To determine if we could achieve even better results by storing potatoes with an apple, we stored two 5-pound bags of russet potatoes, one with an apple and the other without, in a dry, dark, cool, well-ventilated spot and checked on both bags every other day for eight weeks. The potatoes in both bags looked fine until the three-week point, when one of the potatoes stored without the apple began to sprout. Two weeks later all but one of the potatoes stored without the apple had sprouted.
By comparison, the potatoes stored with the apple remained firm and free of sprouts, though a great deal of condensation had built up in the bag. At the eight-week point the potatoes without the apple were largely soft, shriveled, and sad looking. The potatoes stored with the apple, on the other hand, were mostly firm (small soft spots had developed on two of them) and looked good.
Dr. Greg Porter, associate professor of agronomy, and Dr. Alfred Bushway, professor of food science and human nutrition, both at the University of Maine in Orono, concurred that the ripe apple gives off ethylene gas as it respires. Simply put, the ethylene gas, as well as other organic alcohols emitted by the apple, suppresses the elongation of the potatoes’ cells, which is what causes the sprouts to form.
- from cook’s illustrated
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