Storing fresh produce

It really annoys me when I get a pile of fresh produce then go to the fridge only two days later to get a carrot and find a withered, pathetic excuse for a vegetable that wouldn’t even be suitable for a snowman’s nose. It’s just so wasteful, but no doubt my composting worms love it!

So, here’s some guidelines I’ve discovered to store fruit and veg to maximise flavour and life span.

Fruits and veggies need to be stored seperately. Fruits contain ethylene, which is a natual rippening agent. This means if fruits are stored with your veggies, they will cause them to rippen and spoil quickly. This is also why you’ve probably heard of the trick of storing unripe avocadoes in a bag along with green bananas to help them rippen quickly – the bag retains the ethylene gas in a higher concentration than if the were sitting out on the bench. Also remember that technically tomatoes are a fruit, and therefore need to be seperated from your veg, in particular your leafy greens – I later discovered it was tomatoes that caused my pathetic carrot incidents!

Rippening aside, this is what I’ve researched and finds works best for storage

On the bench

  • Tomatoes
  • Whole nuts – in an air tight glass jar (they can also be stored in the pantry or freezer)

In the fruit bowl

  • Bananas
  • Citrus – oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Stone fruit – cherries, peaches and nectarines (but once ripened place in the fridge for longevity)
  • Avocados

In the fridge

  • Herbs – wrapped in paper towel in a glass container
  • Spinach, kale and leafy greens – in a glass container so that it doesn’t wilt
  • Celery – wrapped in foil
  • Carrots and root veg – cut the leaves off so they don’t steal moisture from the root then store in a glass jar or wrapped in foil
  • Ginger – glass jar or wrapped in foil
  • Mushrooms – unwashed in a paper bag
  • Apples
  • Grapes – in a glass container
  • Capsicums – in a glass container
  • Chilies – in a glass jar
  • Cucumbers – in a glass container
  • Beans – in a glass container
  • Squash – eggplant/aubergine, pumpkin, zucchini
  • Melons – watermelon, rockmelon, honeydew melon
  • Nut meals – in an air tight glass container to prevent the oils from going rancid (or in the freezer)

In the freezer

  • Nut meals – in an airtight glass jar (or in the fridge)
  • Whole nuts – in an airtight glass container (if you don’t want them on your bench)

In a dark pantry

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Sweet potato
  • Potato
  • Whole nuts – in an air tight glass jar (if you don’t want them on your bench)

I know it seems like a lot of glass containers, but they’re better than plastic and a one off investment that will last a lifetime.

We live in sub-tropical Brisbane, so these guidelines work well from Autumn to Spring. In summer tomatoes, pears and citrus go off too quickly so the second they’re ripe we transfer them to the fridge. Unfortunately in the fridge they loose some of their flavour.

When we have excess produce I freeze it for use in smoothies and soups. This is also a great way to stock up on seasonal produce when its cheap. For example

  • citrus can be juiced and frozen in icecube trays (then removed and stored in a container in the freezer) to be used in smoothies or thawed and used for salad dressings
  • avocados can be diced or mashed and frozen for use in dips or smoothies (but not so great in salads)
  • chillis, bay leaves, kaffir lime and lemon myrtle leaves can be stored in a container in the freezer, thawed and used when cooking. I prefer them frozen than dried as the oils retain a great flavour
  • bananas can be peeled and I chop mine up then store in a container ready for use frozen in a smoothie or as icecream
  • grapes can be frozen and enjoyed as an icy snack in summer
  • berries frozen as they are in a container are great for smoothies, sauces, pancakes, cakes and baked desserts
  • passionfruit pulp can also be frozen and used in smoothies, juices and desserts
  • leafy greens can be chopped then frozen raw or steamed for use in smoothies, soups and baked dishes
  • root veggies can be peeled, chopped and frozen ready for use in soups, pies, dhals and casseroles

Excess veggies, meats and bones can be boiled in water to make stock, which can be frozen in icecube trays for use later.

Leftover smoothies can also be frozen and used in your next smoothie or enjoyed as icy poles.

I think with all this freezing I need to upgrade to a deep freezer :)

Do you have any handy food storage tips I’m yet to discover?

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