You’ve brought home a batch of fresh fruits and veggies, put them in the fridge and gone about your life. But a few days later, everything is shrivelled, rotten or limp. What happened? Much of the time, it’s the way you’re storing them. Packing a fridge is an art, but one that can easily be mastered! To help you hit your five a day, here are some tips on how to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer.
Give Your Produce Some Space
We all enjoy our personal space, and the same goes for our fruits and veggies. Try not to cram your fridge: with air circulating around the produce, moisture evaporates and mold is curbed. By not packing your fridge choc-full, you’ll also be able to see and use what’s in it, helping you avoid food waste!
Watch out for Gassy Produce
Some fruits and vegetables – like apples, bananas, pears and potatoes – produce a gas called ethylene that accelerates the ripening process of other produce. Assuming you don’t want your apples rotting in a few days, keep everything as separate as you can! You should also avoid putting fruit and vegetables in the same fridge drawer, or next to one another on the countertop.
Freezing food is one of the best ways to preserve it. But instead of throwing whole apples and bananas into the freezer, let fruit reach the desired stage of ripeness first, then peel and cut into pieces and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet tray until solid. You can store the pieces in a resealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container for up to three months! For vegetables, chop and blanch before freezing.
Use containers and the crisper
Generally, the top part of your fridge is prone to temperature swings. Keep your most delicate produce (like herbs and lettuce) in the middle of the fridge. Most vegetables belong in their own container, or the crisper in the fridge.
Keep them out of the sun
When leaving fruits and veggies out to ripen, protect them from direct sunlight so as not to have them ripen too quickly – or worse, rot. Tomatoes, for instance, can ripen in a cool spot in your kitchen, while the same goes for yams and potatoes.
Rinse and wrap leafy greens
To extend the life of leafy greens including lettuce, bok choy, kale and spinach, rinse and wrap them in a tea towel before putting in a separate container – like a Stasher bag. This will keep them fresher, not to mention way more convenient when you’re ready to use them.
Keep Produce Dry
With some exceptions such as leafy greens, try not to wash produce until you’re ready to use it. While a little humidity is good for produce, wetness can encourage bacteria growth, thereby spoiling your fruits and veggies quicker.
Even when washed, make sure that you thoroughly dry the fruit and/or vegetable before putting it away. There are some exceptions to this: storing whole carrots in a covered container of water will keep them firm; the same goes for celery. Mushrooms should be kept dry and in a paper bag.
The best way to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer? Simply do not buy too much of it at once. With so many fresh produce markets in Hong Kong, buy only what you need instead of packing your fridge to the max and letting your produce go to waste.
It’s that simple! Follow these eight tips to save your fruits and veggies from going rotten before you actually get to enjoy them. Food waste is a massive problem around the world and being more mindful of how you handle your produce will certainly help ease the problem!