These tips won’t just keep your fruit & veg fresh – they’ll make you healthier!
Coat your cut apples in lemon or lime juice to prevent them from browning and spoiling quickly.
You open your refrigerator, fired up and ready to make a healthy change, and what do you find? That your spinach is slimy, your avocado is brown and your berries are covered in mold. We’ve all been there – and then usually ordered a pizza.
It’s annoying, but it’s important to remember that the reason produce spoils more quickly is the same reason it’s so delicious and so healthful – it’s alive. When produce starts to spoil, it’s actually undergoing the natural cycle of life, death and decay. And that eventual decay includes nutrient loss.
So, to keep your produce as tasty and nutritious as it can be and help you hit your five-a-day, here are eight savvy food-saving tips experts swear by:
- Arrange Asparagus Like Fresh-Cut Flowers
The easiest way to keep asparagus fresh: Keep it alive. Store your stalks like fresh-cut flowers by first making a diagonal cut across the ends and then put
them in a vase or glass (with about an inch of water) in the refrigerator. The refrigerator’s lower temps will prevent the veggies from wilting. Add water whenever you see that it’s getting low.
2. Store Your Lettuce With a Dry Paper Towel
Once harvested, leaves like spinach and arugula immediately start seeping water. Meanwhile, naturally occurring bacteria and molds on their surfaces invade the plants to make them slimy and altogether inedible. To avoid both issues, wash your lettuce as soon as you get home from the supermarket, and then dry it in a salad spinner, Store the dried leaves in a plastic bag or other air-tight container, along with a dry paper towel to wick away moisture. Whenever the towel becomes saturated, swap it out. Another trick is, if you’re buying a nice fresh head of lettuce, store it loosely in a plastic bag. Trim just the very bottom of the root stock to expose fresh flesh and keep a moist paper towel in contact with it. The moisture will extend its life & freshness.
3. Keep Basil Out of the Refrigerator
While most fresh herbs love to hang out in the refrigerator, basil turns black and wilts at low temperatures. Ideally keep basil on your countertop, with the stems in a cup of water (à la asparagus) or wrapped in a wet paper towel. Or if your local market always has fresh plants, keep a pot on the windowsill and replace it when it goes to flower.
Coat Cut Avocados in Lemon or Lime Juice or store in the same covered plastic container as cut tomatoes.
It only takes minutes for cut avocados and apples to start browning. That’s because, when you cut them, you not only expose the inside of the fruit to oxygen, you release enzymes that speed up the rate by which the fruit reacts, pretty negatively, to that oxygen. Citric acid, naturally found in lemons and limes, however, inactivates those enzymes to slow down any browning. Simply squirt or brush lemon or lime juice, whichever you prefer, on sliced avocados or apples before storing them in an airtight container or plastic wrap. The latter works especially well with a halved avocado. And strangely enough, if you’ve got a sliced tomato in your leftovers, store the sliced avocado in the same (closed) container as the tomato and it won’t go brown.
- Keep Bananas Bunched in the RefrigeratorOne day they’re green and hard. The next, they’re black and mushy. At a certain stage of development, bananas experience a surge in their production of ethylene, the natural ripening hormone. Once that happens, they move quickly from not-quite ripe to overripe. Leaving them alone – making sure not to separate a banana from the bunch until you’re ready to eat it – will help reduce any further spoilage. And be warned: While storing them in the refrigerator will keep the inside fruit better, longer, it will cause the skins to darken more quickly.
- Keep Tomatoes Out of the Refrigerator
Ruby reds have pretty finicky thermostats. They ripen when left at room temperature, but their high water content can start to crystallize in the refrigerator. If you absolutely must put your tomatoes in the fridge, then the top shelf of the refrigerator, closest to the door, is slightly warmer than most other areas, making it a pretty good spot for tomatoes. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a wine cellar, store tomatoes alongside your vino. Wine cellars are typically set to about 50 degrees, which is perfect for tomatoes. Best yet, don’t put tomatoes in the fridge at all until you’ve cut them.
- Keep Berries Out of the Crisper
Unlike other fruits and vegetables, avoiding the crisper is the proper strategy with berries. The crisper is more humid and has lower air circulation compared to the rest of the refrigerator. To keep moisture all the way to a minimum – to blame for any mold – don’t rinse blackberries and raspberries in water prior to storage. Once water gets into those little nooks and crannies, you will never get it completely out and the mold starts in pretty fast.
- Put Potatoes in a Brown Paper Bag
When potatoes are exposed to too much light, they start to get a greenish tinge to them. This correlates to the production of a compound known as solanine, which is a glycoalkaloid toxin. Not only does this adversely effect the taste, it can make you sick. To keep potatoes out of the light, and also reduce excess moisture,just keep them in a brown paper bag, ideally in a cool place, like the top step of a basement or in a bottom drawer or cupboard. Don’t put them under the sink (too many chemicals & too much moisture!) or in the refrigerator; it’s too cold in there and can turn the potatoes’ starch into sugar. Also never keep potatoes next to your onions!