This post is by Bernie Carr,
Now that we are all trying to maintain social distancing, we are also trying to avoid taking too many trips to the grocery store. Making your fresh vegetables and fruits last longer helps you save money, avoid waste, and helps you extend the time between trips to the store.
Clean and declutter your fridge
Although it sounds unrelated to saving fruits and vegetables, cleaning your fridge helps keep everything fresh because you’ll get rid of mold spores and bacteria that cause spoilage.
Too much clutter in your refrigerator will cause poor air circulation, rendering your fridge inefficient in maintaining the proper temperature. This brings me to my next point…
Maintain the proper temperature
According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, keep your fridge between 34-40°F and freezer at 0°F or below to slow the growth of microbes that cause spoilage and illness.
Keep them whole
Avoid cutting your fruits and vegetables until you are ready to use them.
Monitor for spoilage
One rotten apple grouped with other apples will spoil the whole bunch. I have noticed the same thing applies to other fruits such as lemons, berries, etc. Once one gets rotten or moldy, the surrounding fruits are affected. Check your produce bin once a week for spoilage.
Use paper towels
I have found that wrapping some vegetables and herbs in paper towels keeps moisture at bay and helps make them last longer. This works well for lettuce and other leafy vegetables, as well as herbs.
Other vegetables such as celery and broccoli do well when wrapped in aluminum foil in the vegetable crisper.
- Store onions in the pantry, not the fridge. Go one step further and store onions in an old pair of pantyhose with a knot between each onion. Hang in the pantry or cellar.
- Garlic should also be stored in the pantry, not the fridge. Store them in a mesh bag or a paper bag.
- Store peeled ginger in the freezer. When you need it for a recipe, simply grate the ginger.
- Bananas will last longer on the counter if you separate each banana from the bunch, and wrap the stem in plastic wrap.
Herbs don’t last very long so many cooks swear by this herb preserver that helps them last for several weeks.
I’ve had good results regrowing some herbs such as green onion and vegetables (celery) from the root portion that normally would have thrown away. (Sample photos of what I recently re-grew over in my Patreon page.)
You don’t need a food dehydrator to dry herbs. Secure with a rubber band and hang on a hook, or just separate them on paper towels and place in a cool, dry area such as the top of the fridge. They will dry within a week, depending on your climate. Once dry, crumble them up and store in an empty repurposed spice bottle.
If you’d like to see sample photos of what I have been doing lately, head over to my Patreon page.
Freeze overripe bananas and use to make banana bread later. You can also try freezing berries, peaches, cut pineapple and use for smoothies later.
Citrus fruit peels are versatile and have lots of uses besides cooking and eating. Don’t toss them out, find other uses for citrus peels.
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