Byline: Alicia Lawrence
Summer is here and with it tons of delicious, fresh, sweet fruits and veggies. From the first strawberries in the spring to the last sweet corn and cauliflower in the fall, we love our fresh foods. They taste better when they are fresh and are more nutritious, so going to the local farmers market and stocking up sounds like a great idea, right?
The great prices and sumptuous flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market make it tempting to fill your shopping cart. But what happens when you get it home? How much do you end up throwing away because it goes bad before you can eat it? Try some of these seven weird and brilliant storage tips to keep your produce fresh for as long as it takes you to eat it!
1. Abandon The Crisper
Believe it or not, some things will store better on the counter than in the vegetable drawer! Learning which foods should stay cold and which don’t need refrigeration to stay fresh is a big step towards maximizing your enjoyment of fresh fruits and veggies this summer. Melons like cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew should remain on the counter for maximum sweetness. Chilling before eating is okay, but they should be stored on the counter, as should many other fruits like cucumbers, lemons and pomegranates.
2. Green Bag Bananas
You know those little green bags that the vendor at the farmers market packs your bananas in? When you get the fruit home, store the bananas in that type of bag at room temperature to keep them from going brown before you have a chance to eat them. These bags slow down the ripening process so that your slightly green bananas may take a week to get ripe rather than just a few days.
3. The Sweeter Peach
There is nothing sweeter than a peach that is at the perfect stage of ripeness. But how do you store peaches so that they will get ripe without rotting? Keep them on the countertop at room temperature if you buy them a little green.
After that, if you don’t eat them right away, store them on a shelf in your refrigerator where they won’t get bruised. After all, no one likes mushy fruit. If you find yourself with too many peaches to eat right away and they are going soft in your refrigerator, slice them up and store them in quart bags in your freezer. Take some out and put them on your cereal, bake them into pies or use them however you would use other frozen fruit.
Berries are one of the hardest fruits to keep fresh since they have such a short shelf life. Blueberries should be eaten within 14 days after harvesting if they are to be eaten fresh. The best way to store berries for fresh eating is to wash them gently, remove all crushed, soft or moldy berries from the container and store the good ones in a plastic, glass or ceramic dish. Make sure to place a paper towel in the bottom to draw away excess moisture and keep berries from getting moldy. This goes for most berries, though raspberries should not be washed until ready for use to prevent mold growth.
5. Banish Brown Cauliflower
This flower vegetable is packed full of nutrients, but it does tend to develop unappetizing brown spots when it is stored too long. To prevent that, keep the cauliflower dry and store it in a perforated, plastic bag with the stem up in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
6. Paper Towel Dehumidifier
Ever notice how spinach develops a slimy texture when stored too long? Try gently storing it in a plastic bag with a folded paper towel to absorb extra moisture.
7. Onions vs. Potatoes
Storing onions is a skill that has been pictured in every western movie made in the early television days. Strings of braided onions hung from the rafters in any ranch house. Now, most people just toss them in the vegetable drawer. When stored this way, onions tend to hold onto their moisture, creating an unappetizing texture.
Storing onions in a cool, dry place like a paper bag in the pantry or a basket in the cupboard is a better solution because their skins dry out and they keep longer. Just keep them away from potatoes, which can soak up the moisture given off by the onions. No one likes the stench of rotting potatoes.
This summer, feel free to stock up on fresh produce at the market. Now you know how to store some of the most common fruits and vegetables so that they will last longer and save you from throwing away what you can’t eat.