There is nothing worse than your weekly visit to the local greengrocer, the supermarket or the farmer’s market just to find all the fruits and vegetables, you picked out so carefully, laying limp in the fridge drawer only a few days later. So how and where do you store them in order to keep them fresh and yummy for longer?
Cold season fruits and vegetables are sensitive to low temperatures, which among other things causes them to lose their unique taste. Therefore, they should be stored on the counter and not in the refrigerator. Once they begin to ripen, they can be placed in the refrigerator to maintain their lifespan. But they must be returned to room temperature before preparing them for dinner/lunch/snack time. To keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer than usual, I recommend using the following tips…
Some fruits and vegetables produce a gas called Ethylene when they only start to ripen – this gas may cause premature ripening on a fast track, so keep an extra eye on on your fruit and veggies. Avocados, bananas, melons, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, pears, plums, and tomatoes, for example, are fruits and vegetables that produce Ethylene and should be stored elsewhere than the ones who don’t (such as apples, broccoli, carrots, leafy vegetables and watermelon).
Potatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic and tomatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place, but not in the fridge – the cold ruins their taste. A dark and dry cupboard is a perfect place to store them, this way they can last up to two weeks. It is important though, to keep them separated as their odors and tastes tend to mingle.
Fruits such as pears, peaches, plums, kiwis, mangoes, apricots, avocados, melons and bananas can be kept on the counter. Then once they ripen, they should be moved to the fridge. Placing a banana in the fridge can cause the peel to become dark brown but it should not affect the fruit. Bananas ripen very quickly and even speed up the ripening process of all nearby fruits.
Packed vegetable bags and fresh herbs should be stored in the refrigerator in air-tight fruit and veggie containers. Before storage, it’s recommended to already remove the rubber bands that hold the herbs together, and chop the edges of the leaves. Green leafy vegetables can be rinsed before storage by immersing them in a sink full of water and possibly wrap them in two layers of kitchen paper. Do not rinse off soft herbs and mushrooms until just before using them.
Apples and mangoes – will last in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight, but their lifespan can be extended by storing them in a mesh container in the fridge. Organic fruits tend to ripen faster and therefore it is advisable to keep them in containers covered with kitchen paper inside the fridge.
If you want to wash and dry any fruits and vegetables before storage, then make sure you store them in covered glass containers lined with a layer or two of kitchen paper. This prevents moisture from spoiling them as the paper absorbs the water.
I recommend to wrap celery in foil and store it in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Vegetables such as peppers, grapes, figs and all citrus fruits should be refrigerated as well.
Other vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce and broccoli, begin to spoil as soon as they ripen, so they should be stored in separate bags in the refrigerator immediately after the purchase, make sure they remain dry, as the humidity accelerates the spoilage.
Cherries spoil super quickly but can be stored for a few extra days in the fridge. Make sure you put them in an air-tight container to prevent them from absorbing the odors of other foods.
Last but not least, my favorites, berries (blue, black, straw, boysen, and rasp) usually last for a day or two before they start to mold. I’d recommend to store them in the fridge unwashed inside a plastic box or plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any accesses moisture. Cranberries last up to two months when wrapped nicely and put in a plastic container. Of course – there is always the option to freeze berries, this way they can be stored up to 6 months!
I hope this article was of value to you and your fruits and veggies in the future, hopefully they’ll now stay as fresh and yummy as mine do for longer than before!