A lot can happen from the time produce is picked off the vine or pulled from the earth. Some fruits and veggies go to a packing house; others are cooled and transported an average of 1200 miles before reaching the consumer.
According to the folks at “Ideal Bite,” the average cost of food per American family jumped 36% between Jun. 2000 and May 2008, so every lil’ bit you can save helps. Since I know you are all shopping at your local farmers’ markets, here are some hints on how to preserve the freshness and nutritional values of your perishable produce:
Store at room temperature
- apples lemons pineapple
- bananas limes pomegranates
- grapefruit mangoes papayas
- watermelon persimmons basil (in vase with water – cut stems every other day)
- garlic dry onions potatoes (put in paper bag and keep in drawer – avoid light)
- tomatoes eggplant peppers
Ripen on counter first, then to refrigerator
- avocados nectarines pears
- kiwi peaches plums
- blueberries cherries strawberries (put in Tupperware with paper towel – do not wash first)
- apricots grapes figs
- raspberries blackberries artichokes
- green beans herbs Brussels sprouts
- carrots cabbage peas
- radishes corn spinach/lettuces (wash first, then store with holes in plastic bag)
- cauliflower celery leeks
- beets broccoli mushrooms (put in paper bag in produce drawer)
General: store fruits and vegetables separate. Some fruits let off the gas ethylene, which speeds ripening during the process.
Check out the Oliso Frisper Foodkeeper, a vacuum sealer for all types of food that uses reusable plastic bags.
I use Evert-Fresh reusable bags which truly have a lasting affect on the produce .
In order to maximize the nutrients you receive, it is best to consume your fresh (organic) produce within two days of purchase but these tips can help extend their life span. General rule of thumb is to wash all produce – even citrus – just before eating, with exceptions above.