You just got back from the grocery store… or the farmers market. Time to put away all of your fresh produce! You throw half of it in your fridge in the plastic bags you put it in at the store and the other half on the counter in one big bowl. A few days later you find your asparagus and zucchini soggy in the fridge, your lemons getting moldy next to your apples. Now you have to throw out half of your purchase.
Well not anymore. We have all of the best keep secrets to keep your produce fresh longer!
FRIDGE OR COUNTER?
- Cucumbers – Surprisingly, cucumbers are sensitive to temperatures below 50°F according to a study by the University of California, Davis. When stored at room temperature, cucumbers thrive and last longer.
- Onions – Onions are best kept on the counter, however, once you peel and cut them they should be placed in the fridge as they will dry out if left out.
- Asparagus – Treat asparagus like flowers (cut the stem ends and keep in ½ inch of water).
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes like breathing room.
Fruits and veggies that should be kept in the refrigerator
- Bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will deteriorate and should be refrigerated.
- Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop so place those in your fridge as well.
- Avocados – Refrigeration halts ripening, putting avocados in a paper bag will speed up the ripening process.
NATURAL BORN ENEMIES
Store your fruits and veggies separately
Fruits and veggies need different climates for optimal freshness. In addition, some fruits and veggies produce a gas called ethylene as they ripen. Others are particularly sensitive to ethylene.
General rule of thumb: Fruits are more ethylene producing and vegetables are more ethylene-sensitive.
TIP: if you want to ripen something faster mix it in with an apple or other ethylene releasing fruit.
|Foods that ripen after picking:||Foods that begin to rot after being picked:|
|- Apples |
- Avocados (ONLY ripen after picking!)
- Bananas (will ripen a great deal and can be picked green)
- Citrus (such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
- Summer Squash
Onions make potatoes sprout
Onions and potatoes can release moisture and gases that will cause the other to spoil faster. So to prevent your spuds and onions from rotting too quickly, keep them separate and store each in a cool, dry, well-ventilated, dark place.
Light vs. Dark
Garlic and potatoes last longer in dark places – store in a brown paper bag or in containers with non-screw lids. It is ideal to have SOME ventilation wherever you store them.
- Vegetables like it humid: Most refrigerators have “crisper drawers” to store fruits and vegetables. These drawers typically have a slide setting from “open” to “close”. A closed setting keeps moist air in which is good for vegetables that like high humidity: leafy greens, cucumbers, root vegetables, celery, collard greens, kohlrabi, leeks, summer squash, and peppers, to name a few.
- Fruits like it dry: Fruits typically contain a higher amount of water than vegetables so they prefer drier climates. Set your “crisper drawer” to “open” to help keep your fruits fresh longer.
- Room temperature herbs: Basil is very fickle and one of the hardest herbs to keep fresh. It is best to keep basil on your counter with stems submerged in water and a ziplock over the leaves – puncture holes in bag for optimal air flow.
- Refrigerated herbs: Parsley and cilantro will keep for 5 days – cut ends, place in jar with water at the bottom and cover with plastic bag (ziplock or sandwich bag for example) and keep refrigerated.