The Family Home Blog

How to Make Your Fruits and Vegetables Last Longer

Jun 10, 2016
Diane Hoffmaster

One of the most wonderful things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. During the warm months of spring and summer, produce prices begin to drop and the variety of fruits and vegetables available increases dramatically. With the low prices and increased availability, shoppers often load their grocery carts with significantly more produce than they do in the winter.

However, once those fruits and vegetables get home they often spoil much faster than they can be eaten. This is not only a waste of money, but it also increases our trash output significantly, even if you compost the rotten produce. If you want your fruits and vegetables to last longer, here are a few tips that might help.

vegetable section of store 

1.  Buy as local as possible. Produce that is grown close to home spends less time traveling and is therefore usually fresher when you buy it. Fresher produce will last longer once it gets home.

2.  Don't refrigerate all of it. Some things store better outside of the refrigerator. Keep potatoes, onions and tomatoes in a cool, dry place, but not in the fridge. The cold will ruin their flavor and make them spoil faster.

3.  Wait to wash. Avoid washing berries until right before you're ready to eat them. Wetness encourages mold growth.

4.  Store unripe fruit at room temperature until it ripens. Many fruits are picked before they are ripe so that they ship without bruising. Pears, peaches, plums, kiwis, mangoes, apricots, avocados, melons, and bananas can be stored on the counter until they are ripe. Once they're ripe, move them to the refrigerator. Bananas will darken in color but will stay fresher longer when chilled.

5. Citrus will last for up to a week in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight. For longer storage, put them in the fridge.

6.  Store salad greens and fresh herbs in bags filled with a little air and sealed tightly. Large Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags work great for this. Rinse the herbs or greens, shake out most of the water, and place in a bag. Sometimes I also like to include a piece of folded paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Seal the bag, leaving a bit of air still inside.

7. Prepping ahead tip. If you like to wash, dry, and cut up your produce all at once, store it in large rectangle Ziploc® Brand Container lined with paper towels. This will help keep moisture from building up and will also make it easier to grab and eat when you are in a hurry.

8. Shop smart. It's tempting to overbuy when things look so delicious, but buy only what you need. Go to the store more frequently, or create a meal plan so you only buy what you know you'll use.

Do you have any other tips for making produce last longer?

Photo courtesy of Diane Hoffmaster.

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