Have you ever asked yourself, how do I make my produce last as long as possible? It seems to go bad in a few days if I don’t use it quickly enough.
Answer: Keeping produce fresh can be the cause of a lot of stress in the kitchen. The first step to cutting down on the amount of overripe fruit and mushy vegetables you toss in the trash is making sure you buy only what you know you can eat for a few days.
At home, proper storage is the key. Some foods should be kept apart from others because they release ethylene, a natural gas that can cause items near them to become spotted or soft. The following are some common ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables: apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes. Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to the effects of ethylene include: apples, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, lettuces and other greens, potatoes, summer squash, and watermelons.
Here’s how to keep everyday fruits and vegetables fresh. Note: Life span is measured from the day you bring the produce home.
Arugula To store: Put the leaves in a plastic bag (if they aren't already in one) and refrigerate. Life span: 2 days.
Avocados To store: To ripen avocados, place them on a countertop at room temperature. Extend the life of a ripe one by putting it in the refrigerator, unbagged. After a few days, it will shrivel, which means it's time to make guacamole. Life span: 5 to 7 days.
Bananas To store: Keep them on a countertop, unbagged, to ripen at room temperature. Don't refrigerate an unripe banana — the cold causes the skin to turn brown and prevents the fruit from ripening properly. Life span: 3 to 5 days.
Bell Peppers To store: Store, unwashed, in a resealable plastic bag in the crisper. Life span: Up to 1 week.
Blueberries To store: Dry, unwashed blueberries can be kept in their plastic container or a resealable plastic bag. Keep them in the back of the refrigerator. Life span: 10 days.
CabbageTo store: Wrap the entire head in plastic wrap and refrigerate.Life span: Up to 2 weeks.
Carrots To store: Remove any greens, then place the carrots in a resealable plastic bag in the crisper.Life span: 2 to 4 weeks.
Cauliflower To store: Cover the head with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Life span: 1 week.
Grapes To store: Keep in a resealable plastic bag in the back of the refrigerator. If you wash grapes before storing, they will spoil in about a week. Life span: 2 to 3 weeks.
Lemons and Limes To store: Keep them unbagged on the refrigerator door, but let them sit at room temperature for a few hours before using. If you use limes often, store them on a countertop. Life span: 10 days to 3 weeks refrigerated; up to 1 week at room temperature.
Lettuce To store: Wrap lettuce in damp paper towels and seal in a plastic bag. Put bagged lettuce in the crisper, which will keep it moist and cold. Life span: 7 to 10 days.
Pears To store: To ripen, store in a paper bag on a countertop at room temperature for 2 to 5 days. To preserve a ripe pear for 2 to 3 days, keep it in the refrigerator, unbagged. Life span: 2 to 5 days.
Raspberries To store: Keep raspberries, unwashed, in their plastic container. Or, if you have room in the refrigerator, spread them in a single layer in a covered shallow container. Life span: 2 days.
Scallions To store: Keep in the crisper, unwashed, in a plastic bag. Life span: 1 week.
Spinach To store: Place in a plastic bag (if it didn't come in one) and refrigerate. Life span: 3 days.
Strawberries To store: Store in the refrigerator, unwashed, in their plastic container. If the berries come in a cardboard carton, put them in a plastic bag before storing. Don't wash them or remove the hulls until you're ready to eat the berries. Life span: 3 to 4 days.
Sweet Potatoes To store: Keep in a cool, dark, dry place. Life span: 2 to 4 weeks.
Tomatoes To store: Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature on a countertop, stem-side up. Make sure they're out of direct sunlight, and never put them in the refrigerator, which will ruin the flavor and the texture. Life span: 2 to 5 day
When you cut up your fruit, and are waiting to add it to a salad, jello, pie, etc., soak it either in a little water with some lemon juice, or a couple of crushed Vitamin C tablets.
If you are serving your fruit fresh, toss it lightly in lemon juice. If you are serving it cut in half, brush the surface with a pastry brush dipped in lemon juice.