5 Secrets to Make Fresh Produce Last Longer

tomatoes

Does the New Year mean a new you? It can – if you take a few moments to identify some specific, actionable changes you can make to your daily routines that infuse vibrant health. For instance, adding 30 minutes a day of rigorous movement to your routine, (such as cross-country skiing or a dance class at your local gym), or heaping a lot more vegetables into your diet.

In my experience, many people find that it’s easier to think about adding certain foods to their diet for health rather than focusing on “what not to eat.” If that sounds like you, pledging to put more veggies on your plate in 2014 is a noble goal that reaps real health rewards, from a trimmer waistline to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension and certain types of cancers.

The problem with fresh vegetables, as you have probably discovered for yourself, is that begins as the best of intentions in the produce aisle can sometimes end up as spoiled science experiments if not eaten promptly.

While our grandparents probably knew all of these cost-saving strategies by heart, those of us in the modern-multitasking world can use a quick refresher. Try these five simple strategies to get the biggest bang from your buck from the produce you buy – and to propel you to a higher level of health in 2014. 

Don’t suffocate your produce.
Poke holes in plastic storage bags (about every six inches through both sides of the bag) to allow air flow in and out of the bag. This helps your produce last longer, as it prevents condensation and shriveling. This is why many fruits (such as grapes) come in bags that are already perforated.

Keep countertop produce away from heat and sunlight.
While sitting on a countertop can help fruit ripen to its peak (such as a melon or a peach), as soon as it’s ripe, store fruit in the fridge to make it last longer. Produce that doesn’t get stored in the fridge, such as onions and avocados, will last longer if you store them in a cool, dark place, such as in the pantry.

Remove overripe, bruised or spoiled parts immediately.
When you get home from the grocery store, remove any overripe fruit, leaves or parts that are bruised or spoiled before storing the rest (for instance, that bag of clementines you bought may have one overripe clementine lurking in the corner of it). This is because overripe produce releases an odorless gas called ethylene, which speeds up the ripening process and makes nearby produce spoil faster.

Separate the greens from beets.
Buying beets with the greens attached is a super cost-effective, 1-2 punch of nutrition, as each provides a distinct set of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. But be sure to separate the greens from the beets when you get home from the market; keeping beet greens attached to beets can make the beets dry out and shrivel faster, as it encourages the leaves to draw moisture from the roots.

Store tomatoes stem side down.
One of America’s most beloved vegetables (which is technically a fruit) most people know that tomatoes will last longer sitting on the countertop than in the fridge. But here’s a trick to get them to last even longer: Store tomatoes stem side down to prevent air from getting into (and moisture from exiting) the little scar at the top of the tomato where it used to be attached to the plant. This will slow their decline significantly. Follow this golden rule unless you have tomatoes with the stems still attached, as you can sometimes buy in the supermarket. Those should be stored on the counter stem side up.