It can happen to anyone—you buy fresh produce at the grocery store and leave it in the refrigerator only to find it a week later looking shriveled and rotten.
To avoid throwing away spoiled veggies and wasting time and money, it’s good to know where to store certain fruits and vegetables and which ones shouldn’t be stored together. Certain fruits for example give off ethylene gas, which can speed up the ripening process and make other produce items rot faster.
We tend to think we waste food because it ripens and rots faster than we can eat it, and while this can be the case if you don’t spend much time cooking, the real issue is taking the time to properly store perishable goods.
A big part of eating fresh, seasonal food is not just storing it the right way but at the right temperature. You can’t enjoy any fresh flavors if your fruits and veggies are rotting on the counter, so make sure your fall produce is stored in the fridge and remains fresh enough to enjoy.
What’s in Season?
It's always harvest season somewhere in the world, but the first step is figuring out what local produce is in season. Here are some of our most plentiful fall favorites that are at their tastiest over the next few months:
• Brussels Sprouts
• Sweet potatoes
Produce Storage Tips
When storing produce, your fridge’s crisper drawers will be a lifesaver (and flavor saver) when it comes to keeping your fall favorites fresh. Be sure to set one drawer to high humidity and the other to low humidity to better accommodate different types of produce.
In general, vegetables and leafy greens like brussels sprouts, broccoli, and arugula will be best preserved at a higher humidity; whereas, fruits like figs, pomegranates, and plums do better in a low-humidity environment. Every piece of produce has its specific needs, but sometimes all it takes is the look and feel test. If your avocados are starting to ripen and turn soft too quickly, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator. The cooler environment will help slow down the ripening process so you can enjoy your produce when you’re ready.
Determining whether to store your fruits and veggies in or out of the fridge is only half the battle. Remember that ethylene gas we mentioned earlier? Because of this natural gas that some fruits can emit, certain fruits and veggies should be separated no matter where they land. A good rule of thumb is to keep high-ethylene gas-emitting fruits apart from other produce. Apples, avocados, pears, bananas, and tomatoes are a few of the top offenders, with delicate leafy greens being some of the most susceptible to ethylene gas.
Also, remember to keep onions to themselves. On top of making you cry when you cut them, sliced onions are prone to share their fragrance with neighboring produce. The harsh fragrance can especially affect potatoes, causing them to spoil more quickly when onions are present.
Specific Food Items
Because different fall fruits and veggies have very different storage needs, let’s look at a few conditions that each food item will thrive in:
You probably have a fruit bowl in your kitchen—and keep apples out of it! If you want to enjoy the freshest flavor of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Fuji apples, store them in a plastic bag in your low-humidity crisper drawer. Just be sure there is an opening to keep gasses from being trapped.
Pears don’t keep nearly as long as apples once they ripen, so try to eat them soon after purchasing. If stored in the fridge in low humidity, you’ll get another week or two of crisp, tasty texture from your pears.
This fall staple will survive just fine at room temperature (unless you’ve already begun your carving), but it also has the ideal consistency for freezing. Roasted pumpkin that is sliced and diced can be stored in the freezer for months and makes a delicious seasonal side dish to go alongside any dinner.
You can never have too much garlic, especially a fresh clove. Garlic thrives in humidity and it can dry out if stored for too long at room temperature. Place your garlic bulbs in a crisper to retain the flavor and consistency. Once it’s removed from the fridge it will start to sprout, so be ready to roast your cloves with your next meal.
Store sliced fruit and veggies in an airtight container and refrigerate—sliced produce can last around 5 days after their initial cut. Whether sliced or left whole, it’s also a good idea to wash all your fruits and veggies before eating them. Germs and bacteria can cling to the surface of fruits and vegetables which can contaminate your cutting boards or eating surfaces. Most produce items will benefit from a quick hose down under the faucet.
Whether you’re preparing a fall feast or you just want to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies, with these tips in mind, you’ll have delicious produce all autumn long. Give us a call or visit us today to shop our selection of refrigeration appliances and make the most of your harvest bounty.