Do you find that all your lovely fresh fruit and vegetables end up wilted and sorry-looking after a couple of days? That could be because you’re storing the wrong foods together – read on to find out how they should be stored to keep them fresher for longer.
Cucumbers are very sensitive to ethylene gas, a ripening agent produced by fruits such as tomatoes, bananas and melons. Keep cucumbers away from these fruits or they will spoil faster. The counter is the ideal place to keep cucumbers, but if you don’t like them at room temperature, store them in a part of the fridge away from the other fruits and veggies.
Fresh herbs make great additions to our food, but most of us buy them and dump them in the fridge. Experts recommend treating them like cut flowers instead. Make sure the leaves are properly dry, snip off the ends and place the herbs stem down in a cup or mason jar with water. Most herbs will keep this way in the fridge, but basil prefers to be kept at room temperature in a jar of water. When the water that the herbs are standing in gets a bit gross, drain it and add fresh water. Most herbs stored this way will keep for up to two weeks.
3. Squash and Pumpkins with Apples and Pears
Squash and pumpkins store extremely well, but apples and pears should never be kept with them. According to the Oregon State University Extension Service, this practice will cause the squash to turn yellow and go bad. Squash and pumpkins like to be kept between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooler than room temperature, but not as cold as the fridge. Big pumpkins and squash can last up to six months, but smaller ones usually last for around three months.
4. Bag Root Vegetables
Carrots, potatoes, beets, onions and turnips are great nutrient dense vegetables. They should be stored in a cool, dark place like a root cellar. Most of us don’t have the option of a root cellar, so the next best thing is to put the veg in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
5. Wash Berries with Vinegar
Berries can go moldy very quickly if they’re not stored properly, and the first rule of storage is not to wash them until you’re ready to eat them, as the moisture encourages the mold. If you have a lot of berries that you can’t eat right away, you can make them last a few days longer by putting them in a bath of one cup vinegar to three cups water. Let them soak for a few minutes, then rinse in a colander. Dry the berries thoroughly by blotting them with paper towels. Store them loosely packed in a ventilated container.
6. Separate Apples and Oranges
These two fruits do not get along well together! They release ethylene gas, which is a ripening agent, causing the fruit around them to spoil much faster. Store your apples in the fridge to give them a longer shelf life. If you store oranges in the fridge, keep them away from the apples, and in a mesh bag rather than a plastic one.
7. Don’t Keep Bananas in a Bunch
A bunch of bananas in a fruit bowl or on a hook look good, but if they’re kept together, your bananas will all ripen at the same time. Break the bunch up and keep some in a fruit bowl to ripen, and put the others in the fridge to delay the ripening until you’ve eaten the others.
8. Keep Onions and Potatoes Separate
Onions and potatoes go great together in recipes, but they shouldn’t be stored together -the onions will make the potatoes go bad. Potatoes and squash are ideally stored in an open-air wicker or mesh basket in a cool, dark place. They can be kept in a paper bag, but not plastic containers or anything else that would allow moisture and condensation to build up. You can store garlic and onions together without either one spoiling. Keep them in a well-ventilated space and keep the papery skin of the garlic bulb intact until you need to use them.
9. Ripen Avocados Next to Bananas
Avocados can be expensive, so to cut down on wastage they should be stored properly. If you need to ripen avocados, keep them with bananas, as the gases from the bananas encourage ripening. If you want to keep avocados from getting ripe for longer, store them in the fridge, as it will slow the ripening process. If you want to store one half of an avocado for the next day, keep the seed intact. Put in an airtight container with a sliver of onion, and this will stop them going brown.
10. Keep Tomatoes on the Countertop
Most of us keep tomatoes in the fridge, but it’s not the best place for them to be. The fridge can really rob tomatoes of their fresh taste. Keep them at room temperature for the best flavor and texture.
11. Keep Sliced Carrots, Celery and Asparagus in Water
Limp celery is no-one’s idea of a tasty snack! Storing celery in plastic is a bad idea, since the ethylene gas it produces has nowhere to go. Wrap the celery in foil instead, and re-wrap it tightly every time you take some out. You can also store celery and carrots as a ready-to-eat snack in their own water bath. Cut them up and keep in water in an airtight container. For asparagus, snip the woody ends of the stalks off, but keep the rubber band on. Put the whole bunch of asparagus in a tall jar with enough water to cover an inch at the bottom of the spears.
12. Chill Sweetcorn
Sweetcorn is best eaten fresh, but if you have to store it, keep it in the fridge. Keep the husks on to keep moisture in, and don’t wrap in a plastic or paper bag. Keep the corn towards the front of the fridge, where it’s slightly warmer, as it will dry out and get starchy if it’s kept too cold.