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How to stop throwing out produce that's gone bad before you could eat it

Is there a word for that feeling you get when you throw out produce that’s gone bad before you could eat it? Veggie-guilt, maybe? Either way, it’s a crummy feeling, so we put together this post to help you avoid it.  Check out these helpful DOs and DON'Ts for keeping fruits, veggies, herb, and spices fresh for longer.

How to store produce to keep it fresh

DO – Store your produce dry

Keep in mind that a little humidity is a good thing for produce—but excessive moisture is essentially kryptonite. Some moisture will keep produce perky and firm; too much moisture can make it moldy or mushy. There are a few exceptions to this, though, such as:

  • Scallions: Store upright, roots-down, in water at room temp.
  • Asparagus: Trim the ends, set in a glass of water, and refrigerate until ready to use. 
  • Carrots: Put in a covered container of water to keep them firm.
  • Celery (halved stalks): Also can be kept fresh in a covered container of water. (TIP – Remember to change the water every 2-3 days.)

Store produce like asparagus properly to reduce food waste

DO – Swaddle your herbs 

Herbs tend to need a bit more TLC. If your herbs are dirty, wash them first. To dry, roll them up between two clean, dry dish towels. Next, bundle the dry herbs in a dry paper towel. Place the bundled herbs in a resealable plastic bag or a plastic container. (TIP: you can put multiple bundles of herbs in the same bag or container.)

DO – Transfer ripe fruit to the fridge

Achieving the perfectly ripened avocado or mango is a delicate balance. You probably know that you should leave fruit out at room temperature to accelerate the ripening process, but what if it’s getting close to ripe when you’re not quite ready to eat it? You can buy yourself another few days by popping near-ripe fruit in the fridge and hitting 'pause' on the ripening process. 

Store avocados at room temperature unless you want to slow the ripening process.

DON'T – Hide your produce in back of the crisper or fridge

"Outta sight, outta mind" comes into play here. Try not to jam that crisper full of fruits and veggies. Otherwise, when fridge cleanout day arrives, you'll be pulling out a bounty of spoiled produce you may not have even realized you had in the first place!

DON'T – Throw your garlic and onions in with other veggies

Garlic and onions need to be stored alone (and in a cool, dry, and dark place, not your fridge) and not thrown in with your potatoes or other veggies. Put them in their own container so that their scent (because they actually emit gas) doesn't contaminate your other produce. 

Store berries dry in the fridge

DON'T – Wash your berries before storing them in the fridge. 

While this may seem like a timesaver, you might be surprised. In reality, these delicate lil beauties hold quite a bit of moisture, and when you wash them before popping them in the fridge, you're actually increasing that moisture content. This can make berries mushy and overripe. So, the takeaway is: only wash (and then thoroughly dry) berries when you're about to eat them. 

 

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Tags: Cooking Tips
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Louise D. ( 2yr ) – I read about giving berries a vinegar & water soak for a few minutes then rinsing them off.
I’ve found this does work & they last a couple days longer instead of going bad so quick on me.
Louise

Swich C. ( 2yr ) – Thanks for the tip – that’s a good one!

Lisa M. ( 1yr ) – I was berries, let them dry completely then store in glass jars in fridge-last longer that way.

Barbara M. ( 1mo ) – I take my celery and lettuce and wrap them in aluminum foil, I have found this is the best way to keep them for a long time.

L H. ( 2yr ) – Thanks for the tip about storing carrots and celery!

Swich C. ( 2yr ) – You’re welcome!

Janice H. ( 4mo ) – I break apart my celery and wash it, then wrap it in a large piece of foil laid down with a piece of parchment paper over the foil. I fold it up tight and store it in the refrigerator crisper. It keeps for quite a long time that way.

Campbell L. ( 2yr ) – I loved all the tips, they helped me alot.

Ashley S. ( 2yr ) – We’re so happy you found this helpful :)

Marion M. ( 1yr ) – Great info! One tip I hear often is to notice how items are kept at the store (refrigerated or not) and follow that. I see now, with scallions, carrots, and celery, that this rule only goes so far. Thanks for clarifying!

Deb O. ( 2yr ) – I’ve been using mesh bags for veggies instead of the plastic , but when I’m storing them, they wilt so much faster. Any suggestions? Besides putting everything in water?

Lyn B. ( 2yr ) – Dawn and Joe, Thanks for the great tips, especially about berries. And thanks for this informative website that I love to share with people wanting to go plant based. Thanks!

Elizabeth J. ( 2yr ) – I’m terrible with buying strawberries and forgetting about them until it’s too late!

Deborah K. ( 2yr ) – A good reminder. Plus doing a check up of fresh produce regularly so you don’t forget to use 😉

Geraldine B. ( 1yr ) – Great tips, thank you! I’m forever throwing out fruit and vegetables, especially since we no longer have kids living at home. I’ve just invested in a product called a swag. I haven’t got it yet, but apparently they’re meant to great at keeping produce fresh for some time.

Janice H. ( 4mo ) – I have Swag produce bags and really lilke them.

Cortnee B. ( 1yr ) – Thank you! I was washing my berries before putting them in the fridge.

Victoria H. ( 4mo ) – Rinse berries with vinegar and water.
All berries naturally have fungi spores on them, which is why they get moldy so quickly. The vinegar actually eliminates some of those, where as normal water will actually “feed” them and cause them to reproduce and grow quicker.. it is recommended to dry the berries as much as possible (lay down some towels and very lightly sandwich the berries to absorb as much excess liquid as possible. Often times doing this twice is the best depending on the berries (berries that are prone to falling apart i “pat” dry once extremely lightly and then air dry on a mesh screen to promote airflow). And then once they are dry, putting them in an air tight glass jar and refrigerated usually yields the best results. Ive had strawberries and blueberries last 2+ weeks already.

Also herbs like parsley and cilantro do well with just the bottoms in water (like flowers in a vase) just be sure to change the water just like you would with flowers in your home, except these herbs are beat kept in a fridge and not colder then 40-41•F. Basil is very susceptible to turning black on the edges of the leaves once it becomes to cold.

Victoria H. ( 4mo ) – Also leafy greens like head of lettuce can be wrapped in a paper towel and then wrapped in foil. Not super tight. You want to promote a tiny bit of airflow and the paper towel will help control the humidity. You can check and rewrap every couple of days to further extend the shelf life. Just try to prevent freezing or the leaves are going to seem crisp until they begin to defrost and then you’ll have mush.

Cheryl W. ( 1yr ) – very helpful thanks

Nicole C. ( 11mo ) – Great tips, thank you.