Did you know you shouldn’t keep watermelon in the fridge? Or that avocados need to be ripened at room temperature before being chilled? We’re all about getting as much fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet as possible, but it can be tricky knowing just where they need to be stored, so here’s a handy guide to keeping food fresh.
When storing food we not only want to make it last as long as possible, but we want to it to taste great too.
The University of California has cast an expert eye over the storage of fruit and vegetables and come up with the best way to to store the most popular, for optimal flavour and freshness.
And remember you can always use fruit that is a little overripe in our delicious Healthy Mummy Smoothies! Just freeze the fruit cut up in chunks – this works really well with bananas.
Store these fruits in the fridge:
- Apples (after seven days at room temperature)
- Asian pears (nashi)
- Cut fruits
Store these vegetables in the fridge:
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Cut vegetables
- Green onions
- Herbs (not basil)
- Leafy vegetables
Ripen these at room temperature, then store in the fridge:
- Kiwi fruit
Store these fruits at room temperature:
- Apples (for up to seven days, then put them in the fridge)
Store these vegetables at room temperature:
- Basil (in water)
- Dry onions
- Sweet potatoes
Garlic, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes should be stored in a well ventilated area in the pantry. Cucumbers, eggplant and peppers can be kept in the fridge up to three days if they are used soon after you take them out of the fridge.
Why is food storage important?
Whether you grow it yourself or buy your fresh produce, you need to know how to keep your fruit and veg tasting good for as long as possible.
Here are some great examples:
- If bananas are kept in the fridge, the skin goes black and they don’t become sweet.
- Sweet potatoes take on an unpleasant flavour and develop a hard core if they’re cooked after being kept in the fridge.
- Watermelons will lose their flavour and beautiful red colour if they’re kept in the fridge for more than three days.
- Tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe won’t turn red in the fridge. They need to be at room temperature, where they’ll also keep their flavour.
- Some produce gain sugar and get softer at room temperature, like Bartlett pears. They can then be put in the fridge for up to three days without losing their flavour.
How to store food at room temperature
Fruit and veg that can be stored at room temperature needs to be out of direct sunlight. To prevent moisture loss you can put the produce into a vented plastic bowl or a plastic bag with holes in it.
Don’t put any produce in sealed bags because this will just slow down the ripening process and help hasted the spoiling process.
If you want to ripen fruit at room temperature you can try putting a ripe apple with every five-to-seven pieces of fruit you want ripened (store everything in a bowl or paper bag).
Apples give off ethylene which helps speed up ripening – however don’t use Granny Smith or Fuji apples as neither of these produce much ethylene.
Storing food in the fridge
Produce that needs to be kept cold should be in perforated plastic bags (put about 20 pin holes into them), in the fruit and veg drawers of your fridge.
Don’t store fruit and vegetables together so that the ethylene isn’t causing havoc, and use it as quick as you can (within a few days), because it will lose its freshness and flavour within a few days.
Make sure you take a look at our guide to listeria and proper food storage.
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