Earlier this week I came home with a bag of carrots from the grocery store. It was disappointing; every carrot in the bag was bitter tasting. This reminded me of the experience I had many years ago as a new gardener.
Back then I had a plan to grow enough fruit and vegetables to last through the winter. I grew carrots, cabbage, onions, apples and some other produce I wanted to put into storage. I built a small storage space and carefully put my produce away.
All of the fruit and vegetables I was storing had similar storage requirements. They needed a temperature around 32 F and fairly high humidity. It made sense to me to store them all together in the same space.
Later in the winter I took out some carrots to use. They all had that bitter, almost soapy flavor. Later I learned that apples give off ethylene gas. The ethylene caused the carrots to form chemical compounds called terpenes. Those terpenes were the source of the bitter flavor.
Somewhere along the line, the carrots I bought this week must have been exposed to ethylene; probably from apples in a cooler.
That’s a good reason why you shouldn’t store apples and carrots together in the same refrigerator drawer; especially if you don’t plan to use them right away.