We’re in fruit and veggie mode around here. You are too, right? I mean, I’m just assuming that while you’re reading this, you’ve got a slice of pear hanging out of your mouth. That’s what I thought. Okay, let’s continue.
As I’m encouraging you to always have a great supply of fruits and vegetables on hand to eat and serve, many of you are asking questions about how to store them to keep them fresh. I’ll share what I do, then everyone leave a comment to share what works best for you, too!
1. Eat them.
First, I want to say that once you fill your cart and get home with loads of fruits and veggies, don’t hold back on eating them. The surest way for produce to go bad is for it to get stuffed into the back corner of the fridge and forgotten. Chow down. Don’t hold back. Ration if you must, but make eating this good stuff a priority.
2. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to eat it.
While there are some exceptions that I’ll share below, this is particularly important with berries and lettuce. As soon as I wash raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries – the countdown to mold and squish begins. I try to only wash what we will eat for that particular meal or snack. If we don’t eat all of the berries I’ve washed, I get them back out for the next meal or snack so that we can finish them off quickly.
Lettuce is best washed and prepared immediately before serving. Don’t want to spend much time making salads before a meal? Do what I do and let everybody tear their own lettuce while fixing a plate for dinner. It’s fun, easy, fresh, and crispy.
3. When you come home from the store with a variety of produce, serve the most delicate fruits and vegetables first.
Apples, oranges, and pears will stay good for several days if not weeks. I always set out our supply of berries, peaches, and grapes first – saving our apples, pineapple, clementines, and the like until later in the week when the rest is gone.
4. The refrigerator is your friend.
While apples, pears, oranges, and kiwi will be fine for a while on the countertop or table, refrigerating them will help them last even longer.
5. However, the top shelf of your refrigerator is your enemy.
Never store produce on the top shelf of your fridge. It gets too cold up there, causing these dainty beauties to freeze and get wilty. The bottom shelf or the crisper drawer works best.
6. Store prepared fruits and veggies in glass so you can see what you have.
There are some vegetables that will store well for a few days if you’d like to prepare them ahead of time (slicing cucumbers, carrots, or peppers; chopping onion or broccoli). But be sure they are dry and air tight. I love storing prepared veggies in glass dishes with tight lids. (These are my favorite.) That way I can see what I have, know how much I have left, and they stay dry and fresh.
What to do when produce starts to go bad?
1. Eat it quickly.
2. Make it into a fruit salad or tossed salad.
3. Freeze it. Berries, peaches, pineapple, mangos, and bananas can be washed, dried, sliced, and placed directly into a freezer bag for smoothies. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans need to be blanched first. Read how to blanch vegetables here. It takes two minutes.
4. Make bread. Here are recipes for Banana Bread, Blueberry Muffins, Strawberry Bread, Zucchini Bread, and Apple Bread. If only you could make Broccoli Bread. Eew, just kidding.
5. Scramble it into some eggs. Mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, onions, peppers getting soft? Chop them up and sauté them in butter. Add eggs, scramble, and you’ve got a delicious way to eat veggies.
6. Throw it into soup. Make it into fajitas. Toss it into stir fry.
What are your greatest tips for keeping produce fresh and using it up before it goes bad?