It has never been so important to learn the best ways to store fresh produce then now.
Like many of you, during the summer months, our kitchen is overflowing with vegetables from the garden. And sometimes it is a challenge to use or store everything before it begins to go bad.
And now that many of us have stocked up with groceries from the store, we thought it would be a good time to share how to maximize the life of your fruits and vegetables.
The Best Ways To Store Fresh Produce
On The Counter
There are several fruits and vegetables that are best stored on the counter, or in a cool, dry place.
We all know that bananas are most often found, and best stored on the counter. However here is a great tip that can keep your bananas from over ripening too quickly.
When you first get that bunch of bananas home, immediately wrap the top stem with plastic wrap. Gases from the bananas get released from this area, causing the fruit to ripen.
You may need to secure the plastic wrap with rubber bands, but this will definitely delay the ripening process.
However if you do have bananas that ripen too quickly, you can always peel and store them in the freezer. They are a great addition to smoothies or milkshakes!
And don’t forget, if it’s too late, you can always skip the worry of storing fresh produce and go straight to making Banana Bread.
I grew up thinking that tomatoes needed to be stored in the refrigerator. As soon as we picked them from the garden, or brought them home from the grocery store, we immediately put them in our crisper drawer.
It wasn’t until years later that I found out that the best way to store tomatoes is on the counter. Once refrigerated, the tomatoes become soft much quicker than when left out in the open air.
And it makes total sense. Look at where they are stored in the grocery store. They aren’t under the refrigerated section. Most often, they are in a center aisle in the middle of the fresh produce section.
Potatoes and Onions
Yes, you can store potatoes and onions on the counter as well. However, the absolute best place to store these two fresh produce items is in a cool, dark place.
If you have a dry basement or a root cellar, you can keep potatoes for months. Store them in an opened cardboard box, or in a brown paper bag with holes sliced in it, for maximum shelf life.
As for the onions, store them in a mesh bag and hang them whenever possible. This helps prevent the bottoms from turning soft from the pressure of the shelf or container that they come in contact with.
But make sure that you keep your onions far away from the potatoes. They will cause each other to rot when stored together.
Other produce that is best kept on the counter:
There are some other fresh produce items that do best when stored on the counter.
For instance, lemons and limes should never be stored in the refrigerator. The only exception is after you cut them. Once cut, wrap them in plastic wrap and then store in the refrigerator.
Basil leaves can easily get damaged from the cold temperatures in a refrigerator. Therefore it is best to store basil by placing the stems in a glass of water and covering the leaves with a plastic bag.
Trust me, it may sound odd, but your basil will last much longer when stored this way.
In The Refrigerator
Most fruits and vegetables can be stored in the fridge. It is best to store most of them in a crisper drawer to maintain freshness for longer.
For instance, apples, carrots, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, zucchini and even avocados all do well in the crisper drawer.
However there are a few vegetables that require a little more attention to make them last longer.
When you first pick or purchase your lettuce, you will need to wash it before it goes in the refrigerator. But before storing it, be sure to dry the leaves off and then put it in a sealed plastic bag.
Place a few paper towels in the bag. This will help draw the moisture away from the leaves and keep them fresh.
Asparagus is best stored with the stems placed in a glass of cold water. And to help maintain their crispness, wrap a damp paper towel around the exposed upper areas.
Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas
As soon as you pick or purchase bulk green beans, sugar snap peas and/or snow peas, place them in a sealed plastic bag and store them in your crisper drawer.
It is best to keep them unwashed until you are ready to prepare them.
Cilantro and Parsley
Storing fresh produce also includes how to store herbs, such as fresh cilantro and parsley. They are also best stored in the a glass of water. in the fridge. However, instead of wrapping the tops with a damp paper towel, place a plastic bag over the leaves.
This technique will make your leaves last much longer than if left exposed. Although, be sure to change the water every couple of days.
Mushrooms need room to breathe. You can keep them in the original packing and place them in the fridge.
However, if you purchase them out of a bin, resist the urge to throw them in a sealed plastic bag when you get home. They will immediately begin to turn slimy.
The best way to store mushrooms is to store them in an open brown paper bag. And just as a side note – never wash mushrooms before storing them. Wait until you are about ready to use them before cleaning them off.
Berries and Grapes
Both berries and grapes like to have a little fresh air. Although you can store them in your crisper drawer, be sure to keep them in their original packaging if they are store bought.
Fresh picked fruits need to be stored in produce bags that allow air to circulate between the fruit. We use these washable produce bags (affiliate link) – LONOVE Organic Cotton Produce Bags for our berries.
We hope these tips on how on the best ways to store fresh produce will make your fresh produce last just a little longer.
Mary and Jim
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