What’s your normal routine when you get home from grocery shopping?
Is it a mad dash to chuck everything away as quickly as possible? Yes – this is me too!
Researchers at the University of Arizona spent a year tracking the food habits of families. The results reported in 2002, were pretty shocking.
They found that families tossed out an average of 470 pounds of food per year, that was an annual cost of $600.
Every day, they discarded more than half a pound of fruits and veggies.
Do you find yourself discarding lots of fruits and vegetables each week?
If your produce rots after just a few days, you may be storing incompatible fruits and vegetables together.
Tips for prolonging fruits and vegetables
#1 The crisper drawer
The crisper is much more humid than the rest of the fridge, therefore foods that need a humid atmosphere should be placed here, for example lettuce, spinach, and carrots.
#2 Refrigerator shelves
The refrigerator shelf is the best place for any fruits or vegetables that need air circulation. Examples include, unhusked corn, most berries, cucumbers, or mushrooms.
#3 Gas sensitive produce
Some fruits emit ethylene gas, which speeds ripening and decay of ethylene sensitive produce.
Examples of gas sensitive produce:
- Bananas, ripe
- Brussels sprouts
- Lettuce, and other leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
#4 Produce to be refrigerated
- Apples (more than 7 days)*
- Berries – blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
- Cut fruits
- Green beans
- Lima beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Cut vegetables
- Green onions
- Herbs (not basil)
- Leafy vegetables
- Summer squashes
- Sweet corn
(* indicates gas releaser, store away from ethylene sensitive produce)
#5 Ripen on counter, then refrigerate
Some fruits and vegetables are cold-sensitive, losing their flavour and moisture at low temperatures. Examples include:
They should be stored on the kitchen counter, rather than in the fridge, until they’re fully ripe. After ripening they can be refrigerated to prolong their life.
(* these are gas releaser’s, and should be kept away from ethlyne sensitive produce.)
#6 Store at room temperature
- Apples (fewer than 7 days)*
- Basil (in water)
- Winter squashes
These are best kept on the coolest part of your counter.
#7 Store in a dark pantry
- Sweet potato
- Winter squash
These should be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area in the pantry, where they can last up to a month, or more.
#8 Correct storage in the fridge
Fruits and vegetables should not be stored in airtight bags in the fridge.
They must be able to breathe – suffocating them will speed up the decay process.
- Most fruits and vegetables keep well in perforated plastic bags.
- Before storing berries, remove any spoiled fruits, then place unwashed in plastic bags or plastic containers.
- Mushrooms and okra should be stored in paper bags.
#9 Grocery shopping
At the supermarket shop for nonperishables first, to prevent fruits and vegetables getting warm, and rapidly respiring.
Try to get your fresh produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible, or store temporarily in a cooler bag.
#10 Consume fastest spoilers first
Check out Spoiled Rotten for a handy guide to eating the most perishable items first.
Also, keep produce whole, as this will help to prolong its lifespan.