Whether your New Year’s Resolution was to start living healthier this year and you are just now getting used to a cart full of fruits and veggies at the grocery store. Or perhaps you constantly have a fridge stocked with them, we could all use these simple yet genius life hacks to keep our fresh produce fresh longer. After all, what’s worse than slicing an avocado just to see brown mush or wilted lettuce ruining your sandwich?
Mike Fenster, a Florida-based interventional cardiologist and trained chef, and Colin Dennis, president of the Institute of Food Technologies, have shared these tips and tricks to make that one trip to the grocery store last you all week. You are definitely going to want to write these down!
1. Arrange Asparagus Like Fresh-Cut Flowers
To keep asparagus fresh, you have to keep it alive. Fenster recommends this festive arrangement to keep your asparagus fresh longer. Make a diagonal cut across the ends and put them in a vase or glass with about an inch of water. Place the arrangement in the fridge. The refrigerator’s lower temperatures will prevent the asparagus from wilting. Add more water when you see that it is getting low!
2. Store Your Lettuce With a Dry Paper Towel
Once they are harvested, leaves immediately start to seep water. Naturally occurring bacteria and molds invade the plant to make it slimy, and it can quickly become inedible. To avoid this, Fenster suggests you wash your lettuce as soon as you get home and dry it in a salad spinner. Store the dried leaves in a plastic bag or another air-tight container, along with a dry paper towel to soak up moisture. When the paper towel becomes too wet, trade it out for another one.
3. Keep Basil Out of the Refrigerator
Most fresh herbs love the climate of your fridge, but not basil! Basil turns black and wilts in low temperatures. Instead, keep basil on your countertop with the stems in a cup of water, or wrapped in a wet paper towel.
4. Coat Cut Avocados and Apples in Lemon or Lime Juice
Once you cut into an avocado or an apple, they begin to brown within minutes. When you cut them, you expose the inside of the fruit to oxygen, releasing enzymes that speed up the rate by which the fruit negatively reacts to the oxygen. Citric acid is naturally found in lemons and limes, and it can inactivate those enzymes to slow down browning. Dennis says to squirt or brush lemon or lime juice on sliced avocados and apples before storing them in an airtight container or a plastic wrap.
5. Keep Bananas Bunched in the Refrigerator
Even if you buy bananas when they are green, they always seem to ripen before you can get through the bunch. “At a certain stage of development, bananas experience a surge in their production of ethylene — the natural ripening hormone,” Dennis explains. Once that happens, they move quickly from not quite ripe to overripe. Make sure not to separate a banana from the bunch until you are ready to eat it, to reduce the chances of it spoiling early. Storing your bananas in the fridge will keep them fresh longer, but it will cause the skins to darken more quickly.
6. Set Tomatoes on the Top Shelf of the Refrigerator
Tomatoes ripen quickly when left at room temperature, but putting them in the fridge will cause them to crystallize due to their high water content. So where’s the best place for them? Fenster says the top shelf of the refrigerator, in the closest spot to the door, is slightly warmer than most other areas, making it a good spot for tomatoes. If you happen to have a wine cellar, that is also a perfect place to store tomatoes!
7. Keep Berries Out of the Crisper
“Unlike other fruits and vegetables, avoiding the crisper is the proper strategy with berries,” Fenster says. “The crisper is more humid and has lower air circulation compared to the rest of the refrigerator.” He also recommends not rinsing blackberries and raspberries in water prior to storage. “Once water gets into those little nooks and crannies, you will never get it completely out,” he said.
8. Put Potatoes in a Brown Paper Bag
“When potato tubers are exposed to too much light, they start to get a greenish tinge to them … This cannot only affect the taste, but it can make you ill,” Fenster says. To keep potatoes out of the light and reduce excess moisture, keep them in a brown paper bag in a cool environment, like on the top step of a basement. Don’t put them in the refrigerator – it is too cold and can turn the starch in the potatoes into sugar!
As your fruits and vegetables decay, the nutrients slowly deplete. “When produce starts to spoil, it is actually undergoing the natural cycle of life, death, and decay,” Fenster explains. Another great way to keep your produce fresh, maximize its nutrients and reduce waste is BerryBreeze. This fridge freshener releases activated oxygen on a timer, neutralizing bacteria, mold and other microbes by inhibiting the ethylene gas given off by fruits and vegetables that triggers decay. They keep food fresh and odor-free for 2-3x longer than normal!
To keep your produce as nutritious and delicious as it should be, be sure to follow these easy tips and tricks! For a few more food hacks, check out the video below.