Storing fruits and vegetables without plastic

Keep our Mountains Beautiful

Sandee ScottMarch 14, 2013 

A previous Trash Talk article mentioned that Americans throw out vast amounts of food. Among other reasons, we discard food when it's gone bad, sometimes a result of poor storage methods.

When you bring your produce home in a plastic bag, chances are it goes into your refrigerator in that bag. But is that the best way to store your food? How many of you, like me, have reached into the crisper and grabbed a slimy cucumber, smushed in its bag?

The following tips on best methods for storing fresh fruits and vegetables come from the Ecology Center in Berkeley and will help you waste less food and to use less plastic:

Fruit:

Apples - Store in a cool place for up to two weeks. Store in a cardboard box in the fridge for longer storage.

Berries - Berries are fragile, so if possible, keep them in a single layer. Can be kept in a paper bag. Wash right before you plan to eat them.

Cherries - Store in an airtight container. Moisture can encourage mold growth, so only wash right before you plan to eat them.

Citrus - Store in a cool place with good airflow. Don't store in an airtight container.

Pears - To speed up ripening, place them in paper bag with an apple. Pears will keep for a few weeks in a cool place.

Strawberries - They do best stored in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Don't wash before storing.

Stone fruit (apricots, peaches, nectarines) - Generally, fruit will ripen on a cool counter. Store in fridge only when fully ripe.

Vegetables:

Artichokes - Store in an airtight container with light moisture.

Avocados - Place in a paper bag at room temperature. To hasten ripening, place an apple in bag with them.

Broccoli - Place in an open container in the fridge, or wrap in a damp towel before refrigerating.

Cabbage - Can be left on a cool counter for up to a week; place in crisper for longer storage.

Carrots - Cut tops off. Place them in closed container with moisture, either dunk them in cold water every couple of days or wrap in a damp towel.

Corn - Leave unhusked in an open container if not eating the day it's picked!

Cucumbers - Can be left out in a cool room for a day or two. Otherwise, wrap in a moist towel in the fridge.

Green beans - They like humidity, but not being wet. Drape a damp cloth over them in an open or loosely closed container.

Lettuce - Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Potatoes - Store in a box or paper bag in a cool, dark, dry place.

Spinach - Loves to stay cold. Store loose in an open container in the crisper.

Sweet potatoes - Do not like the cold; never refrigerate. Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.

Tomatoes - Never refrigerate. To hasten ripening, place in paper bag with an apple. Don't store near bananas.

Winter squash - Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.

Zucchini - Can do okay if left out on a cool counter. For longer storage, wrap in cloth and refrigerate.

Another tip for less waste is to buy produce that will be consumed within five days. And, don't forget to recycle the plastic bags you do use. Return clean, dry bags to the grocery store and place in appropriate bin.

Additional tips for storing fruits and vegetables not mentioned above can be found at www.ecologycenter.org/factsheets -- "How-To: Store Fruits and Vegetables: Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic."

For more information about Keep Our Mountains Beautiful (K.O.M.B.) or to become a supporting member, contact Sandee Scott, (559) 760-1058.

For more information about Keep Our Mountains Beautiful (K.O.M.B.) or to become a supporting member, contact Sandee Scott, (559) 760-1058.

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