Bluapple

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

Will it work on a boat?So what’s a Bluapple?  Three months ago, Belinda left a note via Facebook that she used a “Blue Apple” in the refrigerator with her produce and it worked great to keep food from going bad.

Curious, I bought one and began using it.  As with everything, there are pros and cons . . . but the bottom line is that it’s a keeper.

Overall, I’ve been quite impressed at how long my produce has lasted, but you still have to start with food that’s in good condition, with no bruises or soft spots.  The down side is that it has required me to make some changes in how I’ve arranged the refrigerator.

The Bluapple is a small plastic container — a little smaller than a tennis ball — with a replaceable packet inside.  The packet absorbs ethylene gas, which foods produce as they ripen and which also causes nearby produce to ripen . . . or over-ripen.  You put the Bluapple in with your veggies to absorb the ethylene, and replace the little packet every 3 months.

Basically, ethylene gas is the science behind that “one bad apple” spoiling the whole bunch.  One bit of over-ripe produce will trigger other foods to also over ripen, go bad and rot.

By absorbing the ethylene gas, the chain reaction is halted.  Produce stops its own ripening as well as not affecting other foods nearby.  In the photo above, I’ve had those those mini-peppers almost two weeks and they are still fresh and crispy.

At the same time, however, I still have had a few things go bad.  It seems that food that was bruised when I bought it went on to rot (tomatoes in particular).  A package of carrots still dried out and I had to rehydrate them.

The company recommends using a Bluapple in a crisper drawer of a refrigerator so that it’s not trying to remove ethylene gas from the entire refrigerator.  And it notes that you can’t seal up veggies in plastic bags since the ethylene gas given off has to be able to go from the produce to the Bluapple.  It’s these requirements that I find less than ideal.

For boaters, those requirements may mean some changes in how you store produce in the refrigerator.  Powerboats and catamarans might have crisper drawers, but most monohull sailboats don’t.

I’ve always liked using ventilated open-top bins to store produce, as these allow cold air to circulate but the solid bottom contains any mess if something does rot.  I’ve always put each veggie in its own sealed plastic bag in the tubs.

To use the Bluapple, I left my produce in plastic bags and poked holes in each bag with a fork (some things were purchased in bags or containers that had holes; I just left those in their original packaging).  Then I used some very inexpensive lidded bowls to hold all the bags — long term, I’ll get better lidded containers, but I had these from a sailing club event and I wanted to test the system before buying new bins.  I put as many bags as I could in each bowl, added a Bluapple, put the lid on and put the whole thing in the refrigerator.

If condensation in the refrigerator is a problem where you are, put a couple of paper towels in the bottom of the bin under the bags — they’ll absorb the moisture; you can dry them and re-use them.

What I’ve learned about storing food with the Bluapple:

  • You still need to make sure that food is totally dry before putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Items that are bruised still need to be eaten right away — it won’t extend their life.
  • Be careful how you place things in bins to avoid bruising — the Bluapple doesn’t particularly help bruised produce.
  • The Bluapple really helps with lettuce (if you can keep it from getting bruised), peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and pre-chopped cole slaw and broccoli slaw.  Spinach and other greens also do better than expected, but must be totally dry before putting in the refrigerator.  For pre-washed greens, I find making just a couple of holes in the bag works best — too many, and the greens dry out.
  • I’ve had some good results with mushrooms lasting much longer than expected — 10 days to 2 weeks.  But I’ve also had some go slimy almost immediately.  I think that the ones that went bad quickly were on the verge of being bad when I bought them, since they went bad within a day and a half of buying them.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower seem to last slightly longer, but I don’t notice a huge difference.
  • Carrots and celery did better without the airholes, which lead to dehydration in them.  I’ve stopped storing them with the Bluapple.  Carrots I leave in plastic bags; celery I wrap in foil.
  • Citrus does just as well wrapped in foil and stored outside the refrigerator.

I have not seen the Bluapple in any local stores.  You can get it online both directly from the company and from Amazon.  The price is about the same, although you can get free shipping on Amazon if you’re a Prime member or meet the minimum order size:

Be sure to store the extra packets in a Ziploc or other airtight container — it comes in a foil pouch with a zip top, but I find that the zipper pops open on its own, so put the pouches in a Ziploc instead.  If you have a vacuum sealer, you could seal them, too.

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Comments

  1. I wonder how well they work if refrigeration is not involved? would they work on a semi sealed tub in a cool locker or is temperature a factor? .

    • Temperature is not a factor. They actually say that you can use them at the bottom of a fruit bowl or with bananas in a paper bag, both out of the refrigerator. The big thing is just to have a somewhat confined area for the produce, as otherwise they’ll be trying to pull ethylene out of the atmosphere and will be used up very quickly.

      • Claire Ford says:

        My question is do the ‘apples’ come in plastic? We won’t be taking off until mid-May, so I’m trying to decide when to purchase.

      • We actually keep a medium sized Yeti ice chest in our cockpit that is our vegetable bin. We bought 4 of the reusable ice packs and put 2 in the vegetable cooler and 2 in the freezer, then we swap out the ice packs every morning. This keeps the vegetables cool, but not cold. This, along with a Blue Apple, allows us to have good, fresh vegetables for extended periods of time.

  2. I find that wrapping mushrooms and brocolli is paper towel and then putting an a regular veggie bag from the grocery keeps them from spoiling for about a month.

  3. Did you try this with the green bags?
    Did you compare to how long fruits and vegetables lasted in the green bags?
    Green bags seem easier. ..

  4. Alaskan Gal says:

    I’m wondering if you can use the packets without the bluapple plastic container. For example place a refill packet in the plastic tub of organic greens I buy at Costco, which usually start to rot before I get thru the whole tub. I’m guessing the bluapple keeps the packet from getting wet while allowing airflow, but it uses up valuable space in a boat fridge to do that. Maybe there needs to be enough air flow around the packet to work.

  5. Want to keep your produce in separate bags? Put a bluapple in each bag. I combine all greens, loosely tied if they look too much alike in one container with a loose top, rather than a bag. Since I also store salad greens in a spinner, I’ll toss a bluapple there.
    So, now, my two pack is in use.
    I got plastic Easter eggs on clearance, took a heated nail and made several holes in them. I put the refills in the eggs, making a lot more “bluapples.”

  6. I use a similar product from http://producefreshness.com/ that works as well as what Carolyn describes. The concept is solid and makes a real difference. We get three to four months from a set of refills.

  7. Pas pire.

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