If mixed storage of fruits and vegetables cannot be avoided, use it only for short periods — a few days to a week — and store only those fruits and vegetables that are compatible. Longer mixed storage should not be used because of:
- tainting from odours
- effects of ethylene on quality
- incompatible common temperature and relative humidity requirements.
Four practical storage environments for holding fruits and vegetables in mixed storage for short periods only are for:
- temperate fruits and vegetables not sensitive to cold
- fruits and vegetables moderately sensitive to cold
- most tropical fruit and vegetables sensitive to cold
- open storage — where foodstuffs can be stored but with some reduction of storage life.
Some fruits and vegetables are sensitive to low temperatures which cause 'chilling injury' if they are stored below their critical temperature.
The transfer of odours between produce in the same room can be a problem.
Do not store:
- apples and pears with celery, cabbage, carrot, potato or onion
- celery and carrots with onions
- onion, garlic, citrus or potato with any other type of produce.
For example, apples and pears take on a disagreeable colour and taste when stored with potatoes. The odour of apple, citrus, onion, garlic and some tropical fruit — for example, jackfruit and durian — is readily absorbed by other produce.
Sensitivity to ethylene
Ethylene gas (C2H4) is a hormone that stimulates fruit ripening and senescence. It also has a harmful effect on vegetables, for example, yellowing of broccoli and pitting of lettuce. Do not store ethylene-producing products and ethylene-sensitive products together.
Lettuce, carrots, broccoli and some flowers deteriorate rapidly if stored with pears, apples, bananas, avocados, peaches, plums and other produce that give off ethylene.