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Fresh, leafy green vegetables and fruits are healthy and safe to eat. However, keeping those perishables fresh for days or even weeks can be challenging, especially if you shop for days’ worth of groceries at once. Knowing how to keep your produce fresh helps you enjoy your fresh vegetables and fruits longer and minimizes food wastage.
Moreover, since not all vegetables and fruits are alike, there is no single way to store and keep them all fresh for longer. For instance, veggies like lettuce can’t be stored the same way as root veggies like carrots or potatoes. In addition, specific practices, such as washing or peeling, can also shorten or lengthen their life. Furthermore, storing certain veggies and fruits together can also affect how long they last.
So, if you want to keep your produce fresh and eat it healthy before it goes bad, it is essential to know how and where to store it and how long it will last. In this post, we will discuss the do’s and don’ts of storing produce to keep it fresh so you can enjoy the most delicious and nutritious bang.
So, let’s get started!
How Long Does Produce Lasts?
In order to learn how to store produce to keep it fresh, you should know how long your produce lasts. That way, you will have a clear idea of whether to buy sweet potatoes or if they will lose their prime before you have the opportunity to eat them.
Moreover, since there are hundreds of different veggies and fruits, it is not possible to discuss each type in detail. Instead, we will share a few easy-to-remember categories, a produce storage cheat sheet, and a few examples so you can master the art of how to store produce to keep it fresh.
· Produce with Short Kitchen Life (ASAP 2-5 Days)
As mentioned earlier, not all produce is alike, so there is no single way to store all your produce and keep it fresh for longer. Some produce should be eaten immediately, or it will start losing its prime while still stored in your kitchen. So, it is wise not to run red lights to get them home. Instead, create a plan for when and how you will serve them in the next few days.
That said, fruits with short kitchen life (ASAP produce) include berries, mangoes, apricots, peaches, plums, and bananas. Similarly, veggies include spinach, kale, chard, and bok choy, as well as salad ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers.
· Produce with a Slightly Longer Kitchen Life (5-7 Days)
Lots of fruits and veggies will buy you a longer consumption window. For instance, fruits in this category include pears, oranges, cherries, and apples. Similarly, a lot of different veggies also fall into this category. Some of these include cabbage, sprout, broccoli, beans, lettuce, sweet corn, and mushrooms.
· Produce with Excellent Kitchen Life
Unlike the categories mentioned above, some fruits and vegetables stay fresh for weeks or months without losing their prime. In this regard, the most significant nominees are lemons, apples, and limes. At the same time, root veggies, such as ginger, beets, large potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips, have an excellent consumption window.
These three categories should help you know how to store produce to keep it fresh. However, sometimes the bananas resemble giraffes, or the broccoli you buy is yellowish. Similarly, you may notice avocados in your kitchen are rock-hard and can stay in their prime for weeks. Whatever the case is, you can use your judgment by analyzing the condition of the products you buy.
Produce Storage Cheat Sheet
|Apples||1 Week||3-4 Weeks|
|Bananas||2-5 Days||1 Week|
|Avocados||2-3 Days||3-5 Days|
|Beets||4-7 Days||2 Weeks|
|Basil||Up to 10 Days|
|Blueberries||1 Day||1-2 Weeks|
|Blackberries, Strawberries||1-2 Days||2-3 Days|
|Bell Peppers||1 Day||1-2 Weeks|
|Broccoli||2 Days||3-6 Days|
|Cantaloupe||2-3 Days (Uncut)||7-10 Days|
|Brussels Sprout||1-2 Days||3-6 Days|
|Cauliflower||2-3 Days||1 Week|
|Carrots||3-5 Days||3-4 Weeks|
|Celery||2-3 Days||1-2 Weeks|
|Citrus Fruits||1 Week||2-3 Weeks|
|Cherries||1 Day||2 Days|
|Collard Greens||2-3 Weeks|
|Eggplant||2 Days||5-7 Days|
|Cucumber||5-7 Days||2-4 Days|
Buy the Freshest Veggies and Fruits
Before we discuss how to store produce to keep it fresh, you must choose the freshest veggies and fruits for storage. It is a great way to prolong the kitchen life of your produce. In this regard, ensure that the produce you choose should be richly colored and have no limps or yellow leaves.
In addition, when selecting cabbages, root veggies, onions, or squash, ensure that they are heavy for their size and don’t have any soft spots or blemishes. However, if you prefer grocery delivery over shopping, you will have no control over the quality. So, buying a particular type of produce can give you more longevity.
How to Store Produce To Keep It Fresh?
· In the Pantry
Many vegetables and fruits like to sit in cool temperatures, away from heat, moisture, and light. In some instances, this might be your kitchen cupboard situated away from the oven or a dedicated pantry. The ideal temperature for the produce you store in the pantry is 50F to 70F.
In contrast, you should have a dark pantry because if your produce is exposed to light, it will start to sprout. A few common veggies that you should store in the pantry include:
Storing these items in your pantry will keep them fresh for weeks, or even longer if the temperature is ideal. Moreover, while it is perfect for storing your potatoes and onions in the pantry, avoid storing them next to each other. Keep in mind that potatoes will lose their prime if they are stored near onions.
· In Refrigerator
Most refrigerators have crisper drawers, and some models even allow you to control the humidity by opening and closing small air vents on these drawers. Despite the fact that a low humidity setting is suitable for certain produce, some veggies and fruits like to sit in high humidity. In addition, ensure to adjust the setting between 33F to 40F to keep your produce fresh for longer.
Moreover, fruits that shouldn’t be stored in the fridge include melons, citrus, bananas, and pineapples as long as they are uncut. Similarly, you should avoid storing veggies like onions, garlic, winter squash, and potatoes in the fridge.
· On the Countertop
In addition to lots of fruits like citrus, stone fruits, and bananas that you can store on the countertop, there is only one vegetable that you should store: tomatoes.
Now, you might be asking yourself if tomatoes are fruit. Indeed they are, and so are cucumbers, peppers, corn, zucchini, and eggplant. But we all prepare and serve tomatoes like other veggies rather than using them as a fruit, so they are a veggie. In any case, ensure to store tomatoes on the countertop and away from direct sunlight. Remember that storing tomatoes in the fridge will turn their texture grainy.
Furthermore, you should never store fruits like mangoes, kiwis, guava, papayas, pawpaw, passion fruit, pineapples, plums, and star fruit on the countertop.
· Store Veggies and Fruits Separately
Did you know that you can ripen an avocado by storing it with an apple? The reason is that pears and apples, as well as lots of other fruits, produce a gas (ethylene), which speeds up the ripening process of nearby fruits and veggies. Although you might sometimes want your produce to ripen faster, that is not the case for veggies. With vegetables, it simply means spotting, spoilage, yellowing, wilting, and breaking down.
That said, you should always store your fruits and veggies separately. If your fridge has two crisper drawers, use one for fruits and the other for veggies. In addition to pears and apples, fruits like apricots, kiwis, nectarines, plums, and peaches also produce a high amount of ethylene.
How to Store Cut Produce?
Due to the development of the food revolution, retailers are now offering more and more pre-cut produce as a nod to changing tastes. So now you can buy bags of pre-cut cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. However, sometimes we prefer to cut our produce. One tip here is to use a clean and sharp knife as cutting with dull knives can damage the produce and speed up the process of valuable minerals leakage.
Moreover, keep in mind that cutting your produce turbocharges their organic life. They lose nutrients from every surface and go bad sooner than uncut produce. So, if you cannot consume them right away, ensure to use airtight containers for storage in your refrigerator. However, we still recommend eating them right away.
How to Store Mushrooms?
Fresh mushrooms in your kitchen are healthy and delicious, and their umami taste lets you add richness to various dishes. But unfortunately, the biggest draw of fresh mushrooms is their shorter shelf life. Many of us store them in the fridge for a few days, and when we want to consume them, we find them slimy and spoiled.
However, a few strategies can help you store and keep your mushrooms fresh for weeks. Here is how to store and keep them fresh longer.
· Buy Fresh Mushrooms
When buying mushrooms, it is crucial to choose the freshest mushrooms. In this regard, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose firm, plump ones with dry surfaces.
- They should be smooth, evenly colored, and don’t have bruising or dark spots.
- Buy younger mushrooms with caps that are yet to fully open.
Moreover, while different varieties of mushrooms have different characteristics, certain telltale signs can help you avoid buying bad mushrooms. In this regard, the easiest way to scrutinize the quality of a mushroom is by feeling and smelling it.
If you notice slimy, discolored, or shriveled mushrooms with a strong odor, they will lose their prime quickly and will not last long.
Now, let’s learn how to keep mushrooms fresh for longer.
· Prevent them From Drying Out
The Freshest mushrooms contain a high amount of water content. However, once they are harvested, they lose moisture through evaporation. It means storing mushrooms uncovered will increase the airflow and make them dry out. So, ensure to store your mushrooms in breathable packaging that helps excessive moisture escape.
· Keep Your Mushrooms Away From Moisture
When you store your mushrooms in airtight containers, the moisture released from mushrooms gets absorbed inside the container. So, a lack of fresh air and excess moisture can turn your mushrooms slimy while also encouraging the growth of bad bacteria.
In addition, washing your mushrooms before you store them away can shorten their life due to extra moisture. That said, always ensure to store them unwashed and whole so you can enjoy freshness when it’s time to consume them.
How Long Do Mushrooms Last?
A variety of mushrooms can last up to three days when stored at room temperature. However, their shelf life can vary depending on the species and how they are handled during harvesting and packaging. That’s why buying the freshest mushrooms and storing them at a lower temperature is essential.
Moreover, it is best to store your mushrooms in the fridge as soon as possible after buying them. Adequately stored mushrooms can last up to a week, while some may last up to 10 days.
How to Store Fresh Herbs to Keep Fresh?
Fresh herbs are trickier since they are sold in a standard quantity, almost always far more than we need for any recipe. On top of that, they also have a shorter shelf life and go bad quickly. So, anytime you buy some herbs, there is a good chance that you will end up throwing some of them out. Additionally, keeping some herbs in the fridge even for a day can make them wilt, limp, and discolored.
Moreover, while the best way is to grow your herbs and slice off what you need, an effective way to avoid food waste is to store herbs properly to keep their freshness longer. In this regard, we have divided fresh herbs into two categories – soft herbs and hard herbs.
It is also possible to describe the two types as leafy versus woody but to make it simple; we will just say soft and hard. Rosemary, for instance, is an example of a hard, whereas parsley is a soft herb. Alternatively, you can also distinguish herbs by looking at their stems. For example, a green tender stem means soft, whereas a woody or thick stem means hard.
How to Wash Fresh Herbs?
It is recommended to wash your produce, including herbs. It is a good and essential practice for food safety, especially if you want to enjoy them as a salad, dressing, or garnishing. However, avoid holding your herbs under the tap, as they can damage leaves or break off their delicate stems. Instead, use a large bowl of water and dunk your herbs in it.
How to Dry Fresh Herbs?
Remember that drying your herbs is crucial because storing wet herbs in the fridge will not help keep them fresh. Like lettuce, you might find it tempting to dry your herbs in a salad spinner, but it can bruise and damage your herbs.
Instead, use a paper towel on the countertop and lay your herbs on it to let the water drip off. While you won’t get 100 percent dry herbs but that’s what you want. Storing slightly damp herbs will remain fresh for longer.
How to Store Fresh Herbs?
There are two different ways to store soft and hard herbs:
The best way to store soft herbs is in standing-up jars in the fridge. Fill your jar halfway with water, gather your herbs, and stand them in a stems-down position in the jar. Use plastic produce and cover the jar to keep your herbs completely enclosed. Finally, put the jar in your fridge, where your herbs will stay fresh for a few weeks.
Storing hard herbs to keep them fresh is even easier. That’s because you can store them by rolling hard herbs in a damp paper towel. Since you are already using a damp paper towel, all you have to do is to roll them up. Now place your rolled-up herbs in a bag without sealing it and put it in the fridge.
That’s all about how to store your produce to keep it fresh. Remember that much love, effort, and energy goes into the produce that finds its way to your home. So, the best way to appreciate all this goodness is to consume them without any texture, flavor, or nutrient loss.
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