Get the Most out of Your Produce (How to Store Fruits & Vegetables) + BIG NEWS!

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon Category: Advice

BIG NEWS first! 

Allow me to introduce you to my latest cookbook: Happy Herbivore Light & Fit.

I've been DYING to tell you about my new book and I'll give details (and recipe previews!) in the coming months — but for now, here's the cover!!!

Reserve your copy now (and read more about it on Amazon).

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: 

Spring is here and that means Farmers' Markets are back in full swing. I'm like a kid in a candy store at a Farmers' Market (or in the produce section of Whole Foods!) All that vibrant color is my candy! And like a kid, I want (and often buy) it all.

But then a sad thing always happens: by week's end, much of the remaining produce has lost its luster. It becomes limp, shriveled, or otherwise is not looking as alive as it did when I bought it earlier in the week. #sadface

Over time, I've found creative ways for "salvaging" my produce like making my Greens Quiche, which utilizes wilting greens or vegetable broth made from leftover veggies and scraps.

Still, I started to wonder if there was something more I could do. Were there "storage" techniques I didn't know about? Big fat YES.

Friends and Foes
Turns out that some fruits and vegetables don't play well with others — or each other. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas (a ripening agent) will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Now, if you buy something that's very under-ripe, this could be a good thing, but most of the time you don't want you're foods racing to the "finish line" — so you'll want to keep them separated. 

For example, if your peaches are really under-ripe, put them in a paper bag with a banana. On the other hand, if you store kale in your crisper with peaches or apples, your greens will be limp and yellow in a couple of days. It's all about separation!

Apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew are gassy. Store them in the fridge, but only with each other.

Avocados, bananas (unripe), nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes are also gassy, but they don't like the fridge. Bananas (ripe), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, leafy greens, herbs, peas, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, and watermelons are gas-sensitive, so keep them far away from the gassy fruits and vegetables!

You can also buy commercial products to help preserve freshness, such as the E.G.G. and produce bags.

Cold-sensitive fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, and winter squash lose flavor and moisture at cold temperatures. Therefore, keep these guys in your pantry, not your fridge. They like a cool, dry, dark place — just don't store onion and potatoes together or your potatoes will have eyeballs in no time.

Keep it Whole
Although I'm a fan of bulk prep, turns out once you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart — even something as "innocent" as removing the stem from an apple — you speed up the decay process. Bummer.

Let it Breathe
The worst thing you can do to produce is shove it into an air-tight bag. Don't suffocate your produce — it speeds up decay.

Even under optimal conditions, fragile raspberries will never last as long as thick-skinned oranges. Eat more perishable items first. 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.

Spoil Speeds
Some fruits and vegetables also spoil faster than others. The first to go (eat early in the week): artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cherries, corn, fresh herbs, green beans, mushrooms, leafy greens, and strawberries. Next are cucumber, eggplant, grapes, salad mixes, lime, pineapple and zucchini. Then bell peppers, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, grapefruit, leeks, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, and watermelons.

Finally, these guys will stick around for several weeks (upwards of a month) if stored properly: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, potatoes, and winter squash.

This website also has a great storage list in alphabetical order.

(Source: Vegetarian Times)

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