If you’re looking to add more plant-based foods to your plate, you probably have tons of fresh produce in your fridge as we speak. But how often are you throwing out your fruits and vegetables because they went bad before you could eat them? Here are the best ways to store fruits and vegetables.
The change starts with you – so take a few steps within your own household to reduce your produce waste. In this blog, we’ll cover why food goes bad and how you can store your produce to avoid it.
What Makes Produce go Bad?
Ethylene is a gas that is naturally produced by certain fruits and vegetables. This gas can cause other, more sensitive produce like broccoli and greens to spoil faster, so it’s important to keep them apart.
The following produce emits ethylene; apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, kiwis, and papayas. Therefore, keep them away from other produce to slow down spoilage.
If you need help planning your meals, this meal planning app can help you save time, money, and food waste.
Best Ways to Store Fruits & Vegetables
Produce that Belongs in the Fridge
Apples, asparagus, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh herbs, grapefruit, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, lemons, lettuce, limes, mushrooms, oranges, peas, peppers, and zucchini are all produce that needs to be refrigerated.
Produce that Belongs on the Counter
Store avocados, apricots, plums, nectarines, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, melons, oranges, pears, peaches, and tomatoes at room temperature on the counter and then move to the fridge, once they are ripe. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place the fruit in a paper bag. Once ripe, store in the fridge.
Produce to Store in the Pantry
Keep garlic, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes out of the refrigerator, stored in a cool, dark place with air circulation. Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be kept in higher humidity, while onions and garlic prefer lower humidity. Be sure to keep the onions away from the potatoes, as they produce ethylene and potatoes are sensitive to the gas.
Winter squash, acorn, butternut squash, or pumpkins may also be stored with potatoes.
Produce you Should Not Freeze
Freezing most vegetables at home is a fast, convenient way to preserve produce at its peak maturity and nutritional quality. But, it’s not ideal for all foods.
Avocados, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, onions, garlic, leafy greens, radishes, potatoes, and sprouts, are not freezer-friendly produce and I avoid freezing them.
6 Tips for Storing Fresh Produce
1. Store fruits and vegetables separately. Certain produce can give off gases that can cause others to deteriorate.
2. Wash dark leafy greens in cold water before storing them in the fridge, if you intend to eat them soon. Moisture can shorten their freshness window, so you may want to avoid washing until you’re ready to use. If washing first, dry well and store in a dishtowel, in a sealed container.
3. Plastic bags with tiny vents help keep produce fresh longer by releasing moisture. They are great for grapes, blueberries, cherries, or strawberries. Or you can store them, in an airtight container with a towel on the bottom to absorb moisture. Wash before eating.
4. Fresh herbs should be washed and dried thoroughly, before placing the stems in a mason jar with water. Wrap them in a paper towel before placing them in the fridge.
5. Store mushrooms in a paper bag, in the fridge. Wash only before use.
6. Store unwashed produce like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, and peppers in a plastic bag or airtight container. Wash before use.
Having fresh produce on hand is so important to preparing healthy, nutritious meals. Improper food storage in the fridge can impact the flavor and force you to toss it out. When stored properly, you can avoid food waste and get the most value for your money.
Although it can seem complicated at first, if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll find that storing your produce for optimum freshness will become second nature.
Take some time to organize your fridge and pantry today. When food is fresh and colorful, we look forward to cooking with it. Also, keep in mind to clean your fridge regularly.
If you are looking for some culinary inspiration, you can check out this Free Culinary Mini-Training. Happy cooking!
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