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Storing Fresh Produce

“Spoiled Rotten – How to Store Fruits and Vegetables”

(Read this entire article online at the Vegetarian Times.)

If your produce rots after just a few days, consider:

Do I put cold-loving produce in frig ASAP?

Do I store in the wrong place?  Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

Do I check for partial spoilage (grapes, bagged fruit, veggies)? Toss any spoiled produce immediately.  One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch

Do I store incompatible fruits and veggies together? Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas, a ripening agent, will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate. Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed-ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana

Do I keep my produce whole?  “As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University, “you’ve broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow.”

The ABCs of Fresh

Use cold temperatures to slow food’s respiration, or ‘breathing’ process

But don’t stop the breathing altogether. “The worst thing to do is seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag,” according to Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University.

Know your gas releasers, those that give off ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables.

REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:

• Apples, Apricots, Canteloupe, Figs, Honeydew

DON’T REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RELEASERS:

• Avocados, Bananas, unripe, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears,• Plums,• Tomatoes

KEEP THESE AWAY FROM ALL GAS RELEASERS:

• Bananas, ripe, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts,• Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,• Cucumbers,• Eggplant, Lettuce and other leafy greens, Parsley,• Peas,• Peppers,• Squash,• Sweet potatoes, • Watermelon

MY NEW RULE: KEEP A BETTER EYE ON  those little critters in my crisper.

Watch for Innovations such as produce bags by Evert-Fresh and BioFresh, which both absorb ethylene and create an atmosphere that inhibits respiration. They may cost a little more, so weigh your benefits

Know when to purchase – LAST!         OR put a cooler in the car.

Eat more perishable items first.

Fastest to Slowest Spoilers: What to Eat First Marita Cantwell, PhD, postharvest specialist, UC Davis has created the following helpful list. I’ve based it on a Saturday shopping trip

EAT FIRST: Saturday to Monday

• Artichokes, •Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Basil, Broccoli, Cherries, Corn, Dill,  Green beans, Mushrooms, Mustard greens, Strawberries

EAT NEXT: Tuesday to Friday

• Arugula,• Cucumbers,• Eggplant,• Grapes,• Lettuce,• Lime,• Mesclun,• Pineapple, • Zucchini

EAT LAST: Weekend

• Apricots,• Bell peppers,• Blueberries,• Brussels sprouts,• Cauliflower,• Grapefruit,• Leeks,• Lemons,• Mint,• Oranges,• Oregano,• Parsley,• Peaches,• Pears,• Plums,• Spinach,• Tomatoes,• Watermelon,

AND BEYOND:

• Apples,• Beets,• Cabbage,• Carrots,• Celery,• Garlic,• Onions,• Potatoes,• Winter squash,

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