Buying fresh fruits and veggies can be intimidating for many reasons. One of those reasons is making it last. Fresh fruits and vegetables are perishable, which means they have a limited shelf-life and are susceptible to spoilage. No one wants to waste food or money, and that explains why buying fresh produce can be a turn-off. It certainly doesn’t last as long as boxed and packaged foods, which are typically high in salt and other preservatives that keep them from going bad. While these types of foods can serve their purpose, my goal here today is to inspire you to eat more fruits and veggies by overcoming the hurdle of not being able to eat them before they spoil.
I know first-hand how tricky it can be to make fresh produce last. It typically happens like this: I buy a bunch of fruits and veggies at the store and farmer’s market over the weekend, with intentions to use it all throughout the week. I typically bookmark some recipes that I want to make and plan from there. But then life happens! I might end up with plans in the evenings which = no time to cook which = produce sits in the fridge for another day or two. I am just as guilty of food waste as the next person but I’m always trying to improve and look for ways to make my produce last longer in the kitchen.
That’s why today, I bring you my 15 favorite tips to make fresh produce last longer.
15 Ways to Make Fresh Produce Last Longer
Some of these tips are focused on specific foods, while others are more general. If you have a tip to add to this list, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
- Avoid washing berries until right before you eat them. If you wash them right away, the moisture will promote mold growth.
- Store your greens properly. If you purchased bagged greens, insert a paper towel or two into the bag. It will absorb moisture and keep greens crisp & fresh. Make sure the bag is filled with a little air and sealed tightly.
- Only buy what you need at the store. If you can, make 2-3 smaller grocery store trips during the week instead of 1. It is also helpful to plan ahead with a grocery list and/or a meal plan so you don’t over-purchase.
- Place produce such as broccoli, carrots, and lettuce in the crisper in your fridge as soon as possible. If you can, prioritize cooking with them first. These veggies start to spoil as soon as they’re picked, so it’s important to pay close attention to keeping them fresh.
- Unripe fruits, such as avocados, peaches, mangoes, bananas, and melons can be stored on the counter. When they start to ripen, eat them or put them in the fridge. This will slow the ripening process and prevent spoilage.
- Potatoes, onions and tomatoes don’t need to be stored in the fridge! In fact, cold temperatures may ruin their flavor. Instead, store them in a cool, dry place so they last longer and are delicious enough to eat.
- Freeze it! If you know you won’t be able to eat your fruits and veggies before they go bad, chop them up and store them in a container in the freezer for later. I do this frequently with ripe bananas: slice them, freeze them, and use in smoothies later on.
- Store ethylene-producing fruits & veggies separately from other produce. Ethylene is a gas that can ripen and damage foods before they are eaten. Apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydew melon, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes are all ethylene-producing and should be stored separately from apples, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, lettuce and other greens, potatoes, summer squash and watermelons.
- Compost rotten produce right away. If it is being stored next to other fruits and veggies, it will cause them to spoil as well.
- Wrap celery in aluminum foil before storing it in the fridge.
- Make sure that your fridge is at the correct temperature! Fresh fruits and vegetables should be stored at a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower.
- The longer you wait to cut your fruits and veggies, the longer they will last. It is best to not cut produce until right before you need it. If you prefer to prep your veggies ahead of time, wrap them in a paper towel before storing them in a container, which will help absorb moisture.
- If you cut up apples, avocados, guacamole or bananas, squeeze some lemon juice on them. The acidity will prevent them from browning.
- Avoid storing produce in areas that tend to have heat or smoke, such as by the oven. This can contribute to ripening and spoilage.
- Store mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge. Avoid using plastic or glass containers for mushrooms, as these will trap in moisture.