The healthier food is, the shorter its shelf life is. This is because there are zero preservatives, chemicals, or artificial additives. If you’re getting worried about where and how to store all your fresh produce, there are lots of ways to keep it fresh for longer. With these tips and tricks on how to keep your vegetables and fruits, you’ll not only save time, energy, and money — but you’ll be feeding your body more nutritious and healthy food!
At Enlighten, we make it our mission to help you have brighter days ahead. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to keep and eat more fruits and vegetables, which will keep you strong and energized!
1. Store coffee beans in the freezer.
Excess coffee beans that you don’t use in the next few weeks will stay fresh in a freezer as long as you keep them in an airtight container. Just remember to let the frozen beans thaw completely before opening the container.
2. Add lemon juice to sliced apples.
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“Add a little bit of lemon juice to sliced apples to keep them from turning brown. (These apples were sliced yesterday.)” carbearnara / Reddit
3. Rinse strawberries in vinegar.
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Storing fresh strawberries, even in the refrigerator, usually makes them end up turning soft and getting grey and moldy. This is due to the invisible bacteria and residue that can be found inside and around these berries.
To clean your strawberries and make them last for weeks, follow these steps:
- Mix 4 parts water with 1 part vinegar in a bowl.
- Soak your fresh strawberries in the water-vinegar solution for 5 minutes.
- Drain the berries in a colander and rinse with cool water.
- Dry the strawberries on a paper or cloth towel.
- Place the strawberries on a paper towel in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
4. Wrap leafy greens in paper.
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Greens, like lettuce, herbs, and spinach tend to bruise easily. Because they are fragile and have a high water content, they tend to wilt fast when they are exposed to air, heat, and humidity.
To keep your greens crisp and blemish free, do the following:
- Gently wash the leaves in cool water or use a vegetable cleanser.
- Pat them gently in between sheets of paper towels or place them in a salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Wrap the leaves up in a clean paper towel. Do this to them in batches. (Tip: Make each batch good for one portion, so you can just grab it for your next salad).
- Place them in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.
5. Keep mushrooms in paper bags.
Fresh mushrooms are made up of about 92% water, which is what makes them get wet and moldy pretty quickly. Keeping mushrooms in paper bags, rather than plastic, allows the paper to absorb any excess moisture and prevents the mushrooms from absorbing other liquids in their surroundings. At room temperature, mushrooms tend to shrivel up and lose their flavor, so it is best to keep them in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
6. Jar your peppers and cucumbers.
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Buying vegetables like cucumbers and peppers can sometimes be cheaper in bulk, versus purchasing them in smaller quantities. To make the most out of these bulk purchases, throw the vegetables in a glass jar with some brine. Not only will you end up with a tasty condiment, but they will stay fresh for months and still retain their crunch!
To make homemade pickles:
- Sterilize some jars in hot water and allow them to dry.
- Cut your vegetables (or you can use them whole too) and pack them into the clean bottles. You can also throw in your favorite blend of spices, fresh herbs, or peppercorns.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1 part vinegar with 1 part water and some salt and sugar to taste. Bring this mixture to a boil until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
- Pour the liquid mixture (a.k.a. brine or pickling solution) into the bottles until the veggies are covered.
- Cover the bottles tightly and allow them to cool completely before storing in the fridge. For the best results, allow the bottles to stay sealed for at least 48 hours before opening them.
7. Keep citrus fruit cold.
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Citrus fruits have porous skin, as you might notice with the many small holes that they have on their peels. These breathable air pockets make citrus fruits dry out very quickly when they are exposed to warm temperatures. To preserve your citrus fruits, place them in the refrigerator. Because it is easier to squeeze out the juice when your oranges and lemons are warm, bring them to room temperature before juicing them.
8. Use airtight containers for storage.
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Airtight containers, like sealed jars, Ziploc bags, and Tupperware containers are ideal for storing pre-cut and ready to eat fruit and veggies. These containers are able to keep away additional moisture and oxygen, which are factors for bacterial growth that are responsible for causing mold and rotting.
9. Store herbs in fat.
Fresh herbs tend to dry up very quickly because of their size and low water content. A great way to preserve your fresh herbs is by keeping them in oil or butter. Not only will this add extra flavor to your meals but it will lessen your food preparation time.
To make herbed oil:
- Chop up some fresh herbs and divide them among the holes of an ice tray.
- Pour in your favorite oil or melted butter to cover the herbs.
- Freeze the cubes until solid and use whenever needed.
To make herbed butter:
- Combine one stick of softened butter with a handful of chopped herbs.
- Mix thoroughly in a bowl, using a wooden spoon. Add some salt & pepper to taste.
- Place the butter mixture in a pot or jar, or you can roll it into a log with some plastic wrap.
- Chill until firm and use as needed. If you made the butter into a log, you can cut it in slices and place on top of steak, fish, or bread.
10. Add an acidic solution to your apples and pears.
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After cutting apples and pears, you may notice that they turn brown pretty easily. This is due to the oxidation reaction of their enzymes with the air — it makes the fruit become discolored. To avoid browning, spray or soak your apple and pear slices in a water and lemon or vinegar solution. This solution also helps make your fruit slices stay crisp and last longer.
To make the fruit soak:
- Combine 1 cup of water with 1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar.
- Place the mixture in a bowl and allow the apples and pears to soak for a minute. You can also put the solution into a spray bottle and spray it on to your fruit slices.
TIP: If you don’t like the taste and smell of vinegar, you can put your fruits in fresh orange juice instead.
11. Segregate your fruits and vegetables.
You might notice that when you store certain fruits and vegetables together, they may either ripen fast, rot quickly, or not change much at all. This is because fruits and vegetables contain different levels of a ripening hormone called ethylene. Ethylene is a gas that helps a fruit or a vegetable ripen faster than others. This is one of the reasons why you should not store apples and bananas together — apples are very sensitive to ethylene, while bananas produce lots of ethylene, which can make your apples spoil fast. The same thing will happen when you store tomatoes, onions, and potatoes together. It may be wise to familiarize yourself with the different groups of fruits and vegetables that you can store together.
12. Apply heat to raw vegetables.
Vegetables like carrots, corn, beans, and cauliflower can be kept crisp for longer when you apply a cooking method called blanching. Blanching is when you briefly cook food in steam or boil it in salted water, then rapidly cool the food down in ice cold water. This process improves the color, texture, and shelf life of your veggies and is the same method that is used in the packed vegetables that you find in the frozen food section of the supermarket.
To correctly blanch your vegetables:
- Bring about 4 liters of water to boil. Add a tablespoon of sea salt.
- Pre-wash and cut your vegetables before placing them in the water.
- Blanch your vegetables half a kilo (500 grams) at a time, to prevent the water from getting too cold.
- Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and beans need about 3 minutes in the boiling water.
- Strain your vegetables and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool them down for another 3 minutes.
- Dry the vegetables in a cloth or paper towel and store in Ziploc bags or air-tight containers. You can keep them in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for 3 months.
13. Store avocados in water.
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Similar to fruits like apples, bananas, and pears, avocado flesh has the tendency to brown once it’s been cut open. This is due to a process called oxidation. The browning occurs when the enzymes found in certain fruits are exposed to oxygen. Storing an avocado face-down in a container with some water and a spritz of something acidic, such as lemon juice or vinegar, can prevent it from browning too fast and will help keep the fruit fresh for longer.
Fruits & Vegetables You Should Store in the Fridge:
- Leafy Greens
- Ripe fruits and vegetables
- Fresh herbs
- Citrus fruits
Fruits & Vegetables You Should Leave at Room Temperature:
- Unripe fruits & vegetables (allow them to ripen first, that transfer them to the fridge)
Do you know of any other techniques for how to make your fruits and vegetables last longer?