Fresh vegetables are an essential part of any balanced diet but managing to cook them before they go bad can be a challenge. Throwing away food is a waste of both food and money, so we have a few tips and tricks for you to keep your veggies fresh and your waste as low as possible.
How To Store Fruit & Vegetables To Keep Them Fresh: Tips And Tricks
Now the three main things you need to consider when it comes to storage are airflow, temperature and ethylene gas. Some fruits and vegetables require good airflow and therefore should be kept out of the fridge; this also goes hand in hand with temperature as some vegetables like room temperature while others favour the cold of the refrigerator. When storing at room temperature ensure that they are out of direct sunlight and in a relatively cool environment. Some items also specifically need to be kept in a dark, cool environment like in a veggie drawer of your pantry like potatoes and garlic.
The element that is less easy to wrangle is ethylene gas. This gas is produced by a variety of fruit and vegetables, and it actually causes other items in its vicinity to ripen faster and shorten their lifespan. This means that it is essential to keep ethylene sensitive items away from ethylene producers, so they have a longer shelf life. Some ethylene producing foods include bananas, avocados, melons, tomatoes and apples; these foods should be kept away from particularly ethylene sensitive items including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and other leafy greens.
Generally, when it comes to veggies in your fridge the crisper drawer is your best friend! This drawer is specially designed to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh with a carefully controlled temperature zone that is perfect for these delicate items. It is also recommended for you to remove your produce from its original packaging to dispose of any trapped mould spores or ethylene build up that could be hiding inside or to increase airflow like in the case of root vegetables. Once out of their packaging they can either be stored in plastic containers lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture (sealed or unsealed depending on the item, see below) or in reusable ziploc bags to prevent ingredients from drying out.
OK, so that’s a good overview of the general basics but what about some specific recommendations? Here are some ingredient specific tips to keep a whole variety of veggies fresh.
Unripe avocados should be stored at room temperature and placed in the fridge once ripened in a sealed container to keep the ethylene gas away from other vegetables. Once cut, keep the avocado from oxidizing or going bad by rubbing the cut edge with lemon and storing with the pit inside.
Store bell peppers in an open plastic container lined with paper towel. Only wash the peppers just before use as the extra moisture could cause them to break down prematurely.
These delicious treats are very sensitive to mould which can get caught in the container they come in. To avoid this, wash your strawberries in 8 parts water and 1 part vinegar and rinse thoroughly to remove any residual vinegar. Wash the container and dry thoroughly before replacing the strawberries.
Potatoes And Root Vegetables
These do best at room temperature so simply remove the packaging and store in a dark environment with good airflow.
Garlic And Onions
Store the same way as potatoes but keep them separate from the root vegetables.
Mushrooms should be refrigerated in the original packaging until opened. One opened dust off any excess dirt on the surface and store in a paper bag in the fridge.
This includes spinach, kale and pak choi. These should all be stored in a sealed container with paper towel at the bottom. For extra freshness sort the leaves when you remove them from the packaging and discard any damaged or wilting leaves that could affect the rest of the bunch.
Cabbage And Lettuce
Before being cut these can be stored in the fridge as is with no packaging. Once cut they should be stored in a sealed container.
Asparagus And Leafy Herbs
This includes parsley and coriander. Remove from any packaging and cut the bottoms off the stems. Place upright in a glass of water in the fridge. For added freshness cover the tops loosely with a ziploc bag or plastic wrap.
Tomatoes And Cucumbers
Both of these veggies are sensitive to cold due to their soft seedy centres which makes them vulnerable to going soft and breaking down quickly so they could be stored outside the fridge on the countertop with good airflow. Tomatoes should also be kept separate from other items, so they don’t affect their ripening with their ethylene gas.
These should be kept out of the fridge and away from other fruits and vegetables because they are a strong producer of ethylene gas. If your bananas do go past their best never fear; you can pop them, as is, in the freezer and used for banana bread or other baking to prolong their useful life. The banana skins can also be saved to make ‘banana tea’ which is not for humans but instead used on your plants as fertilizer. The skins can be kept in a jar, topped up with water and left for two weeks. Then this liquid must be diluted in a 5:1 ratio with water before being used on your plants.
How To Store Fruit & Vegetables: Summing Up
And there you have it; some sneaky little tips and tricks to keep your vegetables as fresh as possible for as long as possible so your pantry is always stocked with healthy goodness! These tips are very easy to execute and only takes a little extra time in order to organise your fridge and pantry for the ultimate fresh food storage.