Fresh produce forms an important part of our diet, and it has become such a normal part of our grocery shopping that we often forget that it needs to be stored correctly. Below are some of the most common mistakes we make when storing fresh produce and how to avoid them.
Storing produce exactly as it’s displayed in the supermarket
Fresh produce sections in supermarkets are constantly rotated to keep them looking fresh, which can mislead consumers into thinking that if an item is stored outside the refrigerator in the store then that is how it should be stored at home. But this is not always the case. It is always best to research how particular fruit and vegetables should be stored instead of assuming that they should be stored as they are displayed. For example, leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach should always be refrigerated to prevent wilting, even though they may be displayed outside the refrigerator in the store.
Keeping tomatoes in the refrigerator
Most people tend to store their tomatoes in the crisper of the refrigerator. However, research shows that unless they are pre-cut, tomatoes stored in the refrigerator tend to not ripen properly and lose flavor. Unripe or fresh tomatoes should be stored on the kitchen countertop and covered with a towel to protect them from fruit flies.
Keeping zucchini in the coolest part of your refrigerator
Whilst zucchini does need to be refrigerated, it can be very sensitive to cold temperatures and could go bad if it gets too cold. It’s best to keep zucchini wrapped up in paper towels in the crisper to protect it from the extreme cold of the main parts of your refrigerator.
Storing uncut watermelon in the fridge
Nothing is better than fresh cool watermelon on a hot summer’s afternoon. However, uncut watermelon can actually lose its flavor and quality if kept in the fridge. It is best to keep uncut watermelon on your countertop at room temperature and only refrigerate it once you have cut it up.
Keeping fresh berries in the fridge for too long before freezing
Fresh berries can make a great treat, and frozen berries are excellent for smoothies or sorbets. But keeping fresh berries in the fridge for too long before you freeze them could allow them to spoil. Berries spoil very easily so it is best to freeze them as soon as possible or as soon as you see that they are on the verge of becoming overripe.
Storing fruit and vegetables next to each other randomly
Did you know that most fruits produce a hormone known as ethylene as they ripen, which can cause vegetables (and certain other fruits) to spoil when exposed? Avoid storing fruits that produce ethylene, such as peaches, oranges, and avocados next to ethylene sensitive vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and cucumbers. It’s also recommended not to store ethylene producing produce in airtight containers as this can cause them to ripen too fast and spoil.
Storing loose root vegetables
Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, and onions can last for exceptionally long periods of time when stored in a bag in the refrigerator. This allows them to retain moisture well. Keeping these vegetables in bags also allows you to easily keep them organized in your refrigerator. And if you are environmentally conscious, you don’t have to use plastic bags, reusable cotton bags work just as well.