Fresh Ideas to Keep Fruits & Veggies Fresher
by Tracey Pollack
It’s easy to eat smarter when you keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand. But what happens when good intentions are ruined by bad produce? The real secret to keeping fruits and vegetables fresh is knowing the best ways to store each variety. You may be surprised to learn that the fridge isn’t always their friend. Some need to be kept on the counter, a few should be wrapped or bagged, and others are best stored inside the freezer. To save you the time and money of too many trips to the grocery store, pick up these useful tips on storing some everyday fruits and veggies.
Potatoes and Tomatoes
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s best to store these staples in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation, such as the pantry or on the counter. If you’ve always just tossed them into the fridge, you’ve probably found them mushy, mealy and flavorless far too often. Solve this dinner dilemma by keeping them out of the refrigerator, far away from sunlight and heat. You can tell when it’s time to toss your potatoes and tomatoes when they get wrinkly, shriveled or moldy.
Whether you crave them in guacamole, in a salad or sliced on toast, avocados won’t stay fresh if they aren’t kept correctly. The way you store this superfood depends on its ripeness and use. To make unripe avocados ripen quickly, store them at room temperature until they’re ripe and soft. Then put them into a plastic bag and keep in the fridge for up to five days. Store sliced avocados by wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap to prevent them from turning brown, then put it into the fridge. Want to save that guacamole? Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface before keeping it cool in the fridge. It’s best to enjoy your avocados within a few days of ripeness. When they become soft, stringy or smelly, it’s time to toss them out.
Lettuce and Leafy Greens
Simply tossing a bag of lettuce into the fridge may not be the best idea when you’re trying to make your greens last longer. So how can you keep lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and collards from turning brown? First of all, wash the fresh heads or leaves very well with water and dry them off completely. Then, line a large plastic bag or storage container with plenty of paper towels. Place your greens inside the bag or container, then top with another paper towel before sealing up very well. Then, place into the crisper drawer of the fridge and enjoy garden-fresh salads for up to 10 days! Just toss at the first signs of odor, discoloration or a very moist texture.
Whether you’ve picked blueberries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries, these jewel-toned fruits will stay freshest in the refrigerator or freezer. If you plan to eat them soon, then keep them in the fridge—just remember not to wash them! Simply store the whole basket of berries in the refrigerator or transfer the berries into breathable containers and place those in the fridge. When the berries get shriveled, wrinkled or moldy, it’s time to toss them out. If you bought a bushel of berries and won’t eat them right away, they’ll stay freshest in the freezer. Before storing, gently wash and dry the berries completely. Then lay them in a single layer on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until they’re solid. Once frozen, transfer the berries into an airtight plastic bag and store them in the freezer for cold snacks and smoothies for up to 12 months!
With these handy storage tips, you’ll keep fruits and veggies fresher—and cut down on trips to the grocery store!