How to Store Fruits & Vegetables
Food Preservation Basics
As food costs rise, you need to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables. When produce spoils before it can be eaten, it represents money literally being thrown away. By storing food properly, you extend its freshness. Proper food storage, preparation and preservation will extend your family’s fresh food options, letting you keep fruit and vegetables on hand when you need them. Proper storage also helps eliminate odours from your fridge that can potentially affect other foods.
As fruits and vegetables ripen they give off a harmless gas called ethylene. You can’t detect it, but some produce emit it in great quantities, such as bananas and avocados. Other fruits and vegetables are very ethylene-sensitive. When these foods are put near high ethylene producers, their ripening process is increased. This can be detrimental; causing fully ripened product to spoil. But you can also use it to your advantage by placing high-ethylene emitters next to unripe, ethylene-sensitive items. For example, putting a peach in a plastic bag with an unripe avocado will cause the avocado to ripen more quickly.
Fruits vary in how they should be ripened and stored in order to best extend their freshness. Some fruits, such as cantaloupes, kiwi fruit and pineapples continue to mature after they are picked and should be ripened at room temperature prior to refrigeration. Most berries, figs and grapes will not ripen any further after picking and should be refrigerated immediately. Citrus fruits and apples can be stored either at room temperature or can be refrigerated.
Many vegetables respond well to freezing, allowing you to eat them weeks after you have purchased them. Vegetables such as peppers, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, celery and mushrooms are freezable. Berries such as blueberries should be placed in the freezer in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and then stored in a freezer bag once frozen. In all cases, blanch your fruits and vegetables first to kill bacteria that can speed up spoilage.
Keeping Fruit Fresh
Fruit provides your family with great options for breakfasts, desserts and healthy snacks — but it has to be fresh. For berries of all kinds, rinse them in a light vinegar water to prevent spoilage, and wash them again before eating. Keep high-ethylene emitters like apples and bananas separate from other ripe fruit to prevent them from spoiling. You can also extend the freshness of bananas by wrapping the crowns.
Keeping Vegetables Fresh
Remove any ties or rubber bands from vegetables before storing. Trim any long leafy ends, leaving an inch or so to prevent them from drying out. Some vegetables are very fragile and require appropriate food preservation. Leafy greens like lettuce should be wrapped in damp paper towel and stored in the crisper. Store mushrooms and garlic in paper vs. plastic bags; the paper absorbs moisture and will inhibit mold from forming. Squash can be kept in dry storage for months by covering it in a thin layer of vegetable oil. If you want ready-to-eat veggies on hand, carrots and celery can be chopped up and stored in water in plastic containers.
One of your most important staples, tomatoes are used throughout the entire year. However, keeping tomatoes ripe can be tricky. One would think the refrigerator is the best option, but in fact the cold rids the tomato of its flavour and alters the texture. Instead, place them in a paper towel-lined bowl, stems up. This helps prevent bruising of the fruit. Also, keep tomatoes away from heat sources and direct light to avoid over-ripening.
Ideally, leafy greens should be eaten within one-to-two days of purchase. This ensures you’re getting the optimal freshness and nutrients. But proper storage can extend the life of these fragile leaves. Wrap the unwashed leaves in paper towel to absorb any excess moisture that can speed up the rotting process. Place the paper towel-wrapped leaves in a plastic bag in your fridge. Ensure you remove any rotten leaves prior to storing.
There is a misconception that refrigerating bananas will make them quickly go bad. Yes, the skin of the banana will brown or blacken if placed in a cooler temperature, but the fruit within the peel is still tasty. However, if you would rather not have a black banana, you can place ripe bananas in a sealed plastic bag and store them in your fridge’s crisper. This will help to retain their attractive yellow colour.
Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beets can be stored for extended periods of time without the need of a traditional root cellar. Storage in a cool, dark place in the basement is optimal for these vegetables. If you have no cellar, you can store root vegetables in a box with sawdust or peat moss to maintain moisture. Store the box in a cool place such as your garage, porch or unheated room. Storing root vegetables in your crisper is fine, but some types are quite big and use up a lot of space. Never wash root vegetables until you’re ready to use them.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.