Have you ever bought a bunch of fresh produce, only to have it wilt or rot before you get a chance to eat all of it? Of course you have. We all have. But it’s not totally your fault.
Produce can be pretty picky. Here are some expert hacks to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh, for even longer.
13 Hacks to Keep Your Fruits and Vegetables Fresh
1. Keep Your Fridge Clean
I know… no one likes to clean their refrigerator. But mould encourages mould. Unless you stay on top of spills and anything rotting in there, chances are that the mess will just help new mould to grow and move the mess along. Another thing to consider: Don’t overcrowd your fridge. Open area promotes better airflow and helps keep the temperature at the right level for keeping produce fresh.
2. Segregate Your Fruit
Some fruits give off a gas as they ripen, called ethylene. Ethylene is what causes changes in firmness, color, and texture. Not all fruit give off ethylene. Storing ethylene-producing fruit next to ethylene-sensitive fruit will speed up the ripening (and rotting!) of the latter group. Fruits that do produce ethylene include; bananas, avocados, kiwis, nectarines, pears, and tomatoes. Keep these away from fruits like apples and vegetables such as carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli.
3. Keep Everything Away From Heat
Produce can be very fragile. Keep them away from heat sources such as stove tops, toasters, and microwaves.
4. Keep Produce Whole
Don’t cut your fruits and veggies up until you are ready to use them. Cutting them exposes the soft inner flesh to air, which speeds up the spoiling process. It also causes the loss of some nutrients, something you definitely don’t want.
5. Pack Greens into a Container
If you’ve ever bought a bag of salad only to find the greens at the bottom are soggy and wilted, this tip is for you. The Kitchn actually tested 3 popular storing methods to see which kept the greens fresher, longer. The methods: paper towels in a plastic zip top bag, paper towels and a container, and a plastic bag with a puff of air to inflate it. The results? Using a container with paper towel was the clear winner. Read more about their experiment here.
6. Don’t Get Mushrooms Wet
Mushrooms kept in their plastic wrapped container can quickly turn slimy. To extend the life of your mushrooms, store them in a paper bag instead. Like the salad greens and paper towel, a paper bag will help absorb some of the moisture and keep your mushrooms from getting brown and slimy. Do not store them in containers that won’t allow any moisture to escape; this will just help speed up the spoiling process.
7. Treat Your Herbs Like Flowers
Fresh stalks should not be left out of water. Think about it; you wouldn’t leave your flowers out to dry. Use a small glass jar, fill it with a little water and arrange your herbs in them so they stand upright. You may also choose to dry your fresh herbs to make them not even longer. Simply tie the stalks together and hang them upside down and let them dry out naturally. Bonus tip: extend the life of your asparagus by trimming the ends and then putting them upright in water as well.
8. Keep Berries Dry
Like mushrooms, moisture and wetness will speed up mold growth with fresh berries. If you are going to wash them before storing them, use a colander to rinse instead of fully submerging them in a bowl of water, and make sure they are dry before placing them back into your fridge.
9. Place Your Onions in Pantyhose
This might sound a little odd but the fabric will let just enough air through, preventing your onions from rotting. Place onions one at a time into the legs of a pair of pantyhose, tying a knot between each one. Store in your pantry for the longest results.
10. Use Plastic Wrap on Bananas
Pulling off a single banana from your bunch opens the crown up for air and bacteria, causing them to spoil faster. Once you rip off one banana, wrap the crown in plastic wrap or foil to prevent air from getting to it.
11. Put Everything in its Place
Not all produce should be kept in the fridge. Onions (in pantyhose!) and potatoes should be kept in a cool, dry area. Tomatoes should also be kept out of the refrigerator; the cold air will actually cause them to lose favor and become soft. Certain fruit such as peaches and plums can also be stored at room temperature.
12. Store Pineapple Upside Down
No, this is not a preparation for a delicious upside down cake. Cutting off the top of your pineapple and storing it upside down will help distribute the sugar throughout the fruit as it ripens.
13. Buy Less, Shop More Often
I know. You’d like to reduce the amount of time you spend shopping for produce. But sometimes buying only what you need and making frequent trips is the best option to reduce waste. Also planning your meals for the week will give you an idea of what you want to cook, allowing you to only buy produce you will actually use.
We all love fresh produce. And when you’re primal or Paleo, you buy a lot of it. Extending the life of your fruits and veggies will allow you to enjoy them longer and reduce the amount you end up throwing away.
Do you have a favorite produce hack? Leave a comment and share it with us.