Keeping produce fresh longer is an excellent way to stretch your food budget and minimize the amount of food thrown away. By using a few proven tricks related to the way fruits and vegetables are purchased and stored, vegetables stay fresh for a much longer period of time. Learning and practicing a few of the tips below will not only save money, it will ensure that the produce consumed is healthier and more delicious.
Spoilage is the enemy. According to Kevin Keener, professor of food sciences at Purdue University, spoilage is caused by produce being contaminated by microbacterial processes that are fueled by high humidity levels. Even in cases where the fruit is still edible, if it is not fresh, important nutrients are lost as produce begins to spoil.
1. Buy from local farmers’ markets.
According to the article, “5 Tips on Keeping Produce Fresh”, which was published in the Medill Report, shopping smart is key for preserving the freshness of your fruits and vegetables for as long as possible. Local farmers’ markets offer produce that has usually been picked within the past 24 to 48 hours, which means that it starts off much fresher than anything purchased at the grocery store.
2. Check for bruising or yellow tints that indicate produce is damaged.
Also be sure to check for ripeness. Produce that is too soft will not have a long life in your home. It is also important to remember that any tear in the outer skin of fruits and vegetables allows bacteria to get inside, making them less safe.
3. Ask your produce provider how they handle and process their produce for marketing purposes.
It is important to trust your produce provider and to feel confident that they are aware of safety rules and have a plan in place to protect the food that you will be eating.
4. Be sure to store produce in the appropriate crisper.
One crisper is a high humidity storage bin that should be reserved for herbs and greens. The low humidity crisper should be where the harder vegetables are stored. Apples are an example of a lower water content fruit that should be stored in the lower humidity crisper.
5. Fruits and vegetables that have already been cut or sliced should be stored in airtight containers.
6. Wash greens in cold water adding a small amount of lemon or vinegar.
This makes the greens more crisp. Dry the leaves by spinning or on paper towels before placing them in the refrigerator.
7. Mushrooms should be removed from the package and cleaned one by one with a moist paper towel.
Dry them off and then store them in a paper bag. It is too cold in the crisper to store mushrooms, so it is recommended that they be placed on a shelf in the refrigerator.
8. Root veggies should be stored unwashed. Onions and potatoes should be kept in a cool and dark place.
9. Tomatoes are best left out on the counter.