It’s no secret that I love farmers markets. But I think I might love them a little too much – I have such a hard time limiting what I buy! Sometimes I’ll come home with enough food to feed a family of 6 for two weeks (FYI, I live at home with just my mom and my dad right now… and my dad doesn’t really eat vegetables)!
And sadly fruits and vegetables don’t last forever. But thanks to my food science class in university, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer:
1. Don’t store beets in a closed bag – they will go mouldy because of the trapped moisture (trust me – I just did this recently by accident!). Store them in the fridge in a bag with holes poked into it to let the moisture escape. If you want to get really intense like Alton Brown, you can store beets and other root vegetables in a bucket of clean sand in a cool place, which keeps them good for months.
2. Store asparagus standing up in water to keep it crisp. I’ve never tried this because I don’t like asparagus (I know, I’m a horrible RD), but I hear it works!
3. Store potatoes between 60-65°F (16-18°C) in a dark area like in your basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. Storing them in the fridge makes starch to turn to sugar, which changes their flavour and browning properties when cooked. But the fridge can prolong their shelf life, so if you decide to keep them in the fridge, simply take them out a few days before you use them and their sugars will convert back to starches.
4. Don’t keep tomatoes in the fridge – when they are stored below 50°F (10°C) a flavour compound is switched off, so they become less flavourful. And that would be a shame since local tomatoes are so delicious right now!
5. Only wash your berries right before use. Pre-washing them will cause them to develop mould much quicker! Also store them in as large of a container as possible so they can be spread out.
6. If your peaches, nectarines, or plums aren’t fully ripened, wait to put them in the fridge until they have ripened. Putting them in the fridge when they are unripe can give them sub par flavour and turn their flesh brown.
7. Store pumpkin and winter squash (i.e. butternut, spaghetti, acorn, delicata, buttercup, hubbard, and kabocha) slightly below room temperature between 60-65°F (16-18°C) and avoid storing them in the humidity if you want them to last a long time.
8. Store onions in a dark place between 60-65°F (16-18°C) and keep other fruits and vegetables away from them so that they don’t absorb the odour of onions. Carrots in particular like to absorb other odours. I actually once had a carrot that tasted like ham… I really don’t want to know why!
9. Store root vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips, and turnips separately from their tops – this is because when the tops are attached, they can leach moisture from the root vegetables.
10. Don’t keep avocados and bananas in the fridge before they are ripe – this can damage them and prevent them from ripening. But once ripened, avocados actually keep best in the fridge.
What are your tips and tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer?