By Dawna Matthews
The bounty in my latest CSA delivery box was wonderful and itʼs not even deep spring yet. It was beautiful to see some of the seasonal changes, but I must admit I get lost when I unpack the box and see everything on the counter. Should I refrigerate the fruit or let it ripen on the counter? Should my herbs be chopped and stored or wrapped with a wet towel?
We have all been told to eat our fruits and vegetables for our health and vibrancy. Sometimes we end up throwing away more than we eat because we forget to eat something or itʼs already gone bad. The United States Environmental Protection Agency indicates that nearly 35 million tons of food is wasted every year. Some of this can be prevented by proper storage. Since fruits and vegetables will be more plentiful as we move close to summer, itʼs time for a quick refresher on storing your fresh vegetables and fruits.
Do not commingle: store fruits and vegetables separately. All fruits give off high levels of ethylene (an odorless, harmless, tasteless gas) and can speed up ripening and eventually spoil surrounding produce. Some, such as apples and bananas, produce a lot more than normal so it is important to keep them separate. For longer life, keep your fruits and vegetables whole; do not cut until ready to eat.
Keep vegetables and fruits in separate drawers (see above).
Keep produce in perforated bags (similar to the ones you may see in the store) so air may flow easily. Pack vegetables loosely in a single layer. Refrigerate bell peppers, citrus fruits, grapes, and berries, as they are sensitive and deteriorate rapidly.
For countertop storage:
Store out of direct sunlight. Store on the counter or in an uncovered bowl. Avocados, tomatoes, apples, pears and melons will ripen as they sit but are fine to store this way. Remember, bananas will ripen very quickly as well as speed up the ripening of other fruits nearby. Once ripe, place in refrigerator.
I treat them like flower bouquets: I place them in a glass of water and then into the refrigerator. I take a stalk out as needed.
Shop more frequently to ensure the freshest produce. Eat the most perishable item(s) first (for example, berries before citrus). Buy your produce last while in the store so it doesnʼt have time to sit out, breathe, and get warm or wilt.
Food is expensive, and we want to limit our waste of food and money. By trying these tips, we can also squeeze in all those delicious healthy food servings, too. Enjoy the beautiful, bountiful produce, and let us know of any food storage tips you may have.
Resources and Storage tips: