How to Keep Your Fruits & Vegetables Fresh
You spend your money every week stocking up on Food Lion produce to whip up nutritious meals and snacks for your family. But, if you're like a lot of people, you might find yourself tossing a portion of that fresh food because it goes bad before you get to use it. That's like dropping money right in the garbage can — and it's time to start saving instead!
It's time to skip the frustration and savor the freshness of your produce longer. Next time you load up your cart, keep these tips in mind. They'll help you save more money and enjoy your favorite healthful ingredients longer.
To Fridge or Not to Fridge? That's the Question
Putting fresh produce in the refrigerator extends the life of those wonderful fruits and veggies, right? Well, not exactly.
While it's true that you can lengthen the life of certain types of produce by popping them in the crisper drawer or on a shelf in the refrigerator, some fruits and vegetables should stay on your counter or in a cool, dark spot for freshness and maximum flavor. To help you get the most out of your goods, check out this quick list of what you should and shouldn't refrigerate:
- Refrigerate: Leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach), berries, cherries, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green beans, soft squash (zucchini, summer squash), mushrooms, radishes, carrots, and beets
- Don't Refrigerate: Whole melons, tomatoes, apples, avocadoes, bananas, citrus fruits, hard squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti), garlic bulbs, potatoes, and fresh herbs
- Start on the Counter, Switch to the Fridge: Sliced tomatoes, sliced melon, avocadoes that ripened on the counter, ripened stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines), cut onions, and cut garlic
Keep These Fruits and Veggies Separate
As some types of produce ripen, they put out ethylene. This is a type of gas that can cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen prematurely. When that happens, the flavors change and ripening happens too fast, which usually leads to more waste. Storing the two in different crisper drawers can help ethylene-sensitive produce last longer.
Produce that gives off ethylene:
- Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots)
- Honeydew melon
Produce that spoils prematurely when stored with ethylene producers:
- Green beans
- Leafy greens
- Summer squash
Location, Location, Location
You know the saying that real estate is all about location, location, location? The same is true for storing fruits and vegetables. If you want to get the most life out of your produce, carefully consider where you're storing it.
If your kitchen is like most, you've probably noticed that you have two (or more!) crisper drawers in your fridge. And those high-humidity or low-humidity settings may seem mysterious. When you follow a simple rule of thumb, you'll know exactly what to do. Keep produce that rots and ethylene-emitting fruits and vegetables in the low humidity drawer, which lets the gas escape to prevent premature rotting. Anything that typically wilts — think spinach, arugula, lettuce, or strawberries, for example — should go in the high-humidity drawer. By keeping moisture inside the drawer, the produce stays crisp and fresh longer.
To Wash or Not to Wash?
Protecting yourself and your family from ick-inducing bacteria like Salmonella and other nasty bugs is essential. That's why it's a wise idea to wash all your fruits and veggies — yep, even the ones you're going to peel. However, it's important to remember there are some things that'll go bad faster if you wash them too early. Berries are the perfect example. Moisture left behind from washing them sparks mold sooner than you might think. Mushrooms also only need washing right before you're ready to use or eat them. Otherwise, you might end up with molding mush that won't go well with your beef stroganoff.
There's good news though, too. If you like washing your produce ASAP, most fruits and veggies can stand up to it. Just make sure everything is very dry before storing it.
Fruit and Vegetable Storage Tips
Knowing where to store them and when to wash them is one part of the equation. When you want your fruits and vegetables to last as long as possible, there are a few more steps you can take. Try the following tips:
- Some produce, including broccoli, lettuce, and carrots, starts spoiling right after it gets picked. Store these items in separate plastic storage bags in your crisper drawer to make sure they stay fresh longer.
- Store leafy greens in plastic storage bags with a little air left inside before sealing them tightly.
- If you prefer prepping your produce all at one, place washed, dried, and cut-up produce in containers lined with paper towels to keep moisture out.
- No room in the crisper? Try specialty produce bags and containers that prolong freshness. These help mimic the conditions inside the crisper drawer.
- Fresh herbs wilt faster in the refrigerator. Instead, pop them in a glass jar with a little water (like a bouquet) and place them on your kitchen counter.
Now that you've learned some tips and tricks for keeping your fruits and veggies fresh longer, head out to your local Food Lion to stock up on old favorites and new selections. If you're unsure how to prepare a fruit or veggie, check out our delicious recipes, which make it a breeze to jazz up meal time any night of the week.