According to this infographic, Americans throw away about 14% of the fruit and 19% of the vegetables they buy. When you consider that most Americans subsist solely on processed crap and never buy fruits or vegetables, then this is really alarming. The Brainses buy a lot of produce, and we throw a lot of it away. Some of it, I’m glad to get rid of (I’m looking at you kohlrabi, beets, and celery.) Most, I’m sad to see go. Well, if you’re like me and you like to buy and eat produce, here are some tips for keeping it fresh.
1. Put Paper Towel in Salad Greens
We used to buy the big containers of spinach at the store and half of it would end up in the trash. Now, we open up the container, put a couple pieces of paper towel on top, and store it upside down. We haven’t thrown away any spinach in months now. The paper towel naturally attracts little elves who pee on the spinach. Their pee has a substance that keeps salad greens from wilting. Try it!
2. Wrap Celery in Aluminum Foil and Throw It Away
We’ve banned celery from the Brains home. None of us like it, and it all eventually ends up in the rubbish bin once it enters our home. If you like the terrible taste and texture of this woody green, try wrapping it in aluminum and storing it in your fridge to get it to last longer.
3. Wrap Broccoli in Paper Towel
Broccoli, lettuce, and carrots all benefit from the little paper towel elves’ pee. You can then store these vegetables separately in airtight Mason jars to get them to last longer. Plastic bags are okay too, but in general, glass is better.
4. Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil
Erin did this once with some surplus basil from her garden. The olive oil/basil cubes then sat in our freezer for a year before I finally threw them out. Don’t tell her. For all she knows, they’re still there. You may find the olive oil cubes more useful. It’s a great start for so many different recipes. It’s just using the cubes never crossed my mind. Now, I really miss them.
5. Wash Berries Right before You Use Them
Water on berries attracts mold so don’t wash them until you are going to enjoy them. If you plan on freezing them, then go ahead and process them (cut off inedible parts and wash). Then, put the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze them before you put them in a freezer bag. This will keep them from sticking together in one impenetrable block.
6. Put Ripe Fruits in the Fridge
Are your bananas, melons, avocados, apricots, mangoes, kiwis, plums, peaches, or pears ripe, but you’re not ready to eat them? Toss them in the fridge. This will slow the ripening process. Your bananas will look inedible, but trust me, peel the brown down and go to town.
7. Wrap Bananas in Plastic
To get bananas to last longer, wrap their crown in plastic. Or, if they only have stupid green bananas at the store, you can get them to ripen faster by putting them in a closed plastic bag. This traps the ethylene gas in, which causes stuff to ripen (and spoil). Also, keep in mind that you can freeze bananas and use them for smoothies.
8. Get an Ethylene Gas Absorber
I’m gonna drop a little science on you. At the 2000 Postharvest Conference at Washington State University, Sylvia Blankenship of North Carolina State University presented on ethylene. Her presentation would change the way we write about keeping produce fresh. She taught us how to love, feel pain, and that this small hydrocarbon gas ripens many of our fruits and vegetables and eventually causes them to spoil. Fortunately, there are now ethylene gas absorbers that you can toss in your fridge to double the life of your produce. I recommend ExtraLife Produce Preserver Disks.
9. Store Apples and Potatoes Together
When you put apples and potatoes in bed together, the apples keep the potatoes from sprouting eyes. I don’t know if the potatoes do anything for the apples, though.
10. Vacuum Seal EVERYTHING
Scientists want you to believe that humans are made of water and need water to live, but the truth is that water destroys everything. I know: I live in the Pacific Northwest where it never stops raining (except for most of the year). Also, the air is terrible for your produce. Air is full of mold spores and ethylene gas. Therefore, vacuum seal your stuff to keep moisture and air away.
BONUS TIP: 11. Save Spoiled Produce for Daring Friends
Don’t you hate it when top ten lists throw in a bonus tip that really doesn’t belong there and is really unhelpful?
How do you keep your food fresh? Share your secrets in the comments below!