Wellnesdays: How To Store Fruits And Vegetables

How To Store Fruits And Vegetables

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The main way to lengthen shelf life is by using cold temperatures to slow food’s respiration, or ‘breathing’ process. In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don’t want to stop the breathing altogether. The worst thing to do is seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag. You’ll suffocate them and speed up decay.

Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. For example if you put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that’s sensitive to it.

DO NOT REFRIGERATE:

Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:

Apples
Apricots
Canteloupe
Figs
Honeydew

DON’T REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:

Avocados
Bananas, unripe
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Tomatoes

KEEP THESE AWAY FROM ALL GAS RELEASERS:
Bananas, ripe
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Lettuce and other leafy greens
Parsley
Peas
Peppers
Squash
Sweet potatoes
Watermelon

There are also some innovations to help extend the life of your fruits and veggies. Some products actually absorb ethylene and can be dropped into a crisper, such as the E.G.G. (for ethylene gas guardian), which is shaped like, you guessed it, an egg, and ExtraLife, a hockey puck-like disk. A variety of produce bags and containers are also on the market, such as those by FridgeSmart Tupperware and BioFresh, which both absorb ethylene and create an atmosphere that inhibits respiration.

At least as important as how you store produce is when you buy it. Do all your other shopping first so that your berries and broccoli don’t get warm—and respire rapidly—while you’re picking up nonperishable items. Get the produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible. If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, put a cooler in the car. Shop farmers’ markets soon after they open: Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they’ve been in the sun for a few hours.

Even under optimal conditions, fragile raspberries will never last as long as thick-skinned oranges. Eat more perishable items first. And if you still find yourself with a bushel of ripe produce—and a business trip around the bend—improvise. Make a fruit pie, a potful of soup or a great big vat of tomato sauce, and throw it in the freezer. You’ll relish your foresight when you get home.

Fastest to Slowest Spoilers: What to Eat First

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You can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables with just a single weekly trip to the supermarket, with proper storage and a little planning. The key is eating the more perishable produce early on. Appearance and smell is the best clues to whether fruits and veggies are fresh to begin with.

EAT FIRST: Sunday to Tuesday

Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados
Bananas
Basil
Broccoli
Cherries
Corn
Dill
Green beans
Mushrooms
Mustard greens
Strawberries
Watercress

EAT NEXT: Wednesday to Friday

Arugula
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Grapes
Lettuce
Lime
Mesclun
Pineapple
Zucchini

EAT LAST: Weekend

Apricots
Bell peppers
Blueberries
Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower
Grapefruit
Leeks
Lemons
Mint
Oranges
Oregano
Parsley
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Spinach
Tomatoes
Watermelon

AND BEYOND:

Apples
Beets
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Garlic
Onions
Potatoes
Winter squash

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One thought on “Wellnesdays: How To Store Fruits And Vegetables

  1. Pingback: Tips and Tricks Tuesdays: What’s in My Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry? | Twin Cities Supper Swappers

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