If you love your vegetables and fruits fresh, you must be taking the effort to find the good ones in the produce aisle. When you buy them, you always look for those that appear juicy, clean, and look like they have just been picked up from the farm. However, adequate care is also required at home to retain the freshness of the fruits and vegetables, even when refrigerated.
All foods cannot be stored alike due to their texture, moisture content, or the degree of ripening of fruits. Some vegetables and fruits need to be refrigerated while some remain fresh at room temperature. The humidity in the environment can also impact the freshness. But no matter how well you store them, these foods still have a shelf life after which they should not be consumed.1 So, keep these tips in mind after your next trip to the supermarket.
Tips To Retain The Freshness Of Veggies And Fruits
1. Wash And Dry Them For Lasting Freshness
As soon as you get the fruits and veggies home, clean them under running tap water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. You can also add vinegar in the water for a rinse. Fresh produce can contain harmful germs that can be detrimental to human health. Discard any over-ripe, rotten, or wilted ones just before storing as they tend to cause the good ones to rot as well.2
2. Keep Potatoes And Onions In The Open
Onions (Allium), potatoes (tubers), and garlic can keep well at normal room temperatures. You can hang them in open mesh/paper bags or leave them out in crates with sufficient ventilation in a cool place. Cover the crates with newspaper sheets to absorb the extra moisture when the climate is humid. Moisture retention in these vegetables can lead to fungus formation.
Do not store onions and potatoes together as they affect each other and lead to faster decay. Whole bulbs of garlic are to be stored at room temperature in mesh bags and removing the pods from the bulb will reduce the shelf life. Paper bags also inhibit sprouting by absorbing the moisture from stored produce.3
3. Store Fruits Away From Vegetables
Most fruits like bananas and whole melons can be kept on your kitchen counter at room temperature and should ideally be consumed within a week. But if you want to keep them for a little longer, you can refrigerate them. Ensure they are stored separately in glass containers or in their respective storage trays in the refrigerator. When stored together, fruits release gases that can cause the vegetables to decay. Keep them separate and you will get to munch on fresh fruits straight from the fridge.4
4. Use Paper Towels To Wrap Leafy Greens
Leafy veggies and herbs easily bear the brunt of wilting even when stored in the refrigerator. Cut off the roots from the leafy veggies, rinse them in tap water to remove any dirt, and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Leave them to air dry, if there is any leftover moisture on the leaves. Wrap them in paper towels, not too tight, to allow adequate flow of air and pack in airtight containers. Follow this tip to keep these leafy beauties as green as they were when you bought them from the store.5
5. Store Vegetables In Perforated Bags
Vegetables let out damaging gases when stored in the refrigerator. Only when these gases are removed can they retain the moisture and freshness. A wise idea is to use perforated bags available in the market. Alternatively, you can just puncture holes in normal plastic bags to let the air pass through. Veggies like carrots and broccoli can be kept for longer using this method. Tomatoes can be left out at room temperature to ripen and stored in the refrigerator once they are ripe.6
With these easy-to-implement tips, you can enjoy your salads and meals with a generous dose of fresh produce.
|↑1||Kader, Adel, Jim Thompson, Kathi Sylva, and Linda Harris. Storing fresh fruits and vegetables for better taste. Cooperative Extension. University of California, 1999.|
|↑2||Sapers, Gerald M. Efficacy of washing and sanitizing methods for disinfection of fresh fruit and vegetable products. Food Technology and Biotechnology 39, no. 4 (2001).|
|↑3||Cantwell, Marita I., and Robert F. Kasmire. Vegetables (Roots, Tubers, and Bulbs).|
|↑4||Gooden, Corey M., Carolina Biotti, and Cristian A. Soto. Fruit and vegetables green sanitizing compartment. U.S. Patent Application 14/118,346, filed March 30, 2012.|
|↑5||Food Safety: What You Should Know. World Health Day.World Health Organization, 2015.|
|↑6||Stewart, Mark. Storing Fresh Fruit and Vegetables. Food – Construed, 2014.|