How to Store Produce So It Lasts—5 Test Kitchen Tips to Save Your Fruits and Vegetables
We do our best not to waste in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. (And we contract a local composting service to collect those inevitable food scraps that result from all our cooking.) But one of the best ways we've found we can prevent tossing good food is by storing our fruits and veggies properly. Making your fruits and vegetables last longer is even more important when you're limiting trips to the grocery store. Read on for some of our favorite tried-and-true tips to make your produce last longer.
1. Trim & Separate Tops
Before you refrigerate anything that grows underground like radishes, carrots, beets and turnips, cut off the green leafy tops (if attached)—they draw out moisture and will make vegetables go limp and lose flavor faster. Store those greens separately for salads, sauces or to cook later.
2. Treat Herbs Like Flowers
I love this tip. For delicate herbs like cilantro and parsley: trim an inch off the stems and arrange them in a jar of water in your fridge, covered loosely with a plastic bag. (Asparagus and scallions do well with this fresh-bouquet treatment too.) Basil is the one herb to keep in a glass of water on your counter—it hates cold!
3. Use Crisper Drawers Right
Store vegetables in one drawer and fruits in another. Why? Because many fruits give off high levels of ethylene. This natural gas helps them ripen, but can cause most veggies (which produce less ethylene) to spoil faster. Note: not all produce should get the cold treatment. See The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies for a handy chart that covers which fruits and veggies to keep in the crisper and which should stay on the counter.
4. Give Bananas Space
Speaking of ethylene, bananas in particular ripen very quickly and speed the spoilage of nearly any produce nearby. Keep them on the counter (they're one fruit you definitely don't want to refrigerate) but away from other produce, like peaches and ripe avocados.
5. Keep Onions Out of the Fridge
Onions should be stored in a cool dry and dark place, like a pantry, to keep them from sprouting. Put them on a separate shelf away from other produce like potatoes, which will grow eyes faster with onions around (that ethylene again). Find out about more types of fresh produce you shouldn't refrigerate.
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