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The Good Food Box’s Guide to Storing Produce

How? The way you store fruit and vegetables will have a major impact on their shelf life and could reduce food waste. So here are some tips to keep your produce fresher longer and to ensure that your time and money were well spent!

First of all, fruits and vegetables don’t store well together.  Some fruits produce ethylene gas after harvest, which acts like a ripening hormone and can speed spoilage. Ethylene is only secreted by certain fruits called climacteric fruits. These fruits, like bananas, are the ones that can ripen on your kitchen counter. Other fruits, such as oranges, are non-climacteric; they mature only on the plant just like vegetables. However, a very slight ripening can take place after harvesting, as is the case for the strawberry which can mildly redden and soften. Vegetables don’t produce ethylene and don’t actually ripen, they just deteriorate with time. But some of them are ethylene sensitive. So, separate fruits that emit ethylene (AKA climacteric fruits) from all other produce that’s sensitive to it.

Secondly, produce needs to breathe! Don’t store them in airtight plastic bags or tightly together. Produce needs space for air circulation or it will spoil faster. Poke holes in the plastic bags you store them in or keep them in reusable mesh bags.

Follow the handy guidelines below to find detailed storage tips!

Fruits

Climacteric fruits

Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Cucumber Guava, Kiwi, Mango, Melons, Nectarine, Papaya, Apple, Peach, Perry, Plum, Tomato

As  mentioned above, these fruits continue to ripen after harvest. They can be stored in the fridge after the ripening process. Climatic fruits must ripen at an ambient temperature because they lose their flavors when stored in fridge right away.

Avoid placing these fruits among other fruits or vegetables. Their natural secretion of ethylene can contaminate and speed spoilage if placed near.

Non Climacteric Fruits

Citruses, Pineapples, berries, grapes, strawberries, litchi, cherries, tamarillo

Once these fruits are cut from the plant, they will not ripen any further. Therefore these fruits are ripe at purchase and best kept in the refrigerator. They spoil ten times faster at room temperature. Citruses such as lemons, oranges and limes are the only exceptions and should be stored at room temperature.

Vegetables

Asparagus: Best way to store them is to trim ½ inch off the end of the stems and then stand them up in a glass of water in the refrigerator, like a bouquet!

Garlic and onions: Should be kept at room temperature (or cooler) in a well-ventilated area. Storing them away from light also helps keep them from becoming bitter. Don’t take off their protective papery husk until you’re ready to cook them.

Leafy vegetables: Rinse & dry your greens very well with paper, kitchen towels or a salad spinner and store them in a plastic bag with a couple of paper towels.

Potatoes and winter squashes: Keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place such as a pantry but don’t refrigerate; the starch turns to sugar at cold temperatures, so you’ll end up with “sweet” potatoes if they’re refrigerated. But too much light and warmth will definitely cause them to sprout!

Other root vegetables: Carrots, turnips and other root vegetables should be peeled only right before use and can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Some suggest that cutting their leaves prior to storing could increase shelf life.

Mushrooms: Can be stored in paper bags in a cool, dry place and should only be washed directly before use.

All other vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator in perforated plastic or mesh bags.

Quick tip: Nearly all fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer as well, except for some herbs and lettuce. Freeze everything in small pieces on sheet trays and place the frozen pieces in airtight containers or plastic freezer bags for easy use later.

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