Maintaining a healthy diet means a fridge full of fresh fruits, and veggies, but it can be easy to toss them in the bottom drawers and just forget about it only to find these foods have gone bad before you could even use them. Looking for a way to store fresh produce that helps keep it fresh? There are more than a few ways to store your goodies, but there are also ways to store fresh produce that can extend the life of your favorites.
Here is a list of foods to refrigerate, along with a list of foods that are best kept in a cool pantry, or at room temperature.
A good rule of thumb: If fruits, herbs or veggies are located in the open cooler section of the grocery store, then store them in the refrigerator. There is typically specified draws in the refrigerator for this type of produce. Otherwise, keep them in a cool, dark place in the kitchen. The pantry is usually a good storage place.
Refrigerate: Beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, ginger, jalapenos, leafy greens, mushrooms and zucchini.
Leave Unrefrigerated: Apples, Avocados, apricots, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, garlic, kiwi, melons, nectarines, onions, pears, peaches, plums, pineapple, potatoes and tomatoes.
A few more tips for storing produce:
- All cut, peeled or cooked vegetables or fruits should be stored in clean, covered containers in the refrigerator at 40° F or less.
- If you wash produce before storage, be sure to thoroughly dry fruits and vegetables with a clean paper towel.
- Never wash berries until you are ready to eat them.
- Keep your refrigerator fruit and vegetable bin clean.
- Store fresh produce in plastic bags or containers to minimize the chance of contamination of other foods in the refrigerator.
Storing fresh fruits and vegetables requires different storage methods, and different foods can be stored for various lengths of time. Garden to table eating requires all storage areas to be clean, and dry. If your refrigerator has a produce bin, be sure to use it in order to keep all your fresh produce away from any raw meat, poultry or fish. Some foods last longer if you do not wash them before storage, but remember that if you bring in garden dirt on the produce it may contain pathogenic microorganisms that will end up in your kitchen.
Herbs are also great to have at all times, but they can turn into a wilted mess faster than you can say basil. To keep your herbs fresh longer, treat them like any other plant. When you get them home from the store, take cilantro, parsley and your other favorites out of the packaging, cut off about 1-2 inches of the stems and place them in a glass of water. Try this with onions, but do not cut off the ends, just place them in water to extend the freshness, and shelf life. You can also freeze some herbs to take advantages of sales, and to ensure you have enough of whatever you need at any time. Since we use them frequently, you can keep herbs fresh by washing, and chopping single herbs or a blend, and placing them in a sandwich sized zip-locked baggie. Fill it with just enough water to cover the herbs to keep the herbs green and fresh looking, and keep out unwanted air. It’s a time and money saver and you can just drop these frozen blocks into soups, sauces or any of your favorite SkinnyMs. Slow Cooker Recipes like this Jazzy Pork Tenderloin.
Get out to your local Farmers Market and pick up all the fresh tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage, fresh herbs and anything else you want. Follow these tips to help keep your favs fresh and delicious!