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5 Science-Backed
Truths about Storing Fruits and Veggies

Alison Martin, Hazel Technologies
April 15, 2016 4:50 pm CST

There’s nothing worse than reaching into your produce drawer
and taking out a bag of mushy carrots or moldy onions – 
especially when you have just bought them.

Produce buyers can save money by improving their fruit and vegetable storing habits

Produce buyers can save money by improving their fruit and vegetable storing habits

If you’ve ever wondered why your produce spoils so quickly and wished for a solution, here are five science-backed truths that will help you preserve your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to use them.

1.      Fruits and vegetables cannot be stored together.

Ever heard the phrase, “One bad apple will spoil the whole bunch?” Well, if you’re storing your fruits and vegetables together, that old adage may become a reality.

 They may come from the same places – the ground, a tree, a bush or a vine – but fruits and vegetables should not be sharing the same space.

 The reason is because fruits produce more ethylene gas. According to research from Washington State University, ethylene becomes a ripening hormone, infecting fruits and vegetables near by. A little ethylene helps fruit ripen, but too much will spoil the whole bunch.

 Make sure you have separate shelves or drawers for fruits and vegetables and don’t mix them back and forth.

This will keep your produce fresher longer, and it will also help you keep your refrigerator and storage area more organized – something you’ll be thankful for when you need to pull out fruits and veggies in a hurry.

2.      Onions and potatoes do not store well together.

They go great in a stew together, but keep them in the same drawer and you will be sorry. Onions and potatoes should never be stored in the same place – whether it’s in a produce drawer or on the same shelf.

 Though onions are in fact vegetables, they too give off gases. These gases are known to spoil potatoes and cause them to sprout – something you definitely don’t want.

Instead, store your potatoes and onions separately. Potatoes prefer darkness and dryness. Once you bring your spuds in, transfer them to a paper bag and put them in a pantry. Do not refrigerate them.

Doing so can turn those starches into sugars, which will change the texture and taste of your potatoes.

Onions should be kept at room temperature because they’ll turn soft and mushy quickly if kept in a refrigerator. They should be kept on a
countertop or shelf.

For best results, put your onions with garlic. The two go together better than peas and carrots.

 3.      Bananas can (eventually) be stored in a refrigerator.

Bananas often seem to ripen overnight, producing unsightly brown spots that look anything but appetizing.

If you don’t want a freezer filled with endless loaves of banana bread, listen up!

 The key to keeping bananas ripe longer is timing. When you first get your green bananas to your kitchen, break them up from the bunch.

They may not look as pretty, but they’ll last longer. Now take out your plastic
wrap and wrap up each banana stem. Ethylene gas comes out of the stems so wrapping them will limit the amount the bananas give off.

Once your bananas are wrapped, they can be stored on a countertop or shelf until they’ve reached optimal ripeness. As soon as that happens, you can transfer them to the refrigerator. This will help them last just a little bit longer.

4.      Water can help preserve produce.

When you get a bouquet of flowers, the first thing you do is put them in a fresh vase of water. The stems soak up with water and keep themselves fresher for a few more days before dying off.

 You can apply this same principle to three types of produce – carrots, Brussel sprouts and asparagus.

 Carrots will last for roughly two weeks in a crisper drawer – provided they’re unpeeled and concealed in a zip-top bag. If you’ve already peeled your carrots or have baby carrots, submerging them in water is best.

Fill up a container with water and place the carrots in. Secure tightly with a
sturdy lid and change the water often.

If you bought your Brussels sprouts on the stem, water can help you preserve them for a longer period of time. Place the stem end of the spout in water. Whenever you’re ready to use a sprout, just break one off.

Asparagus should be stored just like a vase of flowers. When you get the bunch back to your kitchen, keep the rubber band binding them and cut about a half inch off the bottoms.

Now stand the bunch in a vase and add a small amount of water to the bottom. Cover the bunch with a baggie or plastic wrap. When you’re ready to prepare, trim off the tips of the asparagus and you’re good to go.

5.      Treat tomatoes with care.
Most people casually toss tomatoes in the crisper drawer and never think anything of it. This, however, is probably the worst place to store a tomato, and here’s why.

Chilly refrigerators affect the inside membranes of the tomato. They get softer, allowing the tomato’s flavor to seep out. While you can reactivate some of that flavor by taking your tomatoes out and setting them on the counter one day before you eat them, it’s best to save yourself the extra trouble.

 Instead, store your tomatoes on your countertop or shelf. They’ll taste best once you let them ripen. If you’re not ready to eat them, you can freeze them for a rainy day.

Unlike cooking itself, storing fruits and vegetables is much
more of a science than an art. When you store your produce properly, you’ll
spend less money and time replacing it.

Share with us: which one of these fruit and veggie storage truths took you by surprise?

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