain reaction, stimulating the process in other apples.

This ripening and/or spoiling is usually undesired. Unless, of course, you want to ripen bananas. How? Well, put a green banana in a bag with a ripe, cut-up apple and watch what happens. Tada! The banana will turn yellow. This ripening process can also be carried out commercially, where easily perishable and long distance-travelling produce such as bananas and tomatoes, can be picked before they are ripe and then treated with ethylene gas on route to their destination.


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