The numbers are staggering. About 25% of residential garbage comes from uneaten or spoiled food. And nearly half of all produced fruits and vegetables are wasted — somewhere along the line from farm to supermarket to our homes.
Surprisingly, there are a few really effective ways to keep your produce fresher longer to help you avoid waste and save on your grocery bills.
1. Beware of ethylene: Foods like apples, avocados, pears, tomatoes, and bananas emit a gas called ethylene as they ripen. But other produce, like mangos, asparagus, peaches, onions, grapes, and cucumbers actually spoil faster if they’re exposed to ethylene. So, make sure you don’t store the two groups of fruits and vegetables together.
2. Slow down ripening: Avocados, mangos and pineapple are best kept out at room temperature but if they’re ripening faster than you’re planning on eating them, place them in the fridge. It’ll slow down ripening for two or three days.
3. Keep these fruits refrigerated: Though they may add color to your counter, citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit last much longer in the fridge than out.
4. Keep these veggies refrigerated, too: Carrots, beets, turnips, ginger, and other root vegetables should be bagged and sealed, unwashed, and placed in the fridge. Washing them first only leaves moisture that makes them go limp.
5. Green washing: Leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach will stay fresher longer if they’re rinsed in cool water, then dried, wrapped loosely in paper towel, and sealed in a plastic bag before you refrigerate them.
6. Wax on: Fruits and veggies like apples, oranges, nectarines, bell peppers and eggplants have a natural waxy layer on their exterior, or they’re coated with artificial wax to prevent bruising and rotting. Don’t wash off this protective coating until you’re ready to eat or cook them.
7. Cool berries: Berries — strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries — last longer when they’re refrigerated near freezing and kept in a dry environment. In fact, moisture only makes them get mushy more quickly.
8. Bouquets of herbs: Mint, parsley, and cilantro last longer when they’re placed in a jar with water and refrigerated. To preserve dry herbs, try place them in a plastic bag and blow into it — your breath’s carbon dioxide actually makes them last longer.
What are your own secret tips to keep produce fresher longer? Please share with the Shop Talk blog community!
Did you know: Lemon saves avocado
Notice how a halved avocado quickly turns brown if it’s left out or stored? Simply squirt and slather on a few drops of lemon or lime juice — your avocado will stay green an extra day or two.