Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

You've just returned from the farmer's market with two canvas bags full of gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies. You sit down at the kitchen table to plan out the delicious dishes you'll cook up for the week. But after one look at your calendar, you know deep in your heart you can't possibly eat and cook all of this produce in one week. And sadly there's a high probability that some of it will go to waste. 

You are not alone. The typical American family throws out almost 500 pounds of food a year. That is a lot wasted of money! Here are some tips on how to store fresh fruits and veggies so you don't become a statistic.
Know Which Fruits and Veggies Produce Gas
Fruits and veggies naturally emit an odorless, harmless, and tasteless gas called ethylene, and some produce it in greater quantities than others. When ethylene-producing foods are stored next to ethylene-sensitive foods, the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. This is great if you need to ripen a piece of produce, for example, pair an apple with an unripe avocado. However, if you don't want to speed up the ripening (or decay) process, store or keep the following fruits and veggies separate.
Produce That Creates Ethylene Gas: Apples, apricots, avocados, ripening bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), figs, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, pineapple, plums, prunes, tomatoes and watermelon.
Produce That Is Damaged by Ethylene Gas: Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrotscauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash,sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.
Take the Time to Plan Your Meals
  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and create a shopping list
  • Only buy what's on your shopping list
  • Eat and or cook the produce with the shortest shelf life first
  • If you still can't manage to eat all of your fruits and veggies, throw them in yourcompost pile (along with your food prep scraps)
Follow These Food Storage Guidelines
ProduceStorageLife Expectancy
refrigerator (loose, not in bag)
up to 1 month
Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums
counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag
2-4 days
Artichokesrefrigerator, in a bag1-2 weeks
Asparagusrefrigerator, trim stems, upright in a jar of water3-4 days
counter, store uneaten portion with the pit intact in a bag in the fridge
3-4 days
2 days
Berries & Cherries
covered in the fridge. Don’t wash until you use them (too much moisture in the package speeds spoilage).
1-2 days
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower
refrigerator, bag in the crisper
4-7 days
refrigerator, take tops off
2 weeks
refrigerator, wrapped in aluminum foil
1-2 weeks
room temperature of 60-70 degrees
1-2 weeks
refrigerator, bag in the crisper
4-5 days
cool, dry, dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)
3-4 days
unpeeled - cool, dry, dark place;
peeled - sealed container in refrigerator or freezer
unpeeled - several months;
peeled - several weeks in refrigerator, months in freezer
Gingerstore in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then freeze remainder
if refrigerated - 2-3 weeks; if frozen - 2 months
Grapesrefrigerator, in a bag1 week
Green Beans & Peas
refrigerator, in bag or container
3-5 days
Greens (lettuce,kalespinach, cabbage)
refrigerator, bag in the crisper
1-2 weeks
Herbs (fresh)
refrigerator, trim stems, upright in a jar of water
1 week
counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag
3-4 days
Mangoes, Melons
counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag
4 - 7 days
cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket) in a bag
2-3 days
cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)
2 months
counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag
3-4 days
refrigerator, bag in the crisper
4-5 days
cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)
1-2 weeks
Root vegetables (radishesbeets,turnips)
refrigerator, leave greens on
1-2 weeks
cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)
4-5 days
counter, uncovered; refrigerate if very ripe
2-3 days
Written by Whitney Lauritsen  

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