Fresh produce is usually one of my family’s biggest grocery expenses, second only to meat. It also used to make up the largest portion of wasted food in the trash can each week. Every time I turned around, it seemed like I was tossing out some type of once fresh produce. A slimy half tomato on Tuesday, a wilted bunch of celery on Wednesday, a mushy brown apple on Monday – it was never ending.
I got so sick of fresh produce going bad, I did a little digging, and came up with lots of nifty little tricks to make produce last longer!
- Buy (or pick) firmer varieties of apples, since these tend to store longer than softer varieties.
- Store apples in a cool spot in your pantry or in your refrigerator to make them last longer.
- Remove any apples that are getting soft or brown spots, since one bad apple really can spoil the bunch.
- Trim the bottoms of asparagus stalks with a sharp knife and place – cut ends down – in a wide mouth mason jar or glass with a bit of water in the bottom.
- Cover with a plastic produce bag and store in the refrigerator for best results.
- Separate bananas and wrap the stems in plastic wrap. This prevents most of the ethylene gas from being released, which slows the ripening process.
- Store bananas in a bowl with a piece of unripe fruit, which will absorb some of the ethylene gas that does escape.
- Green peppers will last longer than red, yellow, or orange peppers. Green peppers that start to turn red, yellow, or orange are completely safe to eat; they’re simply ripening.
- Store uncut bell peppers in a paper bag in the crisper drawer.
- Cut peppers that you wont use within a week can be chopped and frozen to use later for cooking.
- Trim the very bottom of the stalk and store stem side down in a tall glass with a little water in the bottom and store in the refrigerator.
- Wrap broccoli heads loosely in damp paper towels and store in the refrigerator.
- Trim off green tops before storing.
- Store carrots for longer than a week or two by submerging them in water in a sealed plastic container. Change the water every few days.
- Never store carrots near fruits or veggies that emit ethylene gas, including tomatoes, apples, pears, and bananas.
- Leave celery unwashed, uncut, and connected to the heart until you’re ready to use it.
- Wrap celery in aluminum foil to keep it crisp for weeks.
- Wrap each cucumber individually in a dry paper towel, place them in a plastic bag, and store them in the refrigerator. Replace any damp paper towels periodically.
- Cut cucumbers can be sliced and tossed into your favorite pickle juice.
- Wrap bunches or grapes loosely in dry paper towels.
- Store in an open bowl or container in the refrigerator.
- Leave heads of lettuce whole until you’re ready to use them. Peel off layers of lettuce as you need it.
- Wrap lettuce loosely in dry paper towels and place in a resealable plastic bag to prevent mushy brown lettuce. This also works for leftover salad lettuce and shredded lettuce.
- Never wash mushrooms until you’re ready to use them.
- Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
- Store onions in clean panyhose, with a knot tied between each onion.
- Hang in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Store out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry well-ventilated area.
- Place potatoes in a cloth sack, basket, wooden box, or paper bag with ventilation holes.
- Never store potatoes with onions.
- Place an apple in with your potatoes to prevent them from sprouting.
- Don’t toss potatoes with green spots or sprouts. Simply cut these areas away before using.
- Periodically check potatoes and remove any soft or rotten ones.
Strawberries (Works for most berries)
- Rinse strawberries in a solution of one part vinegar and ten parts water to prevent bacterial growth before storing.
- Pat dry and allow to dry completely before storing.
- Wrap loosely in dry paper towels and store in a bag in the refrigerator.
- Remove from plastic packaging.
- Store tomatoes stem side down at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
- Store overripe and cut tomatoes in the refrigerator. Cut tomatoes should be in a sealed plastic bag or container.
What type of produce always goes bad at your house? Do you have any other tips for how to make produce last longer and reduce food waste?