Does this sound familiar? You bring home a bounty of fresh veggies and fruit from your favorite Sullivan Catskills Farmers Market. You’re in a hurry, so you put all your goodies in the fridge…but not all produce wants a cold welcome home! Take an extra 5 minutes to store smarter with these top 10 tips.
1. Fruit & veggies are frenemies
When it comes to healthy eating, vegetables and fruits are your good friends. But conflict arises when they’re stored together! Avoid storing them in the same drawer in your fridge. Many fruits give off ethylene gas as part of their natural ripening process – especially apples, berries, pears, peaches, and apples. Unfortunately ethylene gas also ripens vegetables as well as it does fruits. Solution? Just separate them into different drawers. And remember, many fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be stored in the fridge in the first place!
2. Like you, vegetables need to breathe!
If you are storing vegetables in a plastic bag, poke holes in the bags. Allowing air to circulate around the vegetables helps them store for longer. Also, don’t pack your veggie drawer too full. Proper space is required for proper air flow.
3. Cleaning your produce is good, but not right away
You shouldn’t clean fruit and vegetables you buy until right before eating (we make an exception for greens, see #7)! If you wash your fruits or veggies right away, then store them in the fridge, you’re actually causing them to spoil at a faster rate. This is because the wetness from the cleaning leads to increased bacteria growth. Make sure you don’t wash what you buy until you actually are going to use it.
4. Onion and garlic are good friends
You can leave onions and garlic next to each other. Both require adequate air flow, and both should have their papery husks left on them until they are going to be used. If you’re feeling like Martha Stewart, try this pro-tip for onions: Take some clean pantyhose and put your onions in them. Make sure to tie a knot between each onion, and then hang them on a coat hanger.
5. Potatoes are like teenagers, they like to be alone in the dark.
Keep your potatoes in a cool dark place. A pantry is a perfect spot for them, but never refrigerate them. When cold, potato starch turns into sugar. This process will affect their taste and texture when you cook and eat them. Potatoes don’t like onions or apples either! Both onions and apples release the previously mentioned ethylene gas. This can actually cause potatoes spuds to sprout.
6. Our opinion on tomato storage…stay away from the fridge
Some people say they need to be stem up, or stem down. We’ve overheard many friendly arguments between customers at farmers markets in Sullivan County over this! However, there’s not much proof to that claim. The best advice backed by science is that if you refrigerate tomatoes it will break down their internal cell structure, and make them mushy and mealy. It’s better to keep tomatoes out on the counter until ripe. Then you should use ‘em, or freeze them for cooking later.
7. Open the bag on your greens
When it comes to greens (i.e. lettuce, spinach, collard, mustard, swiss chard, and etc.) – wash them right away. Pat the leaves dry, and place them on a damp paper towel. Put them within a plastic bag that’s open on one end, and stick them in the fridge. This will help them stay nice and crisp for later use!
8. Don’t make those berries move out of their home!
Any berries you buy from a farmers market should be left in whatever container they came in to avoid bruising and squishing – this is especially true with delicate blueberries and raspberries. Just place the container in your fridge, then when you’re ready to use them – pull out the container and wash the amount you’re going to use.
9. Cherries like it cool
So, you visited your favorite farmers market in Sullivan County, grabbed some cherries and think they’re so beautiful you’ll leave them on the counter. Nope! Cherries should be stored in the fridge right away in a plastic bag with holes. Cherries do not like to sit out at room temperature for very long. The Grade A way to do cherry storage is to not take them out of the fridge unless you are going to use them right away.
10. Counter-intuitive apple storage!
You may want to put those apples in the fridge…but wait! Apples that are going to be eaten within a week can be left on the counter. For long term storage, it is recommended that they be placed in a plastic bag with holes poked in it and a damp paper towel placed on the apples. Then, put your apples in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Make sure they stay away from your vegetables though because apples release that pesky ethylene gas!
If we could add one more tip it would be this: buy your produce from farmers markets in Sullivan County! You’ll find it has been picked that morning, or just a few days before. Compare that to the fact that grocery store produce may have been picked up to 13 months ago! We’re not kidding!
Sources for Chart: http://www.ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1920.pdf