Let’s start with a basic fact: not all fresh produce belongs in the refrigerator. You’ve gone through the trouble of committing to those fresh greens, don’t sabotage them with improper storage. I seriously used to waste hundred of dollars on produce – partly because my cooking confidence was low, but also because I just threw everything in the refrigerator without any consideration for how to keep it.
I’m gonna give you some guidelines for produce storage based on which items produce the high amounts of ethylene gas (which ripens foods) and those items that are particularly susceptible to it. You may already be familiar with some of these tips, but I guarantee there will be some surprises for you.
1) If it’s not yet ripe, don’t refrigerate it.
Those avocados, peaches, or tomatoes that are still a bit firm should not go into the fridge just yet. Refrigeration will slow down their ripening. More on ways to ripen foods without them going mushy in the center below.
2) Leave stems in tact.
The cavity created from removing the stem is an entry point for microorganisms. Keep it sealed until you’re ready for use to prevent bacteria that will cause your food to rot or decay sooner.
3) Keep the gas-releasers away from the sensitive ones.
Refrigerate these gassy foods
Do NOT refrigerate these gassy foods
Keep gassy foods away from these sensitive ones
(all leafy green veggies)
4) Tools and techniques that also work
These containers work well because they allows moisture to drain away from the produce and you can adjust the airflow on them to suit the particular items you’re storing. They work like the crisper in your fridge, just smaller and more intuitive.
Debbie Myers Green Bags
Supposedly, these bags keep produce fresh by absorbing the ethylene gas. I know people who swear by them. I suspect that using the storage tips above and keeping those gods susceptible to ethylene gas away from the gas releasers is enough. Consumer reports tested these bags and found that they weren’t any more effective than not using them.
Bowl of Water
I thought my husband was just a lil cookoo when he started putting produce in water, but it works! Putting the roots or bottom stems of vegetables in a bowl of water also keeps them fresh and vibrant. Just make sure to rinse and change the water every few days. We’ve had success at keeping dark, leafy greens, carrots, scallions and broccoli fresh for over a week this way. Ideally they should be eaten within the week, but this buys you time.