If you’re trying to limit your trips to the grocery store during social distancing, buying enough food to last two weeks or more can be a good technique. However, when it comes to stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables, things can get a little complicated. You don’t want to waste food, but you also want to buy enough that will last until your next store trip.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to extend the freshness of your fruits and vegetables to avoid wasting money. Here are six tried and tested tips to get you started.
1. Shop Smart
When shopping for fresh produce, two key things to keep in mind are firmness and color. Pick vegetables that have a firm feel to them and are consistent in color, absent of a whitish sheen. Look for bright, inviting colors, and keep an eye out for bruises and blemishes. Fruits and vegetables should be firm and plump, but not hard. By shopping for produce that is a bit unripened, you’ll ensure freshness for a longer time.
2. Store Correctly
Storing your fruits and vegetables correctly is the golden rule of prolonging freshness. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that should be stored in the refrigerator, and others that will last longer if stored in a cool, dark place.
- Vegetables to store in the refrigerator: Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, and broccoli. Asparagus, carrots, beets, and brussel sprouts.
- Fruits to store in the refrigerator: Most fresh fruit including apples, oranges, berries, grapes, and tomatoes.
- Vegetables to store in the cupboard: Root vegetables like yams, potatoes, garlic, and onions. Squash and pumpkins.
- Fruits to store in the cupboard: Fruit that needs to ripen first, including avocados, kiwi, mangoes, bananas, melons, and peaches. After the fruit is ripe, it can be stored in the refrigerator.
3. Soak Excess Moisture With Paper Towels
This tip is an oldie but a goodie to help keep your salads fresh and crisp. Store your greens; romaine, arugula, or any other leafy vegetable in an airtight container accompanied with a layer of paper towel at the base of the container and above the greens. The container can often build up moisture, which will cause the greens to wilt — but by adding paper towels, the excess moisture will be soaked up, leaving you with fresh greens for the next 10 days.
4. Water Your Vegetables
This tip requires some heavy lifting, but it's worth it. Some vegetables such as carrots, celery, asparagus, radish, and green onion maintain their freshness even longer by being submerged in water. Take the time to cut up your vegetables, and then store them in a container full of fresh water in the refrigerator. Ideally you should be changing the water every few days to prolong the freshness.
5. Store Fruits and Vegetables Separately
A lot of produce releases ethylene gas, which essentially tells the vegetable to begin ripening. By not monitoring the ripening, your produce will rot more quickly than expected. This is because ripening is a type of accelerated aging that decreases the amount of time you have to consume the produce. A simple solution to this problem is to get more familiar with the types of produce that are more sensitive to ethylene gas. For example, fruits tend to produce more ethylene gas than vegetables, so ideally you should store them separately.
6. Freeze Your Vegetables
Another way to store your vegetables for an extended period of time is to freeze them. Even though most vegetables are suitable for freezing, blanching them beforehand will ensure that they are being frozen in their most prime state. Blanching is the process of putting the vegetables in boiling water, immediately transferring them to ice cold water, drying them, and then putting them in the freezer. Organize your vegetables by putting exact portions in a container or a zip lock bag, so that you can take out only what you need later on.
Extending the freshness of your produce is one important way to reduce food waste and save money. What other ways of preserving produce have you tried? We’d love to know. Leave a comment on Facebook and tag us @getflipp.