04/14/2015 12:44 EDT

Fruit And Vegetable Storage Tips You Need In Your Life


It's coming to that time of year again when farmer's markets are opening and fresh produce is but a few dollars away. But of course, with great produce comes great storage responsibility — so in case you need a reminder about how to keep those fruits and vegetables fresh for as long as possible, we've pulled together some tips.

According to Nicole Fetterly, a registered dietitian with Vancouver-based Choices Markets, it's very common for people in North America to waste produce every week, and the stats certainly back her up. One study put the cost per year at $31 billion worth of food thrown away, and that includes plenty of fruits and veggies that have gone to waste.

"For those of us who can only find time to shop on the weekends, by Wednesday or Thursday, most of our fresh produce has run out," Fetterly says. "Many of us are scared to buy enough to last through the week because we’re scared of it going bad and ending up in the compost bin."

She notes that if you break it down mathematically for a family of four, you need at least 56 servings of fruit and 168 servings of veggies to meet everyone’s weekly nutritional needs. That's a lot of potential rotten bananas.

Fetterly has put together a list of how and where to store your fruits and vegetables throughout the week, including what order to use them in and how to freeze some items for longevity.

  • Bananas, Berries And Melons
    Bananas, Berries And Melons
    "These tend to ripen quickly," says Nicole Fetterly, a registered dietitian with Choices Markets. "Eat them in the first three days of bringing them home. Or freeze berries in a single layer to add to smoothies and yogurt."
  • Apples, Pears, Oranges, Grapefruit
    Apples, Pears, Oranges, Grapefruit
    These fruits last much longer in the fridge and can be saved until the end of the week. "Don’t store your apples and pears with any other fruit or veggie as they give off a gas called ethylene which causes other produce to ripen faster," she advises.
  • Lettuce
    "We’ve all had the experience of opening a clamshell of greens and discovering the slime, so use these up at the beginning of the week," Fetterly notes. If spinach seems to be approaching its end point, steam it all and squeeze out the excess water. Then it can be kept in the fridge longer and added to eggs, sauces, soups or salads.
  • Fresh Herbs
    Fresh Herbs
    "Herbs are the best way to add flavour and chlorophyll to your food, but they often go slimy," Fetterly says. Keep basil in a jar of water on the windowsill for weeks — the fridge can turn it black. Other herbs can be kept in a jar of water in the fridge covered in a plastic bag with a few air holes punched in.
  • Cucumber
    "These should also get used up within three to four days. Slice and pack for an easy lunch veggie for the whole family," she says.
  • Broccoli
    "You'll want to use broccoli in a few days to prevent it turning yellowish brown. If you’ve bought too much, blanch it for one minute in boiling water, dry then freeze," Fetterly advises.
  • Leafy Greens (Kale, Chard, Collards)
    Leafy Greens (Kale, Chard, Collards)
    "Chard will be the first green to go, so it should be used first within three days. Collards have the most longevity and can keep through the week," Fetterly says. "Kale is somewhere in the middle. If you’re sitting on too much, pack it tightly in a freezer bag then pull out and crumble into shakes, soups and pasta."
  • Avocados
    "Buy them green and allow them to ripen on the counter next to your bananas," Fetterly notes. "Once they are just softening, put them in the fridge where they will keep for a week. Keep the cycle going every week and you’ll always have ripe avocados in the fridge for smoothies, toast and of course, guac!"
  • Root Veggies And Winter Squash
    Root Veggies And Winter Squash
    This includes anything from carrots to potatoes to turnips to celeriac to onions to garlic to pumpkin to butternut squash. "These have longevity!" Fetterly says. "Keep them cool and dark and they’ll easily last a week or two."
  • Cabbage
    This "affordable and underappreciated veggie," according to Fetterly, has great longevity, so use up the lettuce for your early in the week salads and save the cabbage for Thursday night coleslaw. "Shred half a head and marinate with salt and vinegar or lemon to soften then add extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs for flavour."


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