5 Tips That Will Keep Your Food Fresh

Are you eager to eat healthily but sick of wasting money on fresh groceries that go bad too soon after you buy them? It is a common problem people face. Eating, fresh, local foods are often the advice given by medical professionals as the primary way to manage our health. There are tips and tricks though, that you can do which will keep your produce fresher, longer. Let’s check them out.

Buy The Best Food

When you are shopping for produce the fresher the better. Buying locally is always good, but not everybody has access to locally grown produce all year round. So when you go to the store be sure to inspect your fruits and veggies. Look for produce that isn’t too soft or has visible damage like blemishes and bruises.

If you are a person who likes to prep food as soon as you get home, be aware that when you cut fruits and veggies that will speed up the spoiling process. Only cut the produce you are ready to eat immediately. If you cut into something that you don’t want to eat entirely right away, cut the pieces from it that you want and then store the rest in an airtight container. Keeping the cut food away from exposure to air is key to helping it keep its integrity longer. 

Additionally, it can be very tempting when you go to your local market, especially in the summer, and go overboard. Be sure to only buy what you know you are going to use. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you are buying your produce strategically which will help you minimize waste.

Storing Your Produce

When you get home prepping and storage of produce is necessary. You may not even realize it but putting certain foods together can speed up spoilage. For instance, apples produce ethylene which is a natural plant hormone that is released from the fruit in the form of a gas. This gas will actually promote the ripening process in other produce.

Apples aren’t alone in this respect. Pears, avocados, ripe bananas, onions, peaches, and tomatoes all emit this gas. There are foods that are particularly sensitive to this gas and will be more prone to ripen so fast that they can go bad sooner if they are stored with ethylene producing foods. Asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, leafy greens, and carrots will ripen faster in the presence of an ethylene producing vegetables or fruits. So storing produce that gives off ethylene away from produce that is sensitive to it is recommended to keep your produce last longer.

Interestingly, potatoes do good by having an ethylene-producing food in the bag with them. So the next time you buy a big bag of potatoes, throw an apple in there to keep them firmer for longer. Here are some other worthwhile storing tips:

  • Berries are best enjoyed in the spring and summer when they are in season. These delicate fruits can perish quickly, so when you soak them in 1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water you can rid them of mold spores. It is important they dry completely before you refrigerate them. Some people prefer not to even wash them until they are ready to eat because they are so affected by moisture.
  • Store mushrooms in a paper bag to reduce the moisture they are exposed to
  • Don’t’ store tomatoes in the refrigerator, as doing so reduces their flavor and changes their texture.
  • Keep avocados out of the refrigerator to ripen and then refrigerate after they are ripe to keep them longer. Avocadoes that ripen will become mushy and overripe fast.
  • Keep a paper towel in your fruits drawer and veggie drawer in the refrigerator to suck up moisture which will spoil produce.
  • Use small glass vases and fill with water. Make sure that the roots and ends of your herbs hit the water and you can enjoy longer-lasting herbs, pretty bouquets, and natural fragrance.
  • Don’t’ separate banana bunches until you are ready to eat one because keeping them together increases their lifespan. While we are at it, adding some plastic wrapt to the stem that holds the bunch is often seen in grocery stores for a reason. Do it at home to keep those bananas lasting longer.
  • Always store meat higher in your refrigerator and fruits and veggies lower because it stays cooler in the lower parts of your refrigerator.

Lock-in Freshness

There are a couple options you have through which you can preserve juicy fruits and veggies. Not every vegetable and fruit freezes well. Many do, though. If you just came in from the sun and have a basket full of sweet strawberries, cleaning, cutting, and freezing will keep the seal in their taste and freshness. Use them in smoothies, cook them down for jam, or let them thaw and put them on top of a cheesecake, for instance.

The other option to keep seasonal fruits and veggies far beyond their shelf-life is to pickle them or can them. You might be able to find a canning class at your local library or farm. You can also lookup caning videos. It is important to take the time to understand the correct way to can because if you do it the wrong way you can seal in bacteria that is very harmful. 

Drying fruits and veggies is another nice trick. Kale chips and banana chips are very tasty.

Keep Your Refrigerator Clean

It isn’t uncommon for fridges to build up some kind of funk. Between leaks here and there, spills in the crevices, and old food that got lost somewhere in the back, it all adds up. That funk can stink too. Keeping your fridge cleaned by always immediately wiping up spills when you see them and doing a regular clean-out is helpful in keeping fresh produces fresher longer.

Additionally, make sure your refrigerator is the right temperature. Keeping your overall temperature at 40 degrees will keep your food pristine for eating.

Eat It!

You are buying these fresh food items to eat them, so do it! Don’t wait to get into them, snacking on veggies and fruits and adding in veggies where ever you can will help you actually get to eat the produce before it goes bad. 

Salads are delicious and can be done in many ways. Sauteeing veggies for a stir-fry or a yummy side is quick and easy. If you have a juicer, make yourself plenty of healthy, nutritious, and vitamin-filled specialty drinks. There are many ways you can add veggies into traditional recipes for a healthy makeover. Zucchini can be cut into noodles for lasagna. Spiralizing veggies can be slightly cooked or raw and tossed with a vinaigrette for a colorful and flavorful slaw.

Resources: University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food & Drug