How to Make Fruits and Veggies Stay Fresh Longer
Fruits and vegetables are a delicious, refreshing and healthy addition to your diet. However, they aren’t cheap — and they have a limited shelf life. Save money, enjoy fresh food and reduce your household waste by using these six easy tips to keep your produce from spoiling.
Some produce lasts longer in the refrigerator, while other foods should remain at room temperature. Berries, cut produce, greens, carrots and celery should be refrigerated. Tomatoes, cucumbers, bananas, stone fruits, avocados, apples and potatoes can remain outside of the fridge. Just make sure you keep potatoes in the dark — light exposure can cause them to turn green and sprout.
Make lettuce last
Salad greens have a notoriously short shelf life. You can extend this by keeping them from getting too moist. To absorb excess moisture, put a clean, dry paper towel inside the bag or clamshell of greens. Replace the paper towel when it’s too damp to be absorbent.
Some vegetables will wilt or become limp and unappetizing without a bit of hydration. To keep asparagus fresh, cut off the ends and store it upright in a jar of water, as if the stalks were fresh-cut flowers. Before cooking, trim the ends again. Baby carrots, celery sticks and other cut vegetables stay crisp and tasty when stored in water. However, it’s a good idea to change the water every other day to prevent bacterial buildup.
Wash before storing
Some delicate produce items should remain cool, dry and unwashed until you’re ready to serve them. If you want your grapes, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries to last longer, spritz them with a 1:3 mix of vinegar and water. The vinegar kills mold spores that can lead to spoilage. Rinse well and allow them to dry thoroughly. If you don’t allow these items to dry before storing them, the excess moisture can encourage bacterial growth.
Inspect and protect
Before purchasing a bag or carton of produce, inspect the goods. Avoid buying a package that contains food that’s moldy, spotty or wilted. You should also regularly examine the bags or cartons of produce you have in the refrigerator, and dispose of anything that appears to be expired. One moldy berry can infect the other, so a bit of diligence can go a long way to keep your food from spoiling quickly.
While apples may lend a deliciously fresh scent to your fruit bowl, the gases they give off can cause other produce to prematurely ripen and spoil. Other ethylene-producing foods include bananas, tomatoes and uncut melons. It’s a good idea to store these foods away from sensitive produce like cucumbers, berries and potatoes. Exposure to ethylene can cause potatoes to sprout eyes and become inedible. However, if you’re looking to speed up the ripening process of stone fruits like nectarines, apricots and peaches, put an apple inside of a paper bag with the unripe fruit. The unripe produce should become soft and sweet within a matter of days.
By forming a few new habits, it’s easy to keep fruits and vegetables on the menu and out of the trash bin. If you’re ever unsure about the freshness of produce, err on the side of caution. It’s better to throw away a few berries than make yourself sick.
This article is presented by Pegues Hurst Ford.