If you’re anything like me, you attack the produce aisles at the supermarket with unbridled enthusiasm every week, imagining yourself all Nigella-like, surrounded by colours and aromas as you masterfully pull together brilliant fresh and healthy meals that your (fictional) grateful children hoover up with gusto.
And then, if you’re like me, spend the next couple of days patting yourself on the back for being so impressively healthy while eating chips on the couch. (What? You’ve earned them!) Then by the time you remember you actually need to eat them to have any real impact, the celery has wilted, the carrots can weirdly bend in half, and the herbs have turned into some kind of rancid smoothie.
But there are ways you can store your fresh fruit and veggies to ensure they last longer. So by the time you’ve got your energy up to eat all those delicious vitamin bombs, they’ll still welcome you with open arms.
Try these tips and keep your fruit and veggies fresher for longer.
1. Don’t wash anything until you’re ready to use it. Washing can remove protective coating and invite mould and rotting. Ew.
2. Use paper towel in the bottom of your crisper drawer. It will absorb moisture to keep mould at bay.
3. Store your produce in the warmest part of the fridge. Too cold and they’ll lose their delicious aromas and freshness. They need to be chilled but not too much.
4. Ripen your avocado by keeping it in a brown paper bag or wrapping it in newspaper. Keep it at room temperature until it’s ripe, and then store in a zip lock bag in the fridge.
5. Don’t put anything in the fridge until it’s ripe. Otherwise it will never ripen. And tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums should never be stored in the fridge because they tend to go slimy. Keep them at room temperature instead.
6. Store your grapes in a polyethylene bag. I always thought the supermarket just packaged up grapes like that so we’d have to buy an enormous bunch, when we really only wanted a few. That’s probably also true, but those bags will help your grapes stay fresh for longer. The trick though, is to separate them into a few bags so that the weight of the large bunch doesn’t crush the grapes at the bottom. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap if it feels wrong to steal extra grape bags from your local produce section.
7. Keep bananas at room temperature, but arrest the ripening process by wrapping their stems in plastic wrap. They will stay just right for much longer.
8. Slice or peel your carrots and cucumbers in advance and keep them in a container of water in the fridge. They’ll last for ages, and they’re ready to go whenever you are.
9. Know which fruit and veg to keep separate. Bananas, apricots, melons, pears, plums, mangoes and tomatoes emit a chemical called ethylene when they’re ripe. Other fruit and veg are sensitive to ethylene and will ripen at an accelerated rate if placed close to these fruits. They include apples, eggplant, watermelons, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, and broccoli. Like the Montagues and the Capulets, they can’t be reasoned with – it’s best just to keep them separate.
10. Don’t store your onions and potatoes together. Potatoes will cause your onions to sprout, making them inedible.
11. Keep your garlic and onions in the dark. If you don’t have a cupboard or drawer that is suitable, you can put them in paper bags with holes punched in them for ventilation and keep them on your benchtop.
12. Potatoes kept in sunlight can turn poisonous. Keep them well ventilated in a basket or wooden box, and keep them out of direct sunlight if you want to avoid rot. A couple of apples thrown in will keep your potatoes fresh for longer.
13. Keep your asparagus as you would a bunch of flowers. You don’t need to use Grandma’s best vase and place them on the grand piano, but stand them up in a glass of water to keep them fresh. (Be sure to remove the elastic band if they come in one.)
14. Keep your room temperature vegetables well ventilated. That means storing them in a basket or box with a good flow of air, and keep them out of the cupboard where the air flow can be a bit slow.
15. Wrap your celery in foil to keep it fresh and flavourful for longer. Store it in plastic and it will lose its delicious peppery taste.
16. Store your tomatoes with the stalk facing up. Okay, I know it sounds like we’re getting picky now, but the stalk (or the area where the stalk was, if it’s gone) is where decay begins, so keep it facing up so it’s clean and dry. Your tomatoes will last longer.