Today’s Solutions: April 24, 2024

We’ve all experienced that let down of looking in the fridge to find your strawberries have gone moldy or your lettuce has wilted. Fortunately, a few easy steps can help you salvage that produce and cut down on food waste! Here are some tips and tricks.

Washing 101

Don’t wash your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to eat them. It’s tempting to head straight to the sink so your produce is ready to go when you need it, but holding off can help items last longer. Especially for more vulnerable produce like berries and greens, the water can cause them to break down much faster.

Storage

Reusable produce bags can help protect your produce from chemicals that speed up organic decay. Wrapping greens in paper towels also absorbs extra moisture and trimming the ends of greens, as you would flowers, keeps them fresh longer too.

Some fruits naturally release ethylene gas, which hastens ripening. This can come in handy if you’re trying to get an avocado ripe by taco night, but avoid storing apples and bananas with ethylene-sensitive items like lettuces, broccoli, and stone fruits.

Mind your fridge

Your refrigerator temperature should be cold enough to keep items fresh, but not too cold that it damages flavor or texture. Play around with the temperature settings on your fridge to find this sweet spot. Keep in mind, certain items, like tomatoes, potatoes, citrus, and berries don’t need to be kept in the fridge at all unless they are getting overripe.

Produce-specific tips 
  1. Potatoes (and sweet potatoes!) – Store these in a cool dark place with good air circulation, but not in the fridge. These are still good until they turn green or begin to sprout.
  2. Onions and garlic – These should also be stored in a cool dark place, but should be kept away from potatoes. These are still safe to eat even if they begin to sprout.
  3. Cabbage and lettuces – Store these unwashed in the fridge and place cabbage in an airtight container once cut.
  4. Apples and pears – Contrary to what fruit bowl fans would like to believe, apples and pears actually prefer to be refrigerated. Store in an airtight bag in a crisper drawer designated for ethylene-producing fruits.
  5. Citrus – Citrus is hearty. It will last for a week on the counter or longer in the fridge. It’s also not ethylene sensitive so you can safely keep it near apples and bananas.
  6. Roots and tubers – These can be confusing as they are not stored like their potato cousins. Remove any leafy green tops and store in an airtight bag in the fridge.

These simple strategies can help your produce live a longer life to save you money while reducing food waste. If you find yourself constantly throwing away rotting produce, you may want to reconsider how much you’re buying or split produce purchases with a friend or neighbor. Remember, you can always freeze items that are heading past their prime and use them in smoothies and other easy recipes!

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