Great Tips for Keeping Fruits and Veggies Fresh Longer
One of the most important things for living a healthy life is eating healthy food, and that means produce. Lots of produce. But one of the biggest problems with healthy food choices is food spoilage and waste. Delicious fruits and vegetables tend to spoil pretty quickly, which can discourage a lot of folks.
However, hope isn’t lost if you’re trying to get more fruits and veggies in your diet. Here are some easy tips and tricks for keeping your produce fresh and tasty, both in and out of the fridge.
Use Produce Bags for Storage
You may be tempted to store produce in bags. Sealed bags — like zipper seal bags — aren’t a good idea since they trap moisture and air in with your fruits and veggies. This causes the produce items to spoil faster as they sit in this mix of water and air and turn into a feast for bacteria.
Understand and Keep an Eye Out for Cold-Sensitive Produce
There are some fruits and veggies that do fantastic in cold storage areas such as a refrigerator, but others absolutely should not be kept there. Instead, these items should be kept in cool — but not refrigerated or frozen — dark spaces.
Know Which Veggies and Fruits Produce Ethylene
There’s a gas released by certain veggies and fruits called ethylene. It breaks down chlorophyll, which is the chemical that keeps plants green and helps them produce the energy they need to grow and flourish. Because of this, ethylene speeds up the ripening of produce and makes them rot quickly if they are not properly stored.
Know Which Fruits and Veggies Not to Store Together
Not all produce creates and releases ethylene gas. However, even fruits and veggies that don’t produce ethylene themselves may ripen and rot quickly if exposed to the gas. Avoid storing fruits and veggies that are sensitive to ethylene with producers of the gas.
Bananas Should Be Stored With Plastic Wrap on Their Stems
While making banana bread from old, blackened bananas is a great way to use this overripened fruit, the healthiest way to eat bananas is while they’re fresh. You’ve probably noticed that bananas tend to go bad pretty quickly, growing those unappetizing brown spots almost as soon as you bring them home from the supermarket.
Keep an Eye on Your Produce and Move It as Needed
If you notice some of your produce going bad — say, an orange in a bag of oranges — you’ll want to immediately remove the bad piece from the rest of the fruit. Leaving the bad fruit or veggie in with the ones that haven’t spoiled yet will cause them to start rotting as well.
Know When to Refrigerate and When Not to Refrigerate
Some produce should always be refrigerated, while others should never be refrigerated raw. Some are somewhere in between. Those that should never be refrigerated until cut or cooked include melons, squash, cucumbers, garlic, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Storing Leafy Greens Properly Can Keep Them Fresh Longer
The best way to store leafy greens isn’t by throwing them in the fridge the second you get home and waiting to treat them until later. Instead, you should rinse the greens thoroughly. Wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel and dry them as best you can with a bit of patting.
Asparagus Is Best in the Fridge With Moisture
It may seem counterintuitive to store any produce with moisture since what makes many things go bad, but asparagus is a different animal (er, plant) than most. There are a couple of ways to store asparagus to keep it fresh.
Tomatoes Shouldn’t Always Start in the Fridge
If you buy only soft, bright red tomatoes, you should immediately place them in the fridge. If, however, you purchase green, partially green or otherwise firm tomatoes, you should start them out somewhere at room temperature.
Understand the Shelf Life of Your Produce Items
Just as proper storage methods for fruits and veggies change from item to item, different kinds of produce come with different shelf lives. Some may only last for one or two days, while others can be good for a couple months.
Many Vegetables Can Be Frozen Instead of Kept in the Fridge
If you have veggies you’re not going to eat right away, you can always freeze them. It’s a fast and easy method for preserving nutritional content, and the veggies may last for up to a year. However, most kinds of produce should be blanched before they go into the freezer.
Put Grapes on Paper Towels or Freeze Them
Grapes are one of nature’s candies, but they’re notorious for growing mold and turning gross very quickly. The reason? Moisture build-up, since they’re usually still on the vine and collected in a bag together.
Don’t Wash Those Mushrooms ...
For those who love good fungi, mushrooms are a delicious addition to the produce drawer. They come in all shapes and sizes, from Enoki to Portabella, and a wide range of flavors. But one thing all varieties of mushrooms have in common is that they don’t like to be washed before storing.
… or Peppers
Peppers can last for a reasonably long time, but only if they’re stored properly. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy to do. Clean the peppers of debris, but don’t wash them. Then place them in a produce bag or other breathable container.
Keep Your Berries Dry
Berries are a delicate fruit that usually come in containers that aren’t particularly conducive to their preservation. Berries respond terribly to moisture, and these breathable containers expose them to humidity that speeds up their rotting process.
Don’t Refrigerate Citrus Fruit
We tend to keep everything in the fridge, but there are some fruits and vegetables that last longer if they’re not kept in the cold. Citrus fruit is one of them. Instead of putting your citrus in a bowl where they may become moldy, lay them out on the counter instead.
Separate Your Bananas
Another way to preserve those ever-popular yellow fruit is by separating them. The bunches bananas come in are one of the big reasons these delicious, potassium-rich fruits go bad so quickly.
Keep Stone Fruit on the Counter
A lot of times, peaches, nectarines, apricots and other stone fruits are under-ripe when you purchase them from the store. They’re picked, packed and shipped this way to help prevent them from being squishy and soft by the time they make it to your local supermarket.
Use Nylon Stockings for Your Onions
One of the best ways to keep onions is inside of a pair of nylon stockings. The easiest way to do this is with a pair of knee-highs. Place an onion in the toe and tie a knot above it. Place another onion in the next section of nylon and tie another. Repeat as needed.
For Leafy, Fresh Herbs, Think Flower Vase
Similar to asparagus, parsley, cilantro, basil and other leafy green herbs can be kept longer through unconventional storage methods. Before exploring this method, it’s critical to note that these leafy herbs should not be washed until immediately before use in a recipe.
Put Mushrooms and Parsley Together
If you plan on whipping up a tasty recipe using mushrooms and parsley, you can store both items together to help keep them both fresher for longer. Make sure you don’t wash the mushrooms until you’re ready to use them for a meal.
Disinfect Your Strawberries With White Vinegar
You should only wash strawberries right before you eat them, so you often need a bit of a boost to keep them fresh. You can disinfect strawberries with 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water. Remove any molding strawberries first.
Wrap a Cut Lemon in Aluminum Foil
If you’ve cut up a lemon and only used half of it, you don’t want the other half to go to waste. To prevent this, consider wrapping the lemon half in aluminum foil and storing it in the fridge. This can prevent the lemon from losing its color and flavor.
Store Carrots in Water for Freshness
The best way to store carrots is to keep them in water. First, peel and cut the carrots in half so that they fit an airtight container. You can leave them whole if you have a large enough container.
Coat Cut Apples and Avocados in Lime Juice
Almost the second you cut open an avocado or apple, the flesh of the fruit starts to turn brown. This is because the inside of the fruit becomes exposed to oxygen, which releases enzymes in the fruit that speed up the ripening rate.
Keep Your Pineapple Upside Down
If you love keeping this tasty, tropical staple on hand, you’ve probably noticed that pineapples take a while to ripen – and then they quickly grow mold and get mushy. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep them until they mature and prevent the mold from getting nasty.
Revive Wilted Greens Instead of Tossing Them
Lettuce and other greens look great fresh, but if they wind up in the wrong part of the fridge or get a bit too cold, they can wilt on you. The reason for this is often because they lose their moisture.
Prevent Beets From Shriveling and Drying
Beets are a root vegetable that can be stored in a variety of ways. The key to their preservation is cool and dark places where they won’t be exposed to a lot of moisture. If they are exposed, it should only be in a controlled setting, such as in a jar as described above for carrots.
Use Aluminum Foil to Keep Your Celery Crisp and Delicious
Limp celery is a real bummer, and not particularly appetizing. To prevent that unfortunate scenario, use aluminum foil. First, grab a single sheet of foil . Next, break the celery off of the base, but don’t wash it. Wrap the celery pieces in aluminum foil, and you’re done.