How disappointing when a trip to the grocery store for a favorite fruity treat results only in a bag of unripe fruit! Turn that disappointment into an opportunity for science with this fruit ripening experiment!
Fruit Ripening Experiment
This fruit-based science experiment is very easy and the best part is the tasty treat reward for young scientists when they finish collecting their data! We used pears for this project, but you could use any fruit you wish.
What you need:
- Underripe pears, or other fruit
- Paper bag
- 1 apple
Label the paper bag with the date.
Place half the pears in the paper bag with an apple. Set aside on the counter.
Place the remaining pears out on the counter.
Check the pears every day to see which ripens faster.
Optional: Each day, when you check the pears for ripeness, record your findings on a chart, noting if any of the pears appear to be ripening. Are they getting softer? Are the pears changing color?
We decided that the pears in the bag ripened only one day sooner than those on the the counter. However, as we didn't eat them all on the first day, we also observed that the difference in ripeness became more pronounced the longer we let the pears ripen.
In any case, we gobbled them up!
Why does fruit ripen faster in a paper bag?
Of course, young scientists will want to know the science behind the fruit ripening experiment!
It has to do with ethylene gas! Some fruits produce ethylene gas as they ripen. It just so happens that both pears and apples produce ethylene gas. (Perhaps we should do the experiment without an apple and compare results!)
The paper bag traps the ethylene gas produced by the fruit. The fruit becomes surrounded with higher levels of the gas than normal, which speeds up the ripening process
Not every fruit ripens faster in a paper bag. A great extension project would be to determine which fruits ripen faster in a paper bag and which ones do not!
Books about Pears
Book titles are affiliate links.
Mr Putter and Tabby Pick the Pearsby Cynthia Rylant is one of the funniest books in this easy reader series! My kids laugh and laugh as Mr. P. and Tabby slingshot pears over the fence.
Too Many Pears! by Jackie French. I love this book about Pamela, the pear-loving cow. Pamela can't stop eating pears and she'll do anything to keep eating her favorite fruit.
First published 2010, updated 2023.