How I Keep My Produce Fresh Longer: Top 10 Food Storage Tips
April 21, 2021
by robyn fogle
If you’ve seen the Fun Finds section of our April issue you know it features creative, sustainable products to help you be “Green on the Go.” I love these types of green swaps and reusable products. They make eliminating things like plastic bags, bottles and wraps easy. If you’re looking for more ways to live sustainably, avoiding food waste is another simple way to do it.
There’s nothing worse than having produce wilt, mold, or spoil before you can use it. Luckily, there are lots of tips and tricks out there on simple ways to keep your produce fresh longer. Here are 10 that I have found most useful.
#1 Fresh Herbs
A dip in the water helps keep those herbs fresher longer! | photo by Robyn Fogle
Remove any packaging and place herbs in a tall glass or jar with about an inch of fresh water in the bottom. Then place in the refrigerator. Change or add water as needed. (Basil is the exception and is best stored at room temperature.)
Store these on the counter till ripe (you’ll know they are ripe if the stem breaks off easily). Then transfer to the refrigerator where they will last a few additional days if needed. If you need to store half of an avocado, use half of a lemon to coat the inner flesh, leave the pit in, and cover with plastic or bees wrap.
#3 Leafy Greens
Prepping takes a bit more time on the front end, but if you won’t be using your fresh greens for several days it’s worth it. Rinse leaves separately and dry them on a paper or kitchen towel. Then roll them up in a dry towel to absorb any moisture and store in your crisper drawer. Alternatively place them in a plastic zip-top or Stasher bag with a dry paper towel inserted to absorb any excess moisture.
Because onions emit ethylene gas it’s important to store them away from other fruits and vegetables. Ideally store them in a cool, dark place, but a back corner of your kitchen counter or the top of the refrigerator works well too if you want to keep them in sight so you don’t forget about them.
Store the same way as herbs. It’s best to cut or snap off the woody ends first, then place in a glass filled with an inch or so of water and keep in the fridge. Storing the glass in the door of the fridge works well if your shelves aren’t tall enough.
If you don’t mind the prep work, you can chop up celery and store it in a jar or container submerged in water. But if you don’t have time for that, then simply remove any plastic packaging and wrap the whole head of celery in foil before placing it in the fridge.
#7 Green Onions (or scallions)
Wrap them in a slightly damp paper towel and place in an unsealed plastic bag or storage container in the fridge. Or if your crisper drawer gets too full, then you can also store them on a windowsill instead. Place in a jar or glass tall enough to keep them from flopping over and fill with enough water to cover the roots. Change or refill the water as needed.
A fruit bowl on the counter, if it’s not in direct sunlight, works well for a few days, but apples store best in the refrigerator. They need humidity to prevent them from turning soft and mealy so to prolong their crispness mist them with water every day or two to add humidity and prevent withering. This is especially important if stored in the fridge which is very dry. Apples are also best stored away from other fruits as they also emit ethylene gas which can ripen some types of produce.
Slow the speedy banana ripening process with a tin foil wrap | photo by Robyn Fogle
To slow down the ripening process, wrap foil around the stems. This will buy you several more days before those dreaded brown spots start appearing. Once brown spots occur, if you’re not quite ready to use them, you can store in the fridge for a few more days.
Again, a little more prep work on the front end, but washing them in a vinegar bath is worth it to avoid mold setting in before you can eat them all. Mix 3 cups cold water and 1 cup white vinegar in a large bowl, immerse the berries in it and swish around for a minute or two. Then drain, rinse well and dry on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Before placing berries back in the package they came in, re-line it with a dry paper towel to absorb any moisture and store in the fridge. (Raspberries are the exception since they are so fragile - store them in the fridge and simply rinse before eating.)
Use your refrigerator’s crisper drawers properly. Keep one drawer set to low humidity and store things that spoil in this drawer (i.e. fruits). The open vent will allow ethylene gas to escape and prevent rotting too quickly. Set the other drawer to high humidity and store things that wilt in this one (i.e. vegetables). It’s also important not to over-pack the drawers as you want to allow airflow.
Do you have any additional tips for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh?
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Though not native to Montana, Robyn Fogle is now proud to call the Treasure State home. She and her husband Rob are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy rock climbing, hiking and finding new ways to wear out their Aussie, Whipper. She balances outdoor adventures and road trips with quiet nights at home spent cooking and reading while enjoying a glass of wine or pint of craft beer.