Protect your produce

PHOTO: Protect your produce

Fresh fruit and vegetables can shrivel and rot in just a few days if you do not store them well.

To keep your produce fresher for longer, remember these points:

Fruit and vegetables do not store well together. Many fruits produce ethylene gas, which speeds spoilage.

Vegetables need to breathe. Poke holes in the plastic bags you store them in, or keep them in reuseable mesh bags. Do not pack veggies tightly together as they need air circulation.

Do not wash fruit and vegetables until you are ready to use them. Doing so makes them more likely to spoil, as dampness encourages bacteria growth, said food research scientist Amanda Deering of Purdue University in the United States.


1. Garlic: Store at room temperature in an open container to allow air to circulate. Do not remove the cloves' protective papery husk until you are ready to use them. And it is fine to store garlic next to onions.

2. Onions: Find a (clean) pantyhose. Put the onions into each leg, tying knots between each one. Hang them up at room temperature. If that does not appeal to you, onions can be stored like garlic at room temperature on a countertop.

Do not put them in the refrigerator as the humidity and cold temperature will cause onions to turn mushy. Storing them away from light prevents them from becoming bitter.

3. Potatoes: Keep them in a dark and cool place, but do not refrigerate them. The cold, damp air in the refrigerator causes their starches to turn into sugars, which can affect the taste and texture.

Store them in a paper bag - which is more breathable than plastic. Keep them away from onions or fruit that exude ethylene gas, such as apples, which can make your spuds sprout.

4. Carrots: First, trim off any green tops; they draw out moisture and cause carrots to go limp quickly. Trimmed, unpeeled carrots can be refrigerated in an unsealed ziplock bag in the vegetable drawer for about two weeks.

Trimmed carrots (such as baby-cut carrots or carrot sticks) will last longer when kept submerged in a tightly covered container filled with water. Change the water frequently.

5. Bananas: Break up the bunch, as charming as it might look. Then wrap each stem in plastic wrap. That will reduce the emission of ethylene gas and the bananas will ripen more slowly.

Once a banana reaches the desired amount of ripeness, you can refrigerate it; the cold will keep it from ripening further.

This article was first published on Nov 06, 2014.
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