How to make your fruit and vegetables last longer
We've all opened the fridge to discover the shelf life of fresh produce isn't what we expected. We’ve also mixed and matched fruits in the fruit bowl on the counter just to experience some spoiling faster than others. Believe it or not, storing and preserving the freshness of fruits and vegetables is a science. Over 40% of all purchased food is thrown out or wasted.
Just because you carry all your fresh produce home from the market in the same bag doesn’t mean they can all be stored together. Let's take a look at a couple of the most popular vegetables and fruits and how they should be uniquely stored.
Whether you’re growing your tomatoes in your backyard or buying them from the farmers market, storing them at room temperature results in the most vibrant flavor and juicy texture. Once tomatoes hit peak ripeness, try to eat them as soon as possible—they spoil quickly thereafter.
Store your potatoes in a cool, humid place such as a basement or root cellar. Potatoes won’t last as long in the fridge. Either way, make sure not to rinse potatoes until you’re ready to prepare them: they last longer if they’re unwashed.
If you’re lucky enough to have a root cellar, it’s easy to store carrots: They’ll remain fresh for as long as six months. Those of us with limited space can turn to the refrigerator for an assist. You can keep the carrot roots fresh for up to three weeks in the fridge by submerging them in cold water. Just remember to change the water every four days or so, once it becomes cloudy. Don’t want to fuss around with a pitcher full of water? You can also store carrots in an airtight, zip-top bag in the crisper drawer.
Store with a damp cloth in an airtight container in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator. Alternatively, place in a cup with water on the counter, as you would cut flowers.
Do not wash until ready to use. Store in a breathable bag in the low-humidity drawer of the refrigerator. Handle carefully to prevent bruising, and separate any with bruises from other apples. Apples ripen 6 to 10 times faster at room temperature. For large quantities, store in a cardboard box covered with a damp towel in a root cellar or other cool place.
Remove any plastic wrapping. Store on the counter at room temperature, away from other fruit (unless you’re trying to ripen those fruit). Once ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days.
Do not wash until ready to use. Blueberries—Store either in their original container or in a covered bowl or container. Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries— Store on a shelf in the refrigerator in a single layer in an aerated container on a tray lined with cloth, and then cover loosely with another cloth. For strawberries, leave the green caps on until ready to eat.
Store loose in the low-humidity crisper drawer. Do not put in a plastic bag or airtight container. Peeled or cut oranges should be refrigerated in an airtight container or bag. If you have a citrus tree, the best way to store it is to leave the fruit on the tree until you are ready to use it. Citrus can stay good for months on the tree.
Keep your apples, apricots, bananas, avocados, melons, mangoes, onions, pears, persimmons, tomatoes, and plantains away from each other for best results.