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How to Keep Produce Fresher and Longer!

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2024
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
How to keep produce fresher and longer!

If you’re anything like me, you dislike food waste. Unfortunately, it can happen to the best of us. Here are some inspiring ideas to reduce food waste, save money, and prolong the life of produce and vegetables.

Five ways to keep produce fresher and longer:

  • Only buy what you need and use – It’s tempting to buy large bags of mandarin oranges, big bunches of bananas, and giant bags of apples. Truth be told, in bulk buying, most people end up wasting what they cannot eat. That is because the shelf life of the foods is shorter than the time periods in which they may optimally or safely be consumed. Here are easy options; one may continue to buy the larger bags and share them with friends and family or simply cut back on the amounts of fruits and vegetables purchased at one time. The latter can be achieved by purchasing smaller quantities or shopping more often to continually have the freshest produce on hand.
  • Learn to identify what’s fresh – Sometimes, we may make the mistake of choosing iffy fresh fruits and vegetables that turn quickly. Before shopping, write your grocery list and research how to find the freshest of each fruit and vegetable on your list. For instance, choose leafy greens that are crisp and bright in color. They should also have a pleasant yet faint earthy scent. Buying potatoes? Purchase ones that are firm, smooth and free of blemishes, bearing no dark spots or outward signs of sprouting. Ripe watermelon should have a firm rind that doesn’t give way to pressure. Avoid soft ones that easily scratch that indicate it’s been around a while. Whenever possible, buy locally grown foods as imported ones use up much of their shelf life during shipping.
  • Use the best food storage methods. Simply storing fresh-picked foods the right way can extend their shelf-life. For example, one may buy prewashed lettuce. When not eating the whole packet, put a paper towel inside the open container on top of the greens. Then shut it and store it upside down in the fridge. Do check it periodically and change the paper towel out as needed. Always place lettuce in its own refrigerator drawer. Romaine does particularly well when individual heads are wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the fridge. Understand that foods like tomatoes have individual freshness requirements. For instance, tomatoes do better at room temperature (out of heat) as refrigeration can turn them mushy. Similarly, avocados do better out in the open, which gives them time to ripen. Blueberries, however, store well in the refrigerator. But, to increase longevity, line the berry container with a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Mushrooms also have unique care requirements. They are best stored whole and unwashed in a brown paper bag lined with paper towels. Clean them just before use.
  • Incorporate fruits and veggies into meals & desserts – Bought too many carrots? Incorporate them and their greens into soups and stews. Or bake a carrot cake to use them up. Likewise, herbs may be added to delicious sauces, such as homemade pesto or tomato sauce. Fruits like bananas and berries can be made into ice pops, fruit whips, or smoothies, then frozen. And things like raspberries, cranberries, lemon or lime zests, or mint leaves can be added to ice cube trays and used to flavor drinks. The key is to cleverly use up produce before it has a chance to go funky.
  • Freeze, jar, and can foods. Note that freezing foods makes out-of-season produce available for year-round enjoyment. And it obviously extends shelf-life. Take ginger, for example. One may freeze excess ginger by peeling it and wrapping it tightly in a freezer storage bag. Similarly, blanched or unblanched summer corn freezes well off the cob. Simply use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels. Use freezer bags with tight closures and always mark what’s inside plus the date it is frozen. Freezing might not be ideal for all foods, but jarring and canning are excellent alternatives. For example, fresh herbs can be dried and placed in a spice jar, and tomatoes can be canned.

Immense benefits!

We hope you’ve gained inspiration from this article featuring five ways to keep produce fresher and longer. If you’re anything like me, you dislike food waste. By shopping wisely, identifying what’s freshest, using the best storage methods, incorporating produce into meals, and by freezing, jarring, and canning, you can positively reduce food waste, save money, and prolong the life of your produce. A total win!

If you enjoyed this article, and like foods and food crafting, check out AMAC’s article on Food crafting with grandkids.

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