Food waste is such a terrible thing, especially when you’re on a budget and you want to make your money stretch. So how can you make that delicious produce last longer?
As it turns out, there are a few simple tricks that anyone can implement in their own home to make their produce last its full shelf life. Of course, produce is still best when it’s fresh, so don’t expect these tricks to give you hundreds of extra miles on your fruits and vegetables. But hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you will be able to stretch the life of your produce just a little bit longer, thereby avoiding unnecessary food waste.
1. Ethylene Aware
Some of the produce that we buy produces a particular gas called ethylene whenit ripens. This is fine, but what you might now know is that the gas can cause some ethylene-sensitive foods to ripen much faster then they should, and even rot. You can avoid this happening by storing ethylene producers away from ethylene-sensitive produce. Ethylene-producing produce includes avocados, bananas, kiwis, pears, plums and tomatoes, while ethylene-sensitive fruits include apples, broccoli, carrots and watermelons. Check out a full list here.
2. Ripen Naturally
In general, your fridge can seriously mess up the way that fruits and vegetables ripen. So, if you’re sick of your produce not tasting as good as it should, try counter ripening instead. For unripe fruits and vegetables like peaches, plums, pears, kiwis, mangoes, apricots, melons, avocados and bananas, ripen them initially on your counter. Then, when they’re ripe, shift them to the fridge.
3. Citrus Considerations
For citrus fruits, like oranges, tangerines, limes and lemons, you can store them for as long as a week in a cool, dark place that’s away from direct sunlight. However, you’ll find they last quite a bit longer when they’re stored in the fridge in a mesh bag. Be careful not to store your citrus too high in the fridge, or they’re dry and won’t be as juicy.
4. Berry Bad
For the berry lovers among us, make sure you don’t wash the berries that you buy until just before you’re ready to eat them. When you wash berries too soon before eating, the wetness can encourage mould to grow, which obviously spoils the berry. Just give them a rinse before you eat them instead.
5. Plate Up Pineapple
Pineapples are an unusual fruit in that when they’re picked, stored and transported, the sugars in the fruit tend to settle on the bottom of the fruit, which means the bottom can rot before the top is really done. To combat this, cut the leafy top part off the pineapple and then store them upside down. This moves the sugars back into the top, and encourages even ripening
6. Leafy Greens
If you’re fond of leafy greens and herbs, but not really sure how to keep them fresh and avoid the slime, listen up. Store your leafy greens and herbs in bags (plastic is good) that are filled with a little air and sealed tightly. This helps them to avoid being crushed. Also make sure they’re not high up in the fridge, or they’ll freeze and turn to sludge!
7. For The Washers
For those effective people who like to wash, dry and cut their fruit all at once, consider storing the food in transparent containers in the fridge, preferably glass ones. Just line the bottom in paper towel to absorb any moisture, and you’re ready to go. These kinds of containers mean that you can easily see what you have, but they also keep the moisture out because they’re sealed, which lengthens shelf life.
8. Be Fast With Rot
It pays to be vigilant with your produce, because rot and spoil is a domino effect. Regularly check your crisper and your fridge for signs of rot in your fresh produce, and be sure to remove anything that is spoiled as quickly as possible. If you don’t, the rot can spread quickly, ruining the rest of your perfectly good produce needlessly.