How to Store your Produce to Reduce Waste and Save Money
Every year, around 20 percent, or 11 million tonnes, of all food produced in Canada is wasted.
This leads to the release of greenhouse gases in landfills as well as wasted money at the grocery store. And it’s completely avoidable.
Even though it can seem impossible to get to your fruit and veggies before they start rotting, there are ways you can increase their life span and keep the environment and your wallet happy.
Read on for 7 tips that will help you store your produce properly so you can save your produce and money:
1. Store your veggies in the high humidity bin in your fridge and your fruits in the low humidity bin
Veggies that tend to wilt like spinach, kale, and broccoli will love the extra water. On the flipside, fruits that rot easily like apples, pears, and avocados will find a happy home in a dryer environment.
2. Keep ethylene-producing products away from ethylene-sensitive foods
Ethylene is a gas released by certain fruits and vegetables (apples, avocados, mangos, plums, tomatoes, peaches, etc.) that causes other produce that is more sensitive to ethylene to ripen faster (broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, parsley, peppers, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.).
To prevent your food from spoiling, store these foods separately. Also avoid storing ethylene-producing foods in plastic bags as they can trap the gas in and cause them to spoil faster.
3. Don’t cut up your fruits and vegetables
Yes, you read that right. Although it’s tempting to chop your produce up in advance and leave it in the fridge for ease of use, this actually causes them to rot quicker. If you need to cut them, make sure you plan to consume the food within 24 hours.
4. Wrap the stems of leafy greens and herbs with damp paper towels or cheese cloth
Wrapping the stems of easily wilting greens and herbs like cilantro, parsley and basil in damp paper towels or cheese cloth provides just enough moisture to keep these foods happy and green longer. No more mysterious slime!
5. Keep an inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer, and pantry
This doesn’t just apply to produce, keep an eye on expiry dates on meats, starches, and snacks. This will help prevent you from overbuying certain products, and will allow you to plan meals around foods that are reaching the end of their shelf life – or approaching the dreaded freezer burn.
If you’re too busy to keep a written record of your stock, try taking a photo of your shelves to keep track instead.
6. Store fruits and veggies in the freezer when possible
Need some extra time despite your best efforts? Most fruits can be frozen raw after a good clean, and most vegetables can be frozen after being fully cooked or blanched (dunked into boiling water). Blanching vegetables prevents them from turning mushy and discoloring in the freezer.
However, avoid freezing celery, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, radishes, watercress, and endive as these foods’ high-water content will cause them to taste soggy once thawed.
7. Familiarize yourself with the shelf life of your favourite produce
You might have a ballpark idea of how long your regular rotations of fruit and veggies last, but do you know what the actual timeline is? Learning how long your produce keeps in the fridge or pantry can help you plan your grocery shopping smarter.
Broccoli, lettuce, peas, and brussels sprouts for instance, only keep fresh for 3-5 days in the fridge, while celery, carrots, and cabbages can last for up to 2 weeks.
Similarly with fruit, berries, cherries, nectarines, and peaches only keep for 3-5 days in the fridge, while apples, melons and citrus fruit can last anywhere form 1-4 weeks.
Once you start becoming more familiar with your food stock, expiry dates, and how to best store your produce, you can expect more money in your pocket, and goodness in your tummy.
Need further help reaching your nutrition goals? We can help. Book a free consult for more information.