RAPID CITY, S.D. — It’s the time of year that produce is in abundance but now the tricky part is storing it the proper way.
“The thing is when you buy fresh produce, store it correctly,” said Kayla Wede, a Clinical Dietitian at Monument Health. “So when you store it correctly, that is going to make sure that it lasts the longest. So the biggest thing that I always think of is where do you buy it? So if you buy it sitting out or if you buy it in the refrigerated section, that is going to be the best way to store it too.”
Berries and leafy greens are delicate and they hate to be wet, so they can be tricky. Either wash right before you eat them or wash and dry and then if available, put them in a storage container that is breathable. And if mold does appear, just throw away the pieces touching the mold, clean the container and the rest is safe to eat.
A crisper drawer will help protect your produce and keep the moisture in to maintain freshness for longer – like grapes, blueberries, cucumbers and bell peppers.
Apples, tomatoes, mangoes and pears can be put on the countertop and eventually in the fridge when they begin to turn.
“When you store your fruits and vegetables, kind of keep them separated,” Wede said. “You don’t want to overcrowd them because they do give off that Ethylene gas and when they are all together, it just releases it a lot faster.”
Ethylene, a natural gas that’s released from some fruits and vegetables, speeds up the ripening process; that is why you want to store bananas by themselves on the countertop.
“So a cool trick with bananas is that you can put Cling Wrap or Saran Wrap around the tip of the banana and even just leaving them on the counter, that will help them last longer,” Wede said. “If you do put bananas in the fridge or freezer, that makes them ripen faster.”
Wede says to buy produce in bulk and to pick a variety so they end up ripening at different times. You can prep the produce and freeze right away to make them last. Frozen or canned produce is a great option if you can’t buy fresh – just make sure no extra elements like sugar is added.
When you get your asparagus home, cut off the ends and store upright in a glass of water and that will help it last longer, the same goes for celery.
Store potatoes, onions and garlic in a dark, dry place like a Lazy Susan, or paper bag. Make sure onions are by themselves because other foods will take on the flavor.
Citrus fruits double as decor – they ripen differently than other fruits.
Avocados can be tricky. If they get mushy quickly, you do have other an option.
“You can freeze avocados – you can mash them up and put them in an ice cube tray and freeze the ice cube tray and then just transfer them over to a bag,” Wede said. “They can get a little brown, but the brown doesn’t mean that it is bad to eat, it just means that is got excess air to it.”
Grains, nuts, seeds and beans should be stored in a cool dark place. Make sure to check the expiration date, typically a year for nuts.
The bottom line is to eat that fresh produce before it rots because it will just become wasted food and money.
Wede says that the Farmers’ Market curbside pick-up is a great option to keep fresh produce in the house and it also helps local farmers’ business.
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