We all know that fruits and vegetables are part of a balanced diet. As the temperatures grow warmer, fresh fruits and vegetables are available in supermarkets, at roadside stands, and even at farmer’s markets. It’s tempting to pick up a handful of berries or vine ripe tomatoes, but something stops you. Last week, you had to throw out quite a bit of produce that had gone bad.
There’s nothing worse than having your good-intentioned broccoli florets, onions, leafy greens, and the like go bad in your crisper drawer. When you want to keep everything fresher for longer, here are a few tips you can follow.
- Know your fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and veggies produce ethylene, a type of gas, as they ripen. Other fruits and veggies are sensitive to this gas, causing them to ripen prematurely. It’s important to keep these two groups separate. Some ethylene-producing produce includes apricots, avocados, kiwi, peaches, and tomatoes. A few ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables include apples, broccoli, eggplant, potatoes, summer squash, and watermelon.
- Not everything should be refrigerated. Cold can actually dull or completely ruin the flavor of some fruits and vegetables altogether. Items like tomatoes, potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool, dry place but never the fridge.
- Don’t wash berries. At least, don’t wash your berries until just before you plan on eating them. Wetness will actually encourage the growth of mold, so if you tend to wash strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and others before storing them in your refrigerator, you’re just shortening their lifespan.
- If you’re in the habit of washing, drying, and cutting your fruits and vegetables all at once, there are still things you can do to increase their lifespan. Store them in covered containers that are lined with paper towels. This will not only help you keep moisture out following the wash process, but leaving fruits and vegetables on your refrigerator shelf instead of in a crisper may remind you to eat them.
- Some produce begins to spoil the moment it’s picked. Carrots, broccoli, and certainly lettuce are the best known culprits here. When you get these items home, store them in separate bags or containers inside your crisper. Make sure that these items are completely dry before you store them as, once again, moisture will encourage faster spoiling.
- Buy only what you need. This may be easier said than done. Those berries might not be on your grocery list for the week, but they sure look tasty! Instead of giving in to the urge to go astray, try visiting the market more often instead. If that isn’t possible, meal planning is one of the best ways to stay on task.
- Get rid of rotting produce. This one is pretty easy. If you notice fruits or vegetables that have begun to rot, be sure it is composted immediately. This may help to lengthen the lives of fruits and veggies the rotting produce may have been stored with.
There are a variety of other ways you can ensure that your fruits and vegetables remain fresh. For instance, specially designed storage containers or bags can be picked up at your local store. As long as you remain aware and plan ahead as much as possible with your meals, you shouldn’t find yourself needlessly tossing rotten food.