Storing vegetables often requires an excessive amount of plastic. Not only does this create waste, it also puts your food in contact with toxic chemicals. On average, a Canadian household throws away a quarter of the produce they purchase. With a little care and planning in the way that you store your fruits and veggies, you can keep them fresh for longer. Less cost for you, and less waste for the environment!
Many factors affect the ripening process of produce—foremost are temperature and oxygen. Produce is heat-sensitive, so depending on the fruit or vegetable, the ripening process can be sped up or slowed down by heat. Additionally, the emission of ethylene gas by fruits and vegetables aids in the ripening process of other produce.
Here are eight tips to store your fruits and vegetables plastic free and keep them fresh and crunchy for longer.
- Remove all tight rubber bands or plastic bags immediately. These suffocate produce, so let your fruits and veggies breathe!
- Keep stems on fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and radishes. Because produce is still living and breathing, this helps keep them vibrant until you’re ready to eat them.
- Wash items the day you want to use them and not a moment before, unless you are storing the produce in water directly. Damp moisture and oxygen is a breeding ground for bacteria, mould, and decomposition.
- Put items that are near over ripe in a brown paper bag with an unripe banana. Bananas are able to draw the ethylene up, removing it from the ripening produce.
- Store vegetables in water, changing the water every so often, in a glass jar. This keeps the vegetables crunchy and fresh.
- Eat in order of how perishable an item is and plan your meals and snacks ahead. Don’t buy lots of blueberries, unless you plan to freeze them—they go off very quickly. Root vegetables and certain fruits such as small apples can last much longer, so buy those items in bulk .
- Wrap vegetables such as zucchini and broccoli in a damp towel. This method is less effective long term than submerging in cold water, so use this only if you plan to use the item within a week.
- Make sure you are using the most complimentary combinations of storage in your refrigerator and on your counter top. Here is a broken down list of how to organize produce in your kitchen.
Fridge: Drawer 1
Apples, Apricots, Cantaloupes, Figs and Honeydews
Fridge: Drawer 2
Bananas, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Kiwis, Leafy Greens, Parsley, Peas, Peppers, Summer Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Watermelons
Big Bowl on Counter Top
Avocados, Bananas, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Tomatoes
In the Cupboard
Garlic, Onions, Potatoes, Winter Squash