Storing your fruits and vegetables in the right way is really important. If you’re the sort of person who just tosses everything into the crisper drawers of your refrigerator and hopes for the best, then chances are you’re not getting all the nutrients you could be and you’re wasting food (and money) as certain items go bad before their time.
Different foods thrive in different conditions, and if you get it right then you can extend the life of your fresh fruit and vegetables by a few days, which can save you some trips to the store and cut down on your impact on the planet too.
This is a great video on how to store your fruits and veggies, and in this article, we’ve got some of the best fruit and vegetable storage ideas to help keep your food at its best.
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Fruits and Vegetables Best Stored in an Airtight Container:
A lot of people assume that you should keep foods in an airtight container and that air causes food to deteriorate faster. That’s actually not the case with most foods. Fresh air, and giving the foods room to ‘breathe’, helps to cut down on mold growth. It also allows certain gasses to escape which can cause food to over-ripen.
There are a couple of exceptions, mainly in vegetables. Carrots and celery are best stored in water and then sealed in an airtight container like a jar. This is the best way to keep them crisp and fresh – make sure they are fully submerged, and then when you’re ready to use them just take them out and dry them with a paper towel. Cucumber too is best kept wrapped in a towel and then tucked into a plastic bag that’s airtight, but only when it’s whole.
You can also keep broccoli and cauliflower in an airtight bag. You should buy a reusable Ziplock bag to make sure that you’re not wasting plastics, which long-term will damage the environment. With broccoli and cauliflower, place a towel into the bag with them, but don’t wrap them up. The towel will just soak up excess moisture, keeping the vegetables fresh.
Purchase Jars on Amazon.
Purchase Reusable Bags on Amazon.
Fruits to Store in the Refrigerator:
Then you have the fruits that should not be kept in airtight spaces but should be placed in the refrigerator.
- Citrus fruits dry out at room temperature, so put them into the crisper drawer at the bottom of the refrigerator to keep them moist and delicious.
- Apples too should be added to the fridge, as this keeps them crisp. They soften if left on a countertop. Just take them out a few hours before you plan to eat them, particularly if you have sensitive teeth – cold apple is a very sharp sensation.
- When it comes to berries, there’s a really useful trick to keep them fresher for longer – a lifesaver, considering how expensive berries are. Wash them in a vinegar bath, ratio one part vinegar to five parts water. Any stronger than that may make the berries retain a vinegar taste.
The bath kills the bacteria on the surface of the berries that causes mold to grow. Once done, rinse them in water and dry with a towel. Place them on top of a towel in a container, and lay the lid on top but don’t seal it – airflow is important.
The only berry this shouldn’t apply to is raspberries – don’t wash those at all, or they will go bad sooner.
In the refrigerator, it’s important to keep fruits and vegetables separate if you can. That’s because fruits produce ethylene gas, a naturally occurring compound that causes fruits and vegetables to continue ripening and go bad faster.
If your refrigerator’s crisper drawers have humidity controls, keep fruits and anything that goes moldy in low humidity, and vegetables or anything that wilts in high humidity.
Final refrigerator tip – don’t overpack drawers. Having fruits and vegetables in too close contact will cut down on airflow and speed up the over-ripening process. Try not to stock up too much, as you’ll just cause everything to spoil faster.
Foods You Should Keep at Room Temperature:
Tomatoes are a fruit that a lot of people feel should be kept in the refrigerator, but actually, that causes them to soften and lose their firmness sooner. Put tomatoes in a bowl on your kitchen counter and they’ll stay fresh and juicy for a few days more.
Generally, any fruits that are kept on a countertop will continue to ripen, which makes it the best place to keep bananas and mangoes, fruits that are often bought when they aren’t quite ripe and need time to develop more.
Avocado is another fruit that ripens at room temperature, but when you place it in the refrigerator it slows that process down. If you buy a lot of avocados, it’s a good idea to refrigerate it until you need it, and then take it out for a few hours or a day to ripen. You can then place it back into the refrigerator for another day or two until you want to eat it.
Of course, as soon as you’ve cut the avocado it’s a race against time to eat it while still fresh. These tips on how to store avocado once cut will help.
More Produce Kitchen Storage Tips:
While both items should be kept in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or the countertop under kitchen units, it’s important you keep potatoes and onions separate from each other. That’s because onions produce the same ethylene gas as some fruits, which can cause potatoes and other root vegetable produce to deteriorate faster. Both create moisture too, so keeping them close together can encourage an atmosphere that’ll spoil the items faster.
If your store-bought produce comes in plastic bags, you should remove them and leave them in bowls or containers where more airflow is available. Plastic bags aren’t just bad for the environment but they can cause food to spoil quicker too. And, they’re not as attractive on your countertop too.
Finally, when it comes to fresh herbs, a good storage idea is to keep them as you would flowers – put them in a jar with some water. This encourages the herbs to stay fresh and stops them from wilting. The only herb this doesn’t tend to work with is basil, which you should keep dry instead.
Do you have any of your own fruit and veggie storage ideas to share? What tips do you have to keep foods fresher for longer? Leave a comment, and let us know which of these ideas is most helpful too.