Separate fruit and vegetables in storage
Separate ethylene producing items from ethylene sensitive items for storage. In general, fruits give off more ethylene than vegetables, and vegetables are more sensitive to the harmful effects of ethylene. Two crisper bins is always best and you should use one crisper bin for fruits and the other for vegetables. You can check which items are ethylene producers and which are ethylene sensitive by visiting our Produce Reference Chart.
One bad apple will spoil the lot
Decayed or damaged produce will produce much higher levels of ethylene than normal. In addition, mould and fungal spores can easily transfer from one piece to another. You should sort through your produce before storing them in your fridge and discard any items that are decaying or damaged.
Use plastic bags
Most fresh produce requires humidity levels of 80-95% for best storage results but your refrigerator humidity level is only about 65%. So keep your produce in plastic bags to stop them from dehydrating, particularly products like leafy greens and others that do not have an outer skin of their own.
Speed ripening works
You can use ripening bowls with a top on them or paper bags to ripen fruits that are not yet ready to be eaten. These work by trapping the ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening process. For rapid results place other high ethylene producing produce items in the bowl or bag also (eg: bananas, apples) to increase the ethylene production.
Don’t soak away nutrients
Soaking leaches nutrients so you should avoid soaking fruits and vegetables in water for too long. Water-soluble vitamins and minerals can leach into the water and diminish the nutrient value when you eat them.
Mold & mildew is easily spread
Regularly clean your crisper bin to prevent mold and bacteria from growing and transferring to your produce. Mould and mildew can be transferred from one surface to another very easily and rotting fruits and vegetables produce significantly more ethylene than fresh product.
You should cut off the tops and outermost leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage before putting them in the fridge. Any toxic residues from agricultural chemicals and fertilizers may reside in these outer leaves. Remember to always wash your produce in clean water before use.
Not all produce needs the fridge
Not all produce needs refrigeration. Potatoes and Onions for example should be stored in a cool dry place in the cupboard or pantry. Bananas will go black when placed in the fridge and tomatoes will be tastier if stored at room temperature.
No plastic bags for mushrooms
Mushrooms are 90% water and will go slimy if stored in plastic bags. They will also absorb odours if stored with other foods that have a strong odour. Always store your mushrooms in paper bags.
Skin is nutrient packed
Many nutrients are concentrated just beneath the skin of fruit and vegetables. Avoid peeling them when you can. Even if you don’t eat the skin, try to leave it on as the fruit or vegetable cooks to preserve nutrients.
Hold off chopping until ready to eat
Cutting or chopping foods high in Vitamin C releases an enzyme that can destroy the vitamin. It’s best to leave fruit and vegetables whole until they’re ready to eat.
When fresh produce is cut, enzymes will cause darkening on the cut surface due to the increased presence of oxygen. It is best to keep cut produce tightly wrapped and to eat them as soon as possible.
Delay salad browning
Leafy greens like lettuce and cabbage will stay fresh for longer when cut if they are dipped in hot water (50 degrees C) for 30 seconds. The heat shock causes a reaction which reduces production of the enzyme which causes browning.
Lemon juice for fruit salad
Squeeze lemon juice on your fruit salad to keep it from browning rapidly. The ascorbic acid and citric acid in the lemon lemon juice counteracts the browning enzyme in fruits.
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