These days, fresh produce is even more important to keep us all healthy and lift our mood. It can be confusing to figure out how to store fruits and vegetables, and the best ways to keep produce fresh and tasty. Here are a few tips to start you off.
- Split Em Up. It’s true - while fruits and vegetables can go great in a salad or main dish, they should be stored separately in the crisper. Apples, in particular, produce ethylene gas which can ripen all other foods quickly.
- Dry Off. Be sure to dry your washed produce to keep the moisture from ripening it early, or getting it mushy or moldy.
- Counter It. Many fruits and some root vegetables should not be put into the fridge, but instead stored in a cool, dry place. The exception is apples, which tend to ripen ten times faster at room temperature.
- Once you cut it, keep it cold. As a general rule of thumb, after you cut or peel your produce, be sure it goes straight to the fridge to ward off bacteria and keep it fresh longer.
- Move It When Ripe. When your fruits are fully ripe on the counter, they can be moved to the refrigerator, which will then slow the ripening process.
- Shop more frequently. When possible, a few quick trips to the Farmer’s Market or grocery to buy produce in smaller amounts helps to keep it as fresh as possible and cuts down on waste.
- Don't Spoil the Fun. Once you notice overripe produce, be sure to move them immediately so it doesn’t spoil the other fruit and vegetables that it may be stored with. You can compost anything too spoiled or check out this blog post for ideas of how to use them rather than throwing them out!
- Chill Out. Freeze fruits and vegetables at peak freshness for use later. For example, peel and freezing brown, overripe bananas to use at a later time in smoothies.
- Proper Airflow. If you’re storing your produce in the refrigerator, using a breathable bag or dish works best to allow produce to make sure produce isn't spoiling too quickly.
For a really easy reference, check out this flyer from “Half Your Plate”, a public health initiative in Canada designed to help people eat more produce. Or check out these graphics from Imperfect Foods and read more about food storage on their site. We know it can be tricky to figure out all of the rules for keeping everything fresh, but learning what to store where will help you enjoy your foods more and reduce less - a win, win!
[Images from Imperfect Foods]
Article written by Solana Center volunteer Cyndi.