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How to Keep Produce Fresh

Thanks for making my day by SHARING!!

In an attempt to reduce the amount of kitchen waste my family produces, I’ve done a good deal of research and put in place several of my findings. In the off chance that your family also struggles with food waste, these 17 tips on How to Keep Produce Fresh Longer may come in handy for you too!

So, a ‘friend’ posted this struggle.

She goes to the grocery store and loads her cart with bright red, fresh strawberries because she just knows that today will be the day that her teenage son actually wants a handful of strawberries afterschool instead of stopping on the way home from school for a bag of Doritos. OR…she fills her shopping cart with a rainbow of brilliantly colored vegetables for the hearty and healthy salads they will be eating for several meals this week, only to find that they have several showings scheduled and so end up grabbing pizza instead.

As much as I do appreciate the benefits of compost and building my compost pile, I’d rather it be my strawberry caps and leaves that get composted and not the entire strawberry! Can I get an ‘AMEN’?

I don’t know if this fact will make my friend feel any better, but she is not alone. Sadly, the average American family tosses 25% of their groceries into the trash…yikes!

If your ‘friend’ has the same struggles with keeping food fresher longer, I’ve gathered a few tips on how to keep produce fresh that you can share with her. 

How to Keep Produce Fresh Longer

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  • Don’t wash your fruit and veggies before you need to, but when you do wash them, give them a vinegar bath. The vinegar kills any bacteria spores that could be on the fruit, thereby reducing the opportunity for the mold spores to multiply. I use a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
    strawberries in sink
    Once the fruits have had their vinegar bath, I remove them to a colander or towel or salad spinner to make sure they are completely dry before I store them in the fridge. I also use a berry storage container that maintains an appropriate level of oxygen and carbon dioxide and has a vented tray that prevents the berries from sitting in moisture.
  • Some fruits and vegetables will produce ethylene, a gas that initiates the ripening process.  Ethylene can cause premature ripening in some foods, while in others it can actually cause damage and the more ripe fruit is, the more ethylene gas it emits. To reduce premature ripening or unnecessary spoilage of your produce, do not store ethylene producing fruits and vegetables with those that are sensitive to it.
    • ETHYLENE PRODUCING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES:
      • Apricots
      • Apples
      • Avocados
      • Ripening bananas
      • Cantaloupe
      • Figs
      • Honeydew
      • Kiwi fruit
      • Mangoes
      • Nectarine
      • Papayas
      • Peaches
      • Pears
      • Persimmons
      • Plums
      • Potatoes
      • Prunes
      • Quince
      • Tomatoes
    • ETHYLENE SENSITIVE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES:
      • Unripe bananas
      • Green beans
      • Belgian endive
      • Broccoli
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Cabbage
      • Carrots
      • Cauliflower
      • Chard
      • Cucumbers
      • Eggplant
      • Leafy greens
      • Lettuce
      • Okra
      • Onions
      • Parsley
      • Peas
      • Peppers
      • Spinach
      • Squash
      • Sweet potatoes
      • Watercress
      • Watermelon
  • And because there is an exception for every rule, storing apples with potatoes will actually prevent potatoes from sprouting eyes for up to 8 weeks!
  • While we are talking about potatoes, moisture and light will cause them to spoil at a faster rate, so store them in a dry, cool, and dark place.
  • Consider an ethylene gas absorber in your produce bins is a great way to reduce that decaying process.
  • Use your humidity drawer properly. When you are in the produce aisles of the grocery store, be mindful of what fruit and vegetables are against the wall and under the misters. Only those fruits and vegetables should be in your humidity drawer. This means that onions, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, apples, oranges, etc… should not be in the humidity drawer.
  • Wrap mushrooms in paper towels before storing them.
  • Don’t separate your bananas, but do wrap their stem in plastic wrap.
    Keep Bananas fresh

  • Let avocados ripen at room temperature (putting them in a bag with your bananas will speed up that process) but once ripe, store them in your refrigerator.
  • If you buy your leafy greens in a plastic tub, take the greens out of the tub, wrap them loosely in a paper towel and then return them to the plastic tub.  The paper towel will absorb any unwanted moisture.
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  • Store your lemons and limes in a container of water in your refrigerator.
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  • Parsley and Cilantro will hang around longer if you trim their stems, place them in a jar of water, cover them loosely with a plastic bag, and place them in the refrigerator. Change the water as needed. I was gifted with this herb saver several years ago and have had great success with it as well.
  • For basil, do the same but skip the bag and refrigerator. Basil does best at room temperature.
  • This principle also helps extend the life of asparagus and scallions. Trim the ends of the asparagus, but leave the roots on your scallions.  You can keep your scallions on your counter if you chose, but if you want to pop them in the fridge then cover them lightly with a plastic bag. Change the water as needed.
  • To further extend the life of my fruit and veggies, I have lined my refrigerator produce bins with these inexpensive and lightweight foam liners which absorb moisture and odor and encourage air circulation.
    liner in produce drawer
  • Are your refrigerator and freezer at the right temp? The FDA recommends 40º for your refrigerator to keep food fresh longer. If in doubt, an inexpensive Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer can come in handy.
  • Learn how your refrigerator works. My side by side refrigerator is the very coldest in the top left-hand corner where the air comes in from the freezer and at the bottom as cold air falls.
  • Use a thermometer to find the coldest and warmest spots in your refrigerator and store appropriate food there. For instance, I keep a large pitcher of herbal ice tea at the top left so it is always ‘ice-cold’ and avoid storing lettuce, celery, and other water-heavy fruits and vegetables there.

What are some of your tips for How to Keep Produce Fresh?

I’m a big believer in crowdsourcing, so please do share your tips on how to keep produce fresh to the rest of our family of readers! You can comment below or email me at [email protected]

Strawberries in colander, arugula in paper towel, liner in drawer

And if you want to refer back to these tips on How to Keep Produce Fresh, then bookmark this page or pin the following image.

Strawberries in sink

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Until next time…

Hugs,

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8 Comments

  1. Jenny Young

    April 22, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Love these tips. I have been struggling with scallions going bad so I’ll try the tips for those. I also never thought about wrapping mushrooms in paper towels so I’ll try that. I haven’t had problems with my lemons & limes going bad but I’ll try the water to see if they stay more fresh.

    We eat salad pretty much every day…sometimes more than once a day so we go through a lot of produce.

    The only other tip I can think of has to do with meal planning. I go through my fridge at least once a week, sometimes twice & mentally list the foods that need to be eaten within a day or so. Then I plan meals around those foods. If I just can’t get them into meals I try to freeze them for cooking in the future. I think it just takes practice to prevent food waste starting with buying only what you’ll eat to being willing to get creative with leftovers.

    Love this post & the new ideas.

    Reply
    • lynn

      April 24, 2018 at 11:47 am

      Hey Jenny,

      Meal planning is key! I used to be very good at it, then fell off of the wagon, and now I’m better at it.

      I am so glad you will use some of the tips…always happy to help my friends save a few $$$$.

      Hugs, Lynn

      Reply
  2. Lesley

    April 22, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Lynn,
    I have a tip for celery: when you bring it home, wrap it ina dampened paper towel, then wrap it in aluminum foil. It will keep fresh for a couple of weeks!

    Reply
    • lynn

      April 24, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Really? I need to give that one a try Lesley! Thanks for the suggestion my friend.

      Reply
  3. Sherry Somers

    May 1, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Thank you so much! I love the produce fresher post. I will definately be using it. Thank you also for all your research on the subject. You have everyone a lot of time. 🙂

    Reply
    • lynn

      May 2, 2018 at 10:55 am

      You are so very welcome Sherry!

      I am always trying to find out newer/better ways to do things and love sharing them with my fantastic readers!

      Thanks for taking the time to send in your kind comments.

      Have a great day, my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

      Reply
  4. Mikaela

    May 6, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I love these tips! There are some really good ideas I never heard of and I can’t wait to implement them. My berries always get mushy too quickly so I’m definitely going to try the vinegar bath. I’m also going to look into the foam liners for the the fruit and veggies drawers. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • lynn

      May 7, 2018 at 6:29 am

      Good Morning Mikaela!

      Thanks so much for coming by and leaving your kind comment.

      I have been doing the ‘vinegar’ tip for years and I really do believe that it extends their life. Just make sure they are good and dry before you refrigerate them.

      Hope all these tips help!

      Have a fantastic day my friend.

      Hugs, Lynn

      Reply

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