The Expert’s Guide to Storing Fruits & Vegetables

Ordering fresh produce can be hard, and utilizing the space in a small kitchen even harder. We’re here to give you some tips on how to effectively store your fruits and vegetables to maximize their freshness.

Quick Tips

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~ Be sure to handle your produce with care to preserve its full flavour, colour, freshness, and nutrition.

~ If you’re not going to use your produce right away or all at once, write the purchase or ‘use by’ date on the packaging, or on a piece of tape on the container. That way you’ll know exactly how long you’ve had it.

~ Produce being stored at room temperature should be removed from its packaging and left loose, unless ripening is to be encouraged.

 

Ripening

Some fruits such as apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, bananas, avocados, and many tropical fruits will continue to ripen after being picked. In some cases, they are purposely picked younger than one would eat for shipping purposes, due to weather or seasonal changes.

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Many fruits give off a compound known as ethylene gas, a fast-ripening agent, and can either be classified as ‘ethylene-producing’ or ‘ethylene-sensitive’.

  • These ethylene-producing fruits, when placed together in a paper bag or dark place and left at room temperature, will rapidly ripen immature produce.

  • In contrast, if placed near an ‘ethylene-sensitive’ fruit, they can become spotted, soft, or mealy.

  • Keep your ethylene-sensitive produce fresh by storing together or alone, and use ethylene-producing fruits to ripen young produce!

View this quick guide to tell them apart:

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Ethylene-Producing:

  • Apricots

  • Avocados

  • Bananas

  • Cantaloupes

  • Honeydew melons

  • Kiwis

  • Mangoes

  • Nectarines

  • Papayas

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Plums

  • Tomatoes

 

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Ethylene-Sensitive:

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Cucumbers

  • Eggplants

  • Green beans

  • Lettuce and other greens

  • Potatoes

  • Summer squash

  • Watermelons

 

Storing

Most produce should be stored unwashed and in its original packaging until use, as moisture encourages bacterial growth, speeding up the decay process.

Here are some common ways to store refrigerated produce that did not come packaged:

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  • A perforated plastic bag

  • A resealable plastic bag left slightly open (this preserves moisture while allowing air to circulate keeping it fresher, longer)

  • A food-safe reusable cloth bag

  • A food-safe reusable beeswax paper

  • An open glass or ceramic container

*For items you’ve peeled or cut, wrap in plastic or place in an airtight container within 2 hours.

 

Tell us in the comments: What’s the quickest you’ve ripened a fruit?

We put a green banana in a paper bag with an apple, and within 12 hours it was yellow!

Sources:

  1. “Avoid Premature Spoiling of Fruits and Vegetables.” Real Simple, www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/avoid-premature-spoiling-fruits-vegetables.

  2. “How to Store Fruits and Vegetables.” Real Simple, www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/more-shopping-storing/how-to-store-vegetables.

  3. Fresh Produce Guide . IN Marketing Services, 2015.