Can One Bad Apple Really Spoil A Whole Barrel? We Found Out

What applies in your kitchen also applies to your friends.

As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, HuffPost Taste will focus the entire month of July on simple ways you can reduce food waste in your own home.

altrendo images via Getty Images

The proverb “one bad apple spoils the barrel” is often times used to describe a person who’s a bad influence, but it turns out it can be used literally, too. Because one bad, overripe or moldy apple really can cause all the other apples around it to spoil. Ethylene gas ― a naturally occurring gas that causes fruit to ripen ― is to blame.

Riper pieces of fruit emit more ethylene than unripe fruits, leading to an over-concentration of the gas and signaling all the fruit around it to over-ripen as well.

The same is true for mold. One moldy apple can lead to a bunch of moldy apples, because the mold will spread looking for a new food source.

In other words, if you see a bad apple in your fruit basket, get rid of it ASAP. Save your other apples from a much-too-early end. While you’re at it, be sure you’re not storing the wrong fruits together and sabotaging everything you have in your fruit basket. And be sure not to wash your fruit before you refrigerate it, either. (We know, that’s a lot of rules.)

Take Action Now
Join thousands of Americans calling on Congress to pass Rep. Pingree's Food Recovery Act.
Sign the petition at
Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Imperfect Produce

Companies That Fight Food Waste


MORE IN Food & Drink