How to Keep Produce Fresh
Keeping produce fresh is imperative to healthy eating and cooking, not to mention the bank account. When you bring those grocery bags in from your weekly shopping trips, do these three things first.
- Make sure you have the refrigerator set at the proper temperature. Bacteria grows more quickly above 40 degrees Fahrenheit - keep your refrigerator below that. I keep mine between 35 - 38 degrees. If your refrigerator does not have a thermometer, purchase one designed to be kept in the refrigerator.
- Keep fruits and vegetables separate in the refrigerator. If your refrigerator has two crisper drawers, store fruits in one and vegetables in the other. Some fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gases that help them ripen but can also make other produce ripen too quickly.
- If you have crisper drawers in your refrigerator, store the produce that rots quickly (typically fruits like apples, pears, stone fruits, kiwis, etc.) on a low humidity setting. Store the produce that needs extra humidity (leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.) on a high humidity setting. Simply controlling these settings and what goes in these drawers will help keep your produce fresher longer.
It's always helpful to have a clean and organized refrigerator to start with. Consider wiping your refrigerator out ahead of your weekly shopping trips before you fill it up with fresh groceries.
How to Store Produce
Once you have the perfect environment for produce in your refrigerator, store it properly with these three steps:
- Keep fruits and vegetables intact until you are ready to use them. No need to separate broccoli spears or grapes; just keep them together until you're ready to wash and use them.
- Remove produce from plastic grocery bags and store loose or in perforated produce storage bags in the crisper drawers or on the counter in a fruit bowl or colander. Need more room to store your produce? Look for containers that allow proper air circulation and have a carbon filter.
- Place a damp paper towel in any produce bags if you need to add a little extra humidity. This works great for leafy vegetables, lettuces, and herbs.
How to Clean Produce
Clean produce is essential to keeping bacteria and pesticides away from you and your family. Follow these simple tips.
- Trim and cut off any ends. Trim away any bruised flesh and place in a clean colander.
- Rinse with cool water and spray with your favorite fruit and vegetable cleaner, or use a mixture of 3 parts water to one part white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Rinse the produce again and allow to dry, or dry with a paper towel.
- Cut into pieces and use as desired. If storing again after cutting and washing, make sure the produce is dry and in the proper place in your refrigerator. Keep it stored in an airtight container, and add a dry paper towel to absorb any excess moisture from washing.
With just a couple simple steps you can properly store your produce, keep it fresh longer, and clean it in a hurry. Here's to produce that stays crisp and fresh until you're ready to eat it!