Fresh produce is delicious, nutritious, and, unfortunately, expensive. You may strive to bring home a variety of fruits and veggies. If so, you want to do everything you can to keep them vibrant, crunchy, and tasty as long as possible. You may wonder which items retain freshness longer if you store them in the refrigerator. Additionally, you may have heard that some fruits can cause other fruits to overripen prematurely. Conversely, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to speed the ripening process if a piece of fruit isn’t yet mature.
To keep apples crunchy and delicious as long as possible, store them in the refrigerator. However, apples are fruits that emit ethylene gas. The gas that they emit can hasten the aging of other fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to the ripening effects of this gas. Therefore, it is critical to keep them in separate areas of your refrigerator. If your fridge offers more than one crisper drawer, keep ethylene gas-emitting fruits in one bin and those sensitive to this gas in another compartment.
In general, avocados do well if you keep them right on your kitchen counter. If you have a ripe avocado, you can place it in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. Likewise, if you have a leftover portion of avocado, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. To hasten the ripening of an unripe avocado, place it in a paper bag along with a banana. The ethylene gas released by the banana and the avocado itself will be trapped in the paper bag and speed ripening.
Apples and bananas are both tasty treats. However, if you store them together, your bananas will quickly turn brown and mushy. If you don’t intend to use a bunch of bananas all at once, you can pop a couple of them in the refrigerator to slow ripening. Meanwhile, placing an unripe banana in a paper bag can speed ripening. When you find yourself with overly ripe bananas, don’t toss them out. Instead, bake up a batch of delicious banana muffins. If you don’t have time for baking, cut up the bananas and flash freeze them to add to smoothies.
Unfortunately, the pebbly surfaces of berries make ideal places for mold to grow. Since mold and bacteria thrive in moist environments, avoid washing berries until you are about to eat them. However, if you have a large quantity of these fruits, you may be able to keep them fresh longer by using a vinegar bath. To keep berries fresh for up to two weeks, Shari’s Berries advises soaking them in a vinegar and water mixture for around five minutes. This helps to kill off any germs on their surfaces. Then, rinse well, dry thoroughly, and refrigerate in an airtight container.
To keep celery fresh, cut off the ends and store the stalks in an airtight container of water. This keeps the celery from drying out and going limp. It also means you will have crisp stalks of celery on hand for slicing into soups, dipping into dressing, or slathering with nut butter. Asparagus also lasts longer when stored in water. Trim off the woody ends of asparagus and stand the stalks in a jar with a small amount of water. Place a plastic baggie over the top of the jar and use a rubber band to form an airtight seal.Related: Why Most Countries Don’t Refrigerate Eggs
Cucumbers are veggies that are especially susceptible to the ethylene gases given off by other types of produce. To keep your cucumbers fresh, store them on your countertop, away from your fruit basket. However, if you prefer the flavor of chilled cucumbers, store this vegetable in the refrigerator. Make sure to place it in a separate compartment, away from gas-producing fruits such as apples or pears. To use cucumbers from your garden, check out this tasty recipe for Easy Cucumber Salad. This recipe, from The Stay at Home Chef, calls for cucumbers, red onion, vinegar, sugar, and fresh dill.
6. Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs make flavorful additions to your recipes. Meseidy at The Pioneer Woman advises storing tender herbs such as parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill with their cut ends in a small amount of water in a covered mason jar in your refrigerator. Meanwhile, a mason jar bouquet of basil should be kept on your kitchen countertop at room temperature. Meseidy recommends wrapping firmer herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram in clean, damp paper towels and sealing them in plastic wrap. These herbs can then be stored in the refrigerator.
If you keep oranges on your countertop, place them in their own bowl, away from the ethylene gases of apples and bananas. The same goes for grapefruit, lemons, and limes. If you have a large supply of these fruits, you can keep them fresh longer by storing them in the refrigerator. Shelflife Advice states that most citrus fruits are good for four to five days at room temperature and up to three weeks in the refrigerator. However, tangerines spoil more quickly and should always be refrigerated. Store citrus fruits in mesh bags that allow circulation rather than in plastic bags.Related: 9 Tips for Getting a Long Life Out of Your Refrigerator
4. Root Vegetables
Carrots, potatoes, onions, and yams are root vegetables. These veggies retain freshness when stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Carrots do well in the refrigerator. However, potatoes and onions will last longer if stored away from the chilly, highly humid interior of your fridge. Harvest Right advises storing onions and potatoes in baskets or mesh bags that protect the veggies from light and humidity. Woven baskets, such as these from Gardener’s Supply Company, allow you to store potatoes and onions on your countertop while protecting them from light. Make sure to store onions and potatoes in separate baskets.
Pumpkins and squash can last one to three months at room temperature. Avoid placing these vegetables in the refrigerator, as the humidity can hasten spoiling. If you keep squash on your kitchen counter, place it well away from your bowl of apples or pears. This prevents the ethylene gases released by these fruits from causing your squash to decay.
2. Sweet Corn
Sweet corn tastes best when served fresh. If you are storing sweet corn for future use, avoid removing the husks until you are about to cook the corn. Cold air can cause your ears of corn to dry out more quickly. Therefore, you should avoid storing sweet corn in the coldest parts of the refrigerator. Keeping your sweet corn in the warmer, front section of your fridge may help keep it fresh longer. Plan to cook your sweet corn within one to three days of purchase. Allrecipes has a tasty recipe for Jamie’s Sweet and Easy Corn on the Cob.
Tomatoes ripen and taste the most flavorful at room temperature. Once they have fully ripened or are heading toward overripe status, you can store them in the refrigerator. Keeping a bowl of cherry tomatoes on your countertop means a tasty, healthy snack is always within reach. To speed up the ripening of green tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. Of course, if you have an abundance of green tomatoes, you can always try Allrecipes’ instructions for Best Fried Green Tomatoes.Related: How to Keep Milk at Its Freshest