The Secret to Keeping Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer | Seventh Generation
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The Secret to Keeping Fruits and Vegetables Fresh Longer

4 comments
Author: Seventh Generation

When it comes to spending time together, fruits and vegetables are surprisingly human-like. It seems the real secret to keeping them at their freshest for as long as possible is simply knowing where they like to spend their time and which fruits and veggies get along best.

Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they're picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days.

You can take advantage of this if you want to speed up the ripening process. Put an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado, or a peach in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, keep them away from ethylene-producing foods.

Store cold-sensitive fruits and veggies on the counter, not in the fridge since lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Once they’re fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best flavor, return them to room temp. Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

And remember: One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold spreads rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately. For longer life, keep your produce whole --don’t even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it. We love how this quick-reference chart from sparkpeople.com puts it all in order.

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Comments

amanda77kr picture
amanda77kr
03/04/14
@loritrippe....I set out last year to figure out where in my house potatoes and onions lasted the longest. I tried storing them alone, in paper bags, in ziploc bags, etc, and scattered them in all the dark corners and the fridge. The worst was of course the warmest place. Anyplace cool and dark, and they all did okay. That included the fridge. We store cut onions in the fridge and whole ones in a cabinet because our fridge has too much moisture for root veggies. I have learned to use these guides as just that - a guide. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, an awful lot depends on your storage conditions. Like mushrooms? In a paper bag they'd last 3 days in my fridge. In a sealed container with the light blocked out, they've lasted two weeks. I HAVE found that fruits taste terrible cold. Blech! I let them warm to room temperature first and they are just as tasty no matter if they were stored in the fridge first or not.
loritrippe picture
loritrippe
02/28/14
Also, I remember hearing a chef say that those ropes of garlic you see hanging in kitchens are for decoration only. Garlic must be refrigerated to be kept fresh.
loritrippe picture
loritrippe
02/28/14
I've kept onions and garlic in the produce drawer my whole life and my mother did also before that. The one time I left my onions in a closed bin on the shelf in the pantry, they turned moldy and mushy in a couple of weeks. In the fridge they last indefinitely... or so it seems. Can someone tell em why to NEVER put them int he fridge as your post recommends? I have kept lettuce fresh and crisp for up to a month by storing it in a produce bag (colored bag I got at the grocery store that is supposed to allow the gas to escape and not ripen or cause it to get old too fast) wrapped in a paper towel. If the towel absorbs the moisture that can accumulate in the bag, it doesn't get soft.
weddingdance picture
weddingdance
02/28/14
Love this poster, thanks! I have noticed that the veggies in the bin in the fridge last longer than the ones just on the shelf, don't know if it's just coincidence.