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Candice Esterhuyse

May 22, 2023

How to keep fresh produce fresh

Pack it right

Fruit and veg belong in that bottom drawer in the fridge – except for onions, potatoes, mushrooms, whole pineapple and bananas (we’ll get to those later). Lettuce, leaves and other fresh veg do best in a resealable container with a piece of paper towel on the bottom of it. The paper towel absorbs moisture and keeps veggies crisper.

Vegetable distancing

Fresh produce emits a ripening gas called ‘ethylene’ as it starts to spoil, which can cause nearby produce to ripen and spoil faster, too. *Science.* For this reason, you should make sure there’s enough space in your fridge for air to circulate around all your items. No stockpiling, please.

Who goes with who

Some food items release more or less of this ripening gas, so take note of which fruit and veg are friends, and who need to be kept apart. Fridge-packing Tetris just got put on hard mode.

Potatoes + onions = potatoes prone to spoiling or sprouting

Potatoes + apples = potatoes stay fresher for longer

Apples + berries = berries spoil faster

Bananas + anyone = bad idea. Sorry bananas. These need to be kept away from the rest because as one of the biggest emitters of ripening gas, bananas will cause any nearby produce to spoil. You can, however, use this to your advantage – put a hard avo (just one at a time, unless you plan to use them all right away) near a bunch of bananas and it’ll ripen super-fast.

A herby bouquet

Herbs are the flowers of cooking. They add a fresh pop of colour and flavour to meals, and like flowers, you should trim the stems of your parsley, basil or mint, then pop them in a glass or jar of water. Pop it in the fridge, and voila. Their leaves will stay fresh, and they might even sprout some roots for you.

Pickle it up or simmer it down

Sugar, salt, white wine vinegar. That’s all it takes to pickle onions, radishes, cucumber, or any other veg you like. Check out the Bon Apetit quick-pickle guide here. You can also simmer apples or berries that are past their prime and use to flavour oats or granola.

Make friends with your freezer

You probably already know which veggies freeze well and which don’t. What you might not have thought of is freezing peeled ginger – it’ll last longer and is easier to grate from frozen. Whenever you do freeze something, add a label that states what it is and the date you made it.

Spark joy

Next time you’re Marie Kondo-ing, make sure to include your fridge and freezer. It goes without saying that your fresh produce will do better in an environment that is free from mould or bacteria, so scrub up and wipe down with a solution of vinegar and water.

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