how-to

How To Take Care of Your Produce

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. It’s Sunday and you’re getting ready to go grocery shopping. But before you go get new stuff to put in the fridge, you need to take the old stuff out to make room. Principally, this right here should be a red flag but let’s continue anyway.

You get into your fridge and there’s that pack of mushrooms that’s still three-fourths full but nearly rotten. Trash. And there’s that half of a zucchini you planned to make a stir-fry with. But stir-fry is doomed because the end is mushy and moldy. Trash. Oh, and there’s those peaches you couldn’t wait to take to work for breakfast but completely forgot about and are now brown and nearly liquid to the touch. Trash, once again.

As sad as it is, we humans have a serious food waste problem. In fact, according to Feeding America, America in its entirety wastes 576 BILLION pounds of food each year. They estimate that that is “nearly half of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S.” We are thrashing food that is almost always still edible at such a rate that 21% of our landfill volume is food. This should scare you.

People need to start making a better effort to portion their food, take only what they’re going to eat, and buy only what they’re going to use. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, we also need to learn how to make our food last. Letting your produce rot because you’re too lazy to store it properly is just as bad as taking food you know you’re just going to throw in the trash. Luckily, in an attempt to eat better, I have recently become a pro at storing produce. Check out the list below to familiarize yourself for your next grocery store visit and take a step towards reducing our world’s food waste.

FRUITS

Apples

How to store: in refrigerator crisper drawer and always store bruised/soft apples separately from other apples
Shelf life: 1-3 weeks

Avocados

How to store: in refrigerator to slow down ripening process, then place on counter to finish ripening before consumer
Shelf life: 
up to a week in the refrigerator; 2 days on the counter

Bananas

How to store: on countertop away from all other produce
Shelf life: 
up to 5 days

Blackberries & Raspberries

How to store: unwashed in a single layer on a plate covered loosely and placed in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
3 or 4 days

Blueberries

How to store: keep in store container in refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to a week

Cantaloupe

How to store: in refrigerator; whole can be left alone but cut up pieces should be kept in a closed container
Shelf life: 
whole, up to 5 days; cut up, up to 3 days

Cherries

How to store: unwashed in plastic bag stored in refrigerator; store ASAP after buying them
Shelf life: 
around a week

Dates

How to store: in a well-sealed container in either the refrigerator or a cool cupboard
Shelf life: 
around a year

Figs

How to store: on the counter in you’re planning to eat them within a few days, but refrigerate them after that
Shelf life: 
around a week

Grapes

How to store: in a paper bag or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to two weeks

Grapefruits

How to store: on the counter if you plan to eat it within a week; refrigerate otherwise
Shelf life: 
up to 3 weeks (when refrigerated)

Kiwis

How to store: keep on the countertop until ripe, then store freely in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
2-3 weeks

Lemons & Limes

How to store: in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 4 weeks

Mangoes

How to store: at room temperature until ripe, then place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to a week

Oranges

How to store: in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
between 3 and 4 weeks

Peaches

How to store: keep at room temperature until soft and emitting sweet smell, then place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator 
Shelf life: 
up to five days after ripe

Pears

How to store: at room temperature on the countertop
Shelf life: 
up to 12 days

Pineapples

How to store: whole pineapples can stand freely on the counter for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; cut pineapple should be kept in a bowl or plastic tuberware container loosely covered with plastic wrap
Shelf life: 
up to 5 days cut

Plums

How to store: let ripen on the counter for 2 – 3 days, then place in a plastic bag in refrigerator
Shelf life: 
5 days in the refrigerator

Pomegranates

How to store: in a cool, dark place preferably in a paper bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 2 months

Tomatoes

How to store: on a plate at room temperature
Shelf life: 
up to 3 days once they’re ripe

Watermelons

How to store: in a cool, dark place for up to 4 days, then store cut watermelon pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 4 days

 

VEGGIES

Artichokes

How to store: store freely in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 1 week

Asparagus

How to store: keep the rubber band on, trim off about an inch of the stalk end, stand bundle in a glass of water containing between an inch and two inches of water, cover loosely with a plastic bag, and place in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 1 week as long as the water is always clean

Bell Peppers

How to store: as dry as possible in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator
Shelf life:
red and yellow, up to five days; green, around 1 week

Broccoli

How to store: in the refrigerator away from produce that give off ethylene
Shelf life: around 3 – 4 weeks

Brussel Sprouts

How to store: take the sprouts off the stalk but leave the outer leaves on, then put them in an uncovered bowl and place in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
several weeks

Cabbage

How to store: keep whole and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 1 week

Carrots

How to store: cut off the greens and store them separately if you plan to use them; put orange parts in a covered container of water
Shelf life: 
2-3 weeks

Cauliflower

How to store: in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
about 1 week

Celery

How to store: wrap the stalks in aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
around 2 weeks

Cucumbers

How to store: at room temperature and far away from bananas, tomatoes, and melons (which emit high levels of ethylene — a natural gas that makes cucumbers spoil faster than they should)
Shelf life: 
whole, about 1 week; sliced, 2 – 3 days

Fresh Greens / Lettuce

How to store: rinse and place layers on a clean towel, roll up the towel, secure the ends of the towel roll with rubber bands, and store on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator; this tactic keeps the leaves moist but not damp which ensure crispiness
Shelf life: 
up to a week

Eggplants

How to store: at room temperature away from direct sunlight and produce that emit ethylene
Shelf life: 
use ASAP after buying

Garlic

How to store: whole head should be kept in dry and dark place; peeled cloves should be kept in airtight container in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
whole head, a few months; peeled cloves, a few days

Green Beans

How to store: unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 1 week

Kale

How to store: raw in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to a week

Mushrooms

How to store: plastic-wrapped from the store stay good for a week before being opened but should be re-wrapped with plastic wrap with a few holes poked after being opened; wild mushrooms should be kept in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
about a week

Onions

How to store: in an open container on the countertop
Shelf life: 
around 2 weeks

Potatoes

How to store: in a cool, dark place but make sure they’re dry when you store them
Shelf life: 
several months

Radishes

How to store: unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: up to 2 weeks

Snow Peas

How to store: unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 4 days

Spinach Bunch

How to store: raw and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 3 days

Sugar Snap Peas

How to store: unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
up to 5 days

Summer Squash

How to store: unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator
Shelf life: 
3 – 5 days

Winter Squash

How to store: whole should be stored freely in the pantry and in the refrigerator if it’s cut up and/or cooked
Shelf life: 
3 months whole in the pantry; 1 week cut and/or cooked in the refrigerator

 

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