Fresh fruits and veggies are the best, but how you store them can have a big impact on their shelf life. Follow these tips to learn which produce to refrigerate vs keep on the counter and even which foods you should and shouldn't store together.
1. It's An Ethylene Compatibility Issue
Not all fruits and veggies get along...just a sad reality. Some fruits emit ethylene gas, which is a natural hormone that's involved in the ripening process. But some fruits have an ethylene senstivity and this will cause them to turn bad too quickly.
Ethylene-Producing Produce These can be stored together.
- ripe bananas
- passion fruit
Ethylene-Sensitive Produce Keep these separate from the fruits above.
- unripe bananas
- green beans
- Belgian endive
- Brussels sprouts
- leafy greens
- sweet potatoes
H/T: Huffington Post AU
2. Rule of Thumb:
Notice the lists above...there's a trend. Keep fruits and veggies separate! For the same ethylene compatibility issue.
3. To Chill or Not to Chill
Peaches, plums, nectarines, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears improve from sitting out on the counter. Putting them in the fridge will stall the ripening process--let them hang out on your counter to reach the perfect level of ripe-ness. Once they hit this point, toss them in the fridge to keep them from getting too ripe and extending their shelf life a few more days.
Grapes, citrus fruits, and all berries should always be refrigerated.
Keep things cold...but not frozen.
4. Learn How To Use Your Crisper
The crisper drawer in your fridge can go a long way to keeping your produce "crisp" for longer. Some have levers or toggles to allow you to adjust from low to high humidity. If not, it's just equipped for high-humidity.
Crisper drawers are all about flow. Low humidity = high flow, high humidity = low to no flow. And of course, it's all because of ethylene. You want to use low humidity/high flow for veggies that produce ethylene (apples, avocados, melons, stone fruits, etc.). A high-humidity environment are for those fruits and veggies that are sensitive to ethylene (asparagus, cucumbers, lettuce/greens, berries, etc.).
You want to keep things low-humidity/high-flow to blow off the ethylene produced by these fruits and veggies to slow down the ripening process, thus slowing down a quick path to rot-town. For higher-humidity stuff, you want to keep moisture in to avoid wilt/drying out.
5. Let Your Veggies Breathe
Don't store your veggies in the same tight plastic containers/bags you brought them home in. Either poke holes or utilize reusable mesh bags, like these. This goes for storage space too--don't cram your crisper full to the brim of veggies...give 'em space to breathe to avoid a faster rot.
6. Keep Those Greens Crisp
The bottom line: wick moisture. Greens need some amount of moisture (hence the high-humidity setting on the crisper) but you don't want them pooling in water. Check out this article to get the most out of your lettuce!
7. Keep A Cheat Sheet
It's a lot to remember. Keep a handy cheat sheet, like this infographic, for a quick reference.
Thumbs up for fresh produce.
SHARE with your friends and family and save them from rotten squash!