Keep It Fresh

Welcome to our guide on preserving the freshness of your fruits and vegetables! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a newbie in the kitchen, keeping your produce fresh and vibrant can sometimes be a challenge. However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can extend the life of your fruits and veggies, reduce waste, and enjoy their flavors and nutrients to the fullest. Let’s dive in!

  1. Storage Matters:
    • Fridge or Counter? Some fruits and vegetables do better on the countertop, while others prefer the cool environment of the fridge. For example, tomatoes, avocados, and bananas are best kept on the counter, while leafy greens, berries, and most root vegetables should be refrigerated.
    • Separate Ethylene Producers: Ethylene is a natural gas produced by certain fruits like apples, bananas, and tomatoes, which can accelerate ripening and spoilage in other produce. Store ethylene-producing fruits separately or in a designated ethylene-proof container to prevent them from affecting other items.
  2. Proper Packaging:
    • Ventilated Containers: Use breathable containers or perforated plastic bags for storing vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and cucumbers. This allows for proper airflow, reducing moisture buildup and prolonging freshness.
    • Avoid Plastic Bags: While convenient, sealing fruits and vegetables in plastic bags can trap moisture and promote rot. Opt for reusable mesh bags or eco-friendly alternatives for storing produce.
  3. Temperature and Humidity Control:
    • Crisper Drawers: Most refrigerators come with crisper drawers that allow you to adjust humidity levels. Use high humidity settings for leafy greens and low humidity for fruits like apples and pears.
    • Avoid Cold Injury: Some fruits, such as citrus fruits and tropical varieties like bananas and pineapples, are sensitive to cold temperatures. Keep them at room temperature to prevent chilling injury.
  4. Preparation Techniques:
    • Washing Before Storage: While it’s tempting to wash all your fruits and vegetables as soon as you get home, excess moisture can promote spoilage. Instead, wait to wash produce until just before use.
    • Trimming and Cutting: Remove any bruised or damaged parts from fruits and vegetables before storing them. Cutting or slicing produce exposes more surface area to air and accelerates spoilage, so it’s best to keep them whole whenever possible.
  5. Reviving and Repurposing:
    • Reviving Wilted Greens: If your leafy greens have started to wilt, revive them by soaking them in ice water for a few minutes. This crispens them up and makes them more palatable.
    • Turning Overripe Fruit into Something Delicious: Don’t let overripe fruit go to waste! Use them in smoothies, baked goods, or homemade jams and sauces. Overripe bananas, for example, are perfect for banana bread.

With these simple strategies, you can extend the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables and minimize food waste. By paying attention to storage conditions, proper packaging, and preparation techniques, you’ll ensure that your produce stays fresh, vibrant, and full of flavor for as long as possible. Want more tips on keeping it fresh? Check out the videos below from our UF/IFAS Extension Keep It Fresh series:

Keep It Fresh: Romaine Lettuce

Keep It Fresh: Bell Peppers

Interested in learning more? Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for tips, tricks, and upcoming classes!


Hillary Ayers, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for UF/IFAS Extension Orange County
Posted: March 25, 2024

Category: Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS Extension, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Cooking, Family And Consumer Sciences, Food Preservation, Food Waste Prevention, Fruits And Vegetables, Nutrition, Ocextension, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County

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