Do the new “green bags” really keep food fresh?

The “green bags” are designed for fruits and vegetables that ripen by the production of the plant hormone, ethylene. Ethylene gas is produced in copious quantities by certain fruits, most notably bananas. As the concentration of ethylene gas increases in an enclosed environment, the fruit ripens faster. Removal of ethylene helps keep fruits from over-ripening quickly. The green bags are made of a polymer that allows the escape of the gas while keeping others, and some of them actually use additives to the film to absorb other gases that promote ripening or deterioration. 

The green bags do work for certain types of produce. Some caveats–the shelf life is extended as long as the product is very dry (mold growth appears to be a problem in damp produce). Also, the bags have a shelf life and can only be reused 10 times. If you intend to eat a product quickly, say strawberries, it might not make economic sense to use the green bag when normal plastic film would work.   

-contributed by Sam Beattie, ISU Food Safety Extension Specialist

7 thoughts on “Do the new “green bags” really keep food fresh?

  1. I have had wonderful experience with the green bags. I live alone and using up produce for me was always a problem, I always wasted some. I am sold on the green bags because I don’t have that problem now.

    For strawberries, I take the plastic wrap or the plastic lid off of the carton and set the whole plastic basket/container of unwashed berries in the green bag. This seems to at least double the refrigerator life of the strawberries.

    I tested the bag with a head of iceberg lettuce that had actually started to be less than perfect. I removed the outer leaves that were brown and stuck the remainder of the head in the green bag and it kept well for several days.

    I also put bagged lettuce in the green bag, once I open the bagged lettuce I fold the bag close and just put the whole bag in the green bag. It was the first time I didn’t throw any bagged lettuce out.

    One thing I do to help the green bags last longer is I try to put produce in them in a dish or on a plate.. keeps the green bag clean.

    I think I’ve saved enough money on the green bags by not throwing away food that I would have wasted before.

    From Bev in Woodbury County

  2. What about the properties of the green tinted bags you get in the produce section of grocery stores now. Do they have the same gas-releasing properties?

  3. Hi Glenda – This would depend on the products being provided by your grocery store. Most of the plastic bags available in grocery stores do not have any special properties. You would be best off asking a staff member at the store. Thanks!

  4. Hi Audrey – This varies by the brand of the bag. For most you just use a twist tie to close the bag.

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