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Tips on how to store fruits and vegetables

Great article from Vegetarian Times.

 http://www.vegetariantimes.com/resources/produce_storage_guide/?section=&utm_source=MyVegetarianTimes&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=MyVegetarianTimes

 

Spoiled Rotten - How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

How to stop the waste?

 


keeping food fresh. fresh produce, farmers market, keep food fresh, refrigerator drawer, produce drawer

Lemon Perhaps you do it once a week. Perhaps only when you trace those sulfurous odors to your refrigerator's crisper drawers. But eventually, you toss out spoiled fruits and vegetables. Lots of them. Researchers at the University of Arizona recently spent a year tracking families' food-use habits. Working with the United States Department of Agriculture, they interviewed the families about their eating habits, collected their grocery receipts, watched them prepare meals, and then sifted through every last discarded lettuce leaf, slice of bread, burger and bean.

Extra Life The results, reported in 2002, were pretty shocking. The families tossed out an average of 470 pounds of food per year?about 14 percent of all food brought into the home?at an annual cost of $600. Every day, they discarded more than half a pound of fruits and veggies. In total, Americans chuck a fourth of all the produce they buy, mostly because it's gone bad, says Timothy Jones, PhD, contemporary archaeologist at the University of Arizona. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.

Wasting produce is, well, a waste?bad for our wallets and bad for the environment. Plus, who wants to make a salad when confronted with a bin of rotting sludge? All this led us to ask: How can we keep produce fresh longer?

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas?a ripening agent?will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate.

Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed-ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold proliferates rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately.

For longer life, keep your produce whole
?don't even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it. "As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart," says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University, "you've broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow."
Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Once they're fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best flavor, return them to room temp.

Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don't migrate.


The ABCs of Fresh
Tupperwrare "The main way to lengthen shelf life is by using cold temperatures to slow food's respiration, or 'breathing' process," explains Marita Cantwell, PhD, a postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis. In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don't want to stop the breathing altogether. "The worst thing to do is seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag," says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. "You'll suffocate them and speed up decay."

Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that's sensitive to it. (See "Gas Wars" sidebar.)

REFRIGERATE
THESE GAS RELEASERS

Apples
Apricots
Cantaloupe
Figs
Honeydew




DON'T REFRIGERATE
THESE GAS RELEASERS

Avocados
Bananas, unripe
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Tomatoes
KEEP THESE AWAY
FROM ALL GAS RELEASERS

Bananas, ripe
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Lettuce and other leafy greens
Parsley
Peas
Peppers
Squash
Sweet potatoes
Watermelon 

BioFresh There are also some innovations to help extend the life of your fruits and veggies. Some products actually absorb ethylene and can be dropped into a crisper, such as the E.G.G. (for ethylene gas guardian), which is shaped like, you guessed it, an egg (see photo), and ExtraLife, a hockey puck?like disk. A variety of produce bags are also on the market, such as those by Evert-Fresh and BioFresh, which both absorb ethylene and create an atmosphere that inhibits respiration.

At least as important as how you store produce is when you buy it. Do all your other shopping first so that your berries and broccoli don't get warm?and respire rapidly?while you're picking up nonperishable items. Get the produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible. If you'll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, put a cooler in the car. Shop farmers' markets soon after they open: Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they've been in the sun for a few hours.

Even under optimal conditions, fragile raspberries will never last as long as thick-skinned oranges. Eat more perishable items first (see "Fastest to Slowest Spoilers" sidebar). And if you still find yourself with a bushel of ripe produce?and a business trip around the bend?improvise. Make a fruit pie, a potful of soup or a great big vat of tomato sauce, and throw it in the freezer. You'll relish your foresight when you get home.



Fastest to Slowest Spoilers: What to Eat First

You can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables with just a single weekly trip to the supermarket, with proper storage and a little planning.

The key is eating the more perishable produce early on. Use this guide, right
?created with the help of Marita Cantwell, PhD, postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis?based on a Sunday shopping trip. The timing suggestions are for ready-to-eat produce, so allow extra days for ripening if you're buying, say, green bananas or not-quite-ripe pears.
   
And remember, looks count. Appearance
?vivid green spinach; smooth, unbruised peaches; plump oranges?is the best clue to whether fruits and veggies are fresh to begin with. 
Eat First:
Sunday to Tuesday


Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados
Bananas
Basil
Broccoli
Cherries
Corn
Dill
Green beans
Mushrooms
Mustard greens
Strawberries
Watercress



Eat Next:
Wednesday to Friday

 
Arugula
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Grapes
Lettuce
Lime
Mesclun
Pineapple
Zucchini
Eat Last:
Weekend

 
Apricots
Bell peppers
Blueberries
Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower
Grapefruit
Leeks
Lemons
Mint
Oranges
Oregano
Parsley
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Spinach
Tomatoes
Watermelon
And
Beyond


Apples
Beets
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Garlic
Onions
Potatoes
Winter squash
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Re: Tips on how to store fruits and vegetables

  • This is great - tanks for posting it!  There are some that I knew but most I didn't know.  I love the list of what to eat first. 
    image
    Tired after a long morning of hiking and swimming.
  • Good piece.  I didn't know that about the release of gas.  I need to print that part out and stick it on my fridge.

    Their eat first list seems to make sense, though I have found that grapefruits (any citrus fruits, really) will last weeks in the fridge.

    With lettuce and delicate greens, I have found they keep a while if store them in a a salad spinner in the fridge.  I dry them first, then store them in it.  It helps keep the moisture off.  Plus, they are clean and ready to go, making it easier to eat them during the week. 

    And in general, putting a paper towel in a plastic bag with the produce works wonders in getting them to last a couple more days.

    Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

  • Thanks for posting SG!
  • good info, thanks!
    imageimageimage
  • Awesome article, thanks for posting it SG!

    I especially appreciate the list of things to eat first.  It seems like most guidelines I've read say to eat almost everything in 2-3 days, and that isn't always practical.  Thank you for telling me my leaks will be fine for a few extra days, go ahead and eat the green beans first.

    My MIL got me a set of those ethylene absorbers (mine are ball-shaped).  I think they work.

    I used to store citrus in the refrigerator too, but have since read it's better to store it on the countertop.  It does seem to stay juicier on the counter and still lasts a long time.

    Oh and the part about storing potatoes, onions and garlic in separate cabinets: it's important.  Potatoes and onions release gases that fight with each other, causing potatoes to sprout faster and onions to rot.

  • image CutesBoots:

    I used to store citrus in the refrigerator too, but have since read it's better to store it on the countertop.  It does seem to stay juicier on the counter and still lasts a long time.

    I've read that citrus fruit releases more juice when it is at room temp, but I don't think storage actually changes the amount of juice in them. Something to do with the way the membranes holds on to the liquid when they are cold.  If you juice a lemon, then stick the remains in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, and then resqueeze, more juice will come out.

    So, if you wanted your orange to last long and be juicy, you could store it in the fridge, but take it out and let it come to room temp before eating.

    Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

  • image *ESF*:
    image CutesBoots:

    I used to store citrus in the refrigerator too, but have since read it's better to store it on the countertop.  It does seem to stay juicier on the counter and still lasts a long time.

    I've read that citrus fruit releases more juice when it is at room temp, but I don't think storage actually changes the amount of juice in them. Something to do with the way the membranes holds on to the liquid when they are cold.  If you juice a lemon, then stick the remains in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, and then resqueeze, more juice will come out.

    So, if you wanted your orange to last long and be juicy, you could store it in the fridge, but take it out and let it come to room temp before eating.

    Thanks!  That is helpful advice.

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