We’ve all been there. The week starts with high hopes of cooking delicious homemade meals with fresh veggies. You dream that this is the week that your kids ask for a banana or fresh strawberries for a snack instead of their usual potato chips. So you fill your grocery cart with fresh produce and head home. Then life got in the way and your nights of homemade meals turn into drive-thru meals on the way to ball practice. If you love having fresh fruits and vegetables but hate losing money when they go bad, this post is for you. Keep reading to learn how to keep produce fresh.
Keep your herbs fresh
Herbs add amazing fresh flavor to dishes but they wilt and go bad so quickly. Here are some tips to make them last longer. When you get home from the store, cut off the ends of the stalk diagonally. Then put them in a tall glass with an inch of water in the bottom and a plastic bag with holes over the top. Changing the water daily will go a long way in keeping your herbs fresher longer and keep produce fresh.
Keeping fruit and vegetables fresh
It might cause more frequent grocery trips, but buying smaller quantities of fruit and vegetables at a time will keep produce fresh. Be careful not to rough up your fruits on the way home, this will only speed up the process. When you get home, do not separate your bananas. Instead, wrap plastic wrap around their stem.
Don’t wash your fruit before you are ready to eat it. When you are ready to devour those sweet strawberries (or other fruit), wash them in one part water and three parts vinegar. Vinegar will kill any bacteria on the surface of the fruit which will delay any mold from forming. After washing them with vinegar, let them dry completely before eating them or putting them away.
Let your avocados finish ripening on the counter, then you should store them in the refrigerator. If you want to speed up the ripening process for your avocados, putting them in a bad with your bananas will ripen them quicker. If you want your leafy greens to last longer, take them out of their container, wrap them loosely in a paper towel, and put them back in a plastic container. The paper towel absorbs any moisture that could make your lettuce wilt quicker.
Know how to use your refrigerator
Knowing how to use your refrigerator properly will go a long way to keep produce fresh longer. For example, do you know if your refrigerator is at the right temperature? The FDA suggests you keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for your food to stay freshest. If you have a side by side refrigerator, it is the coldest where it is closest to the freezer (usually the top left-hand corner of the refrigerator) and at the bottom where the cold air falls. Avoid putting fresh produce like strawberries and lettuce in the areas you know are coldest.
We all have a humidity drawer in our refrigerator, but does anyone actually know how to use it? Here’s a tip. When you’re in the produce aisle at the store, pay attention to what fruits and veggies are on the wall under the misters. These are the only foods that should be in your humidity drawer.
An expert tip for extending the life of your fruit and vegetables in your refrigerator is to line your drawers with lightweight foam liners. These will absorb any moisture and odor and help with air circulation.
What foods to keep in your refrigerator
Knowing what fruits and veggies to keep in your refrigerator and which ones do better on the counter can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Vegetables that stay fresher longer in the refrigerator include bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and zucchini. Mushrooms also do well in the refrigerator if they are stored in their original container or a dry brown paper bag.
Lemons and limes should be placed in a container of water and placed in the refrigerator to help them last longer. Other fruits like blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, grapes, melon, raspberries, and strawberries should be refrigerated. Remember not to wash these fruits until you are ready to eat them because that will shorten their shelf life, even when stored in the refrigerator. Fruits like peaches, nectarines, and other stone fruit need to be ripened on the counter before they are stored in the refrigerator.