How to keep fruits and vegetable fresh for longer

Extend the shelf lives of your fresh vegetables and fruits with these fail-proof methods. No more rotten vegetables in the fridge! 

fruits and vegetables on the table

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We all love eating fresh fruits and vegetables and some of us would even go to the extent of getting them straight from Cameron Highlands. Unfortunately, fresh produce has a short shelf life and can only last a few days. If you don’t consume it soon, you’ll find them rotting away in your crisper drawer. To prevent this from ever happening, you need to know how to store them the right way to store in the refrigerator stocked with greens all year long. Here are some simple tips to storing fruits and vegetables fresh for longer. 

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1. Separate your produce

fresh groceries

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While it’s convenient to stow all of your fresh items in the same place, it’s advisable not to do that. Some fruits and vegetables like bananas, broccoli and avocados produce ethylene gas and it helps to speed up the ripening process of other produce. In short, your produce will rot faster. 

2. Store unripe fruits on the counter

Unripe fruits? Store them on the kitchen counter. Once they’re ripe, move them to the fridge to lengthen their shelf lives. Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables for this method:

  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Kiwis
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Mangoes

Don’t worry if your banana peels turn dark brown, the flesh is still fresh and it’s ready to eat. 

Read more: 9 Easy tips to eat healthy and exercise regularly when you have to work from home

3. Keep fresh salad sealed

Want to keep some salad for another day? Transfer the leaves to an airtight food container to prevent leaves from wilting. This method also helps them to stay crisp! On the other hand, if you’ve bought a whole lettuce, remove the leaves before soaking them in a bowl of cold water. Let it sit for a couple of hours and then use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Spread the leaves out on a tea towel and roll them up before keeping them in the container. Oh, don’t forget to keep them in the refrigerator too!

4. Pick only fresh produce

grocery shopping

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This should come as no surprise, but the fruits and vegetables that you pick have to be in its prime or it doesn’t matter how you store it. If you bring home a wilted bunch of leafy greens, there’s literally nothing you can do to save it.  

Read more: 9 kitchen storage hacks and solutions for your home

5. Place tall stalks in a vase

Yes, display them like your favourite bunch of flowers to help to keep them fresher for longer. You can either wrap the bases of the leafy greens with damp paper towels or store them upright in a half-filled glass jar. This should slow down the wilting process. 

6. Go for root vegetables

root vegetables

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Root vegetables like beets, carrots and turnips generally last longer as compared to the rest. If you want it to last even longer (say for another week), do this:

For carrots: Wrap the carrots in a paper towel and then place them in a bag in the refrigerator. Avoid pre-washing, excess water will cause them to rot. 

For beets: Store beets in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer. 

For turnips: Wrap turnips in a moist paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer. 

For onions and shallots: Leave them in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated room like your pantry. Once peeled, keep them in the fridge and they can last for another 10 – 14 days. 

For sweet potatoes: Store in a cool, dry, dark place. Leave them unwrapped and you can keep them for up to two months.  

For potatoes: Keep them away from sunlight and place them in a well-ventilated container in a dry area. 

For gingers and turmeric: Keep them in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container in the crisper drawer. For cut or peeled ginger, blot it with a paper towel before storing it using the same method. 

For garlic: Store garlic at room temperature in a dry, dark and well-ventilated area, like in a wire-mesh basket or open paper bag in a cupboard or pantry.

For radishes: Keep unwashed radishes with their greens removed in a zip-lock bag with a slightly damp, folded paper towel at the bottom. Put the bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.

For fennels: Trim the leaves to two or three inches above the bulb before wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag. Store them in the fridge and it will last at least 5 to 10 days. 

For celery: Keep it whole, wrap it in aluminium foil, and store it in the crisper drawer.

For leek: Store unwashed and untrimmed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Read more: 8 ways to organise your fridge for healthier eating

7. Keep citrus fruits in the fridge

Woman opening refrigerator drawer with fresh fruits

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Nothing quenches your thirst like fresh citrus fruits. To prolong their shelf lives, store your citrus in the crisper section of your refrigerator. It will last for two to four weeks. If you store at room temperature, you can only store them for up to three to four days. 

8. Wash berries with a diluted vinegar bath

Fresh berries don’t come cheap so if you don’t want your money to go to waste, try this method. Prepare a bowl of diluted vinegar solution — 1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water. Wash the fresh berries in the solution before drying them with paper towels. You can opt to use a salad spinner as well. Store them in a container lined with paper towels to absorb moisture as moisture is one of the biggest culprits of them turning mouldy. 

9. Don’t wash until you’re ready to use

washing carrots

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 The habit of washing all of your fresh produce after bringing them home from the market needs to stop. Washing fresh vegetables and fruits before storing them will accelerate spoilage because bacteria thrive in damp conditions. 

10. Store mushrooms in a paper bag

When it comes to mushrooms, don’t keep them in plastic bags, use paper instead. Mushrooms have high water content and if you store them in a plastic bag, the trapped moisture will cause them to turn slimy. Paper bags, on the other hand, allow them to breathe. 

11. Give lettuce plenty of room to breathe

iceberg lettuce

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Unlike most fresh vegetables, lettuce needs both humidity and ventilation. That means simply storing them in a plastic bag or in the crisper drawer won’t do. It won’t make your lettuces go bad, but they won’t last either. To keep them fresh for longer, you need to wash them, spin them dry and store them in a perforated plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. 

To sum it up, different fruits and veggies require different storing methods to extend their shelf lives. If you notice any rotten produce, compost it immediately before it starts to spoil the rest of the produce.

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