There’s nothing better than buying all your fresh produce from a local market or grocery store—but there is also nothing worse than realising a few days later that your shopping has rotted in the crisper drawer. Knowing what to buy, when to buy it and how to store it makes all the difference when it comes to keeping your fridge stocked full of ripe greens and veggies all year long.
It’s important to take your time picking out produce. If you bring home a bad apple or wilted bunch of lettuce, no amount of refrigeration or prep will save it. Therefore, make sure you inspect the product first, so you don’t have any problems when you get home.
If you’re stocking up on vegetables, it’s always best to reach out for root vegetables such as carrots, beets, daikon, turnips—most crunchy root vegetables really— as those things will last forever in the fridge.
Once purchased, it all comes down to prep. It best to remove the carrot tops and beet greens and stores them separately to prevent the greens from pulling out the root’s moisture. As a rule, it’s best to avoid pre-washing produce, because the moisture can lead to spoilage. The one exception is leeks and asparagus, which can be stored upright, with the cut end submerged in about an inch of water.
When it comes to picking your weekly fruit basket, be sure to reach for longer-lasting fruits. We all know Summer fruits seem to rot in a heartbeat, but citrus and apples can hang out in the fridge for at least a couple weeks.
Just be sure you’re to only select bruised-free fruits, especially when buying in bulk. If there’s one bad apple in the group, it really can spoil the whole bunch. Fruits like apples produce ethylene gas when ripe, which prompts all the other apples to ripen too. This ripening effect means it’s best not to store quick-ripening fruit to close to other produce. If your fridge isn’t large enough for total separation, reserve the crisper drawer for the delicate stuff.
This brings us to picking the right greens. always think sturdy. Lettuces are notoriously fragile, but firm greens like kale and collards can stay fresh for about a week if stored properly. If you buy bunches of asparagus or anything leafy, be sure to take off the rubber band it comes with because it compresses the leaves. Keep in mind, if you need to store loose leaves such as spinach or rocket, make sure you store the produce in plastic bags and leave them untied so the produce can breathe. If it’s kept tightly concealed in plastic, bitter chicories like radicchio and endive will also stay fresh in the fridge’s crisper drawer for about a week.
So, what is best in the fridge and best around the kitchen:
In the Fridge:
- Ripe fruits you want to keep fresh longer.
- Chopped fruits or veggies: Store in glass or BPA-free plastic containers if possible.
- Root vegetables, including carrots, beets, radishes, parsnips, and turnips
- Leafy greens and herbs: Wash and pat dry (or use a salad spinner), then wrap in a damp paper towel and refrigerate in an open-ended bag.
- Berries and mushrooms: Store in their original packaging.
- Eggplant: Store inside a paper bag to slow ripening.
- Corn—It’s best to eat fresh cob corn immediately after purchasing, there’s no need to boil local, fresh corn; just peel it and eat!
- Most other vegetables can be kept in open-ended bags or in the vegetable drawer/crisper (unbagged) such as broccoli, capsicum, cucumbers, fennel, scallions, cauliflower, celery, brussels sprouts, summer squashes, and ginger.
Keep the following items out of the refrigerator in a cool, dry space, away from direct sunlight.
- Winter squashes.
- Bananas: Store in a paper bag to speed ripening, or move to the refrigerator to slow it.
- Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries).
- Whole pineapples and melons.
- Apples that are not too ripe.
- Citrus (lemon, lime and orange): Move to the refrigerator if you want to slow ripening.
- Avocados: Store in a paper bag to speed ripening, or move to the refrigerator to slow it.
Don’t Forget About Frozen
Frozen veggies stay good much longer than fresh and are a perfect back up to have on hand for those busy weeknight dinners.
And our last tip is to prevent your apples or potatoes from becoming brown and mealy too fast, keep them away from your bananas!