Why Do Fruits Ripen so Quickly When Placed in Paper Bags?

I’ve always heard that you can accelerate the ripening of fruits by placing them in paper sacks. I know from personal experience that this works quite well, but why is this? The curious side of me can’t help but wonder what is so special about paper sacks.

Why is it that fruits ripen when placed in paper sacks? Learn the science behind this kitchen trick.

According to this cooking website, paper sacks trap a gas around fruits that accelerates their ripening. Fruits begin producing this gas (ethylene) when they are picked or when the weather signals them to begin ripening.

When you place a piece of fruit in a loosely closed paper sack, this gas becomes trapped and speeds up ripening. Plastic sacks (or tightly closed paper sacks) are less effective because they trap in moisture, promoting the growth of mold.

It is useful to note that apples produce a lot of ethylene. If they are placed in a paper bag with other fruits, the other fruits will ripen very quickly.

Fascinating, isn’t it? I love learning the science behind tricks we use in our everyday lives. Would you like to learn the science behind any tricks you use in the kitchen?

Shared at the following link parties:

Inspiration Spotlight, Blog Fair, Making Your Home Sing, Tuesdays with a Twist, and Weekend Wind Down.


  1. The science behind this kitchen trick is so cool! I had no idea about the apples-that is an incredibly handy tip! Thanks for sharing!

    • Isn’t it? Since writing this post I have added apples to bags of fruit that I needed to ripen quickly and it seems to help.

  2. Wow it indeed is fascinating! 🙂

  3. Happy weekend Shannon. I used this trick recently for pears that just wouldn’t ripen on the counter. I used a banana but made the error of closing the paper bag too tightly, and in a few days the pears were beyond ripe. Off to the compost bin. Darn. Have a great weekend!

    • Oh no! Personally, I find it somewhat difficult to tell when a pear is ripe. I tend to cut into them when they are just a little too firm or just a little too soft. They still taste okay as long as they are not beyond ripe like your pears.
      I’m glad you’ll at least get some benefit from your pears via the compost!

  4. My daughter and I were just talking about this last night – wondering why people used paper bags – now we know!!

  5. Will have to remember this the next time I need to ripen something – I wonder if it works with avocados? It is also good to remember the opposite – don’t store fruit with apples as they will ripen too quickly!

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