With the rising cost of fresh foods, there’s no question that many are searching for ways to get bang for buck when doing the weekly food shop. When it comes to fruits and veggies, eating seasonally is one such way to ensure you are maximising nutritionally & economically as typically foods will have travelled and been stored for less time and so not only will you incur less costs in transportation you’ll retain freshness and have minimal nutrient loss over time. Learn how to best store fruits and veggies for maximum value, freshness and nutrition.
Optimising storage once you get your fruits and veggies home is key. It’s down to what you do with them that determines how long they will last. You will reduce waste and time in heading back to the shops if you follow a few simple tips.
1. Keep moisture exposure to a minimum
Excessive moisture can cause fresh foods to spoil. Vegetables such as leafy greens naturally start to give off water after a short period of time, so by adding paper towel into the bottom of your crisper or using a cloth vegetable bag to soak up any extra water you will remove excess liquid and keep greens fresher for longer.
2. Avoid oxidation
Some fruits such as apples, pears, banana and peaches will turn brown once they are cut open. Using acidic juice can help foods retain their colour and stop them from turn brown. By simply squeezing lemon juice over sliced fruits you protect them from the air and oxidation. Once you are ready to eat, you can simply run the fruit under fresh water (with the exception of the banana) if you don’t like the lemon taste!
3. Keep veg hydrated
We know that water can spoil some vegetables but others need water to stay fresh! Carrots and celery will start to dry up if pre cut and left out, by placing in a container of water within the fridge this will stop them from going limp, retain moisture content and overall freshness. Try rinsing berries in a mixture of 1 part vinegar : 3 parts water to prevent them going soft and squishy. After this rinse, you just need to do another rinse with water only to remove the vinegar taste. Not only will this retain freshness and texture but will also wash off any pesticides used on the fruits. Then you can remove excess water and store in the fridge.
4. Store food separately
As they ripen, some fruits including stone fruits and pears give off gases, such as ethylene. These gases can cause other foods to spoil faster than they normally would. Cucumbers, raspberries, and strawberries can all be affected by the gases and ripen too fast. It’s a good idea to seperate these gas releasing foods either on a seperate shelf or crisper drawer.
5. Get the temperature right
Temperature absolutely matters. Different foods do best at different temperatures but its safe to say that most fruits and veggies do best in the refrigerator. Your refrigerator should be between 3- 5 C or 37- 41F and a crisper is their preferred position. The crisper not only helps to keep temperature stable but reduces moisture loss from those foods more likely to dry out and slows down the release of water from the leafy veg such as lettuce. Not all fruits and vegetables need to go in the fridge. Under ripe bananas, tomatoes and avocados will do better and ripe nicely in the fruit bowl on the kitchen bench at room temperature. Tomatoes will actually loose taste and nutrients if stored in the fridge.
6. Purchase fruits and veggies that are yet to ripen
When doing the weekly shop, you don’t necessarily need to buy all foods ready for eating. Avocados, kiwis, peaches, pears and tomatoes all continue to ripen after they’ve been picked. By purchasing these foods while they are still a little green and/or firm they will ripe as the week goes on and you’ll still have fresh produce once the ripe items have all been eaten.
Freezing is another great option for storing fruits and veggies especially for using in smoothies and baking. Freezing can sometimes change the texture of the foods but mostly nutrients are preserved and taste remains the same. It’s best to avoid freezing unripe fruits as this may interrupt the ripening process and leafy such as lettuce will not be any good for salad once thawed – best to pop in a green smoothie instead!
We know many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function optimally come from fruits and vegetables and that these nutritious food are at their peak, when they are fresh and that’s why storage is so important. Its always a good idea to store fruits and veggies separately from dairy products and raw meats to avoid contamination. So by following these handy hints you’ll not only keep your produce for longer but you’ll save yourself time at the shops and ultimately money.
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