How to Make Your Produce Last Longer

Article posted in: Lifestyle

There’s nothing more disappointing than planning on a salad with dinner, only to find your greens wilted and tomatoes ruined. What’s worse: you could swear you just bought them. But what you did with your produce when you got home can affect how long it lasts. Here are some tips to help keep your fruits and veggies in ready-to-eat shape:

Meal plan.
Leafy greens, eggplant, cucumbers, peas and mushrooms don’t last long after they ripen, neither do strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries–so those you should eat within a couple of days of purchasing. Other fresh fruits (like apples, blueberries, grapes and pears) and vegetables (including cabbage, celery, potatoes and carrots without the green tops) have a longer lifespan.

Know where to store ‘em.
If you find produce in a refrigerated case at the grocery store, it should be refrigerated at home to maintain the quality. Certain fruits—like avocadoes, kiwi, nectarines, peaches and plums—can ripen on the counter first (in a perforated or paper bag, or in a bowl away from sunlight), then stored in the fridge. And others should just stay at room temp: Refrigeration can cause cold damage to fruits like bananas, citrus fruits and melons, as well as cucumber, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes—so they won’t ripen to the flavor and texture you expect, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Apples, on the other hand, can stay at room temp for about a week; after that, stick them in the refrigerator.

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Separate apples from other veggies.
That’s because they give off ethylene gas during ripening, which can cause veggies stored nearby to ripen too fast. Other fruits that make this gas include: apricots, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, kiwis, honeydew melon and plums, as well as avocados mangos, peaches and tomatoes. Stick these in a crisper drawer on their own—and if you have humidity controls, set the fruit drawer to a lower humidity, the veggie drawer to a higher one.

Bag your produce.
They make special bags just for storing fresh produce (while absorbing ethylene gas), but you can also just keep your fruits and veggies in separate, perforated plastic bags. What you don’t want to do is air-tight storage bags with a zip seal—this starts the decaying process and promotes bacterial and mold growth, according to experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Freeze what you can’t use.
Brought home too many fresh green beans or peas? No worries, and no wasting: just blanch them (by dipping into boiling water for 10 seconds, then quickly into ice water), place in an airtight container and freeze for your own, homemade frozen veggies.

Rethink your recipes.
Fruits that are on the verge of over-ripening can be pureed into a smoothie, mashed to create a fresh topping for your pancakes, or diced into a salsa. Roast veggies that are near their end and stuff them into a sandwich wrap or blend into hummus.

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