Today I’m excited to share my tried and true tips for getting your produce to last as long as possible! I know no one likes spending a ton of money on food, only to have it go bad before they get around to eating it.
Fortunately, these fruit and vegetable prep tips will help you prepare and store your food so you minimize waste, save money, and are more likely to eat healthy.
On the Counter
Bananas: Whenever I buy a bunch of bananas, I make sure to wrap the top in plastic wrap to make them last longer. You’ll see this sometimes at the grocery store—they do it to slow the ripening process! You can also slow the ripening process by placing bananas in the fridge. Although the peel will turn brown, the inside will ripen more slowly.
Avocados: I also like to place unripened fruit (like avocados) in the bowl with the bananas, since the bananas help speed up the ripening process for other fruits. Once the avocados reach the desired ripeness, I put them in the fridge to make them last a few more days. I keep both in a large bamboobowl.
Tomatoes: During the research on preserving produce, I learned its actually best to store tomatoes on the counter top, rather than the fridge. Storing them in the fridge can change the flavor and texture, so it’s best to leave them at room temperature on the counter.
In the Fridge
Berries: If you’ve been around awhile, you say that I did an experiment awhile ago for the best way to store berries and grapes. By far the best method was to soak the berries in vinegar (I like using a salad spinner), then rinse and pat them dry, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. I also like to add a paper towel at the bottom of the container, because standing moisture is the enemy when it comes to preserving berries!
Melon: I like to cut my watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew into bite-size pieces right when I bring it home from the store. Then I store it in a clear, airtight container for the family to snack on throughout the week.
Carrots and celery: In contrast to berries, carrots and celery actually last long if they’re stored in water. You’ll often see that there’s water in bags of baby carrots, and that’s because it keeps them from drying out. So I like to chop my carrots and celery, then store them in a container with water.
Lettuce: I like to store my lettuce chopped and ready to go into a salad. I make sure to wash and dry it really well in my salad spinner, then add a paper towel at the bottom to soak up any moisture. You can also wash and dry the whole head of lettuce, then store it for wraps, burgers, etc.
Herbs: Fresh herbs last the longest when stored in a glass jar with water at the bottom. I do this for fresh parsley, cilantro, rosemary, etc.
Asparagus: Like herbs, asparagus will last longer if stored in water. Chop off the tough ends first, then store in about one inch of water, until ready to use.
Bell pepper/other vegetables: I store bell pepper directly in the crisper drawer, with a towel lining the bottom to soak up moisture. I replace the towel occasionally to keep everything fresh and dry. Remember to keep vegetables separated from fruit to make it last longer!
Apples and citrus: Apples and citrus store well together and will last longest in the fridge. Of course, if you’re going to eat it quickly, you can place it on the counter. But if you want it to last for several weeks, wash and dry them, then store them in the crisper drawer on a dry towel.
In the Pantry
Potatoes and onions: Potatoes and onions do best when stored in a cool, dry place. They can last for weeks under these conditions. I always prefer to take them out of their bags and store in an open basket. But make sure to store your potatoes and onions separately, because when stored together, they can make each other ripen and go bad faster.
Why You’ll Love These Produce Tips
I will admit it certainly takes a little more effort to prepare and store your produce this way. But I think it’s completely worth it! Here’s why: Not only will these methods keep your food fresh longer, but they also make it more likely that your family will actually eat the foods.
My kids are SO much more likely to reach for the berries or carrot sticks when I’ve already washed and prepared them in clear containers that are easy to grab from the fridge. And if I notice we have a lot of apples or oranges, I just slice them up, set them on the table, and they’re guaranteed to disappear.
This method also saves time when you’re preparing snacks and meals later on in the week. You’ll have to prepare the foods at some point anyway, and with this method you can wash and prepare everything all at once. So it really can save you time in the long run!