Throw that plastic packaging away! How to store fruit, vegetables and herbs properly
Ditch the bag they came in and learn how to keep your fruit, veggies and herbs fresher for longer.
Do all your fruits, vegetables and herbs seem to go off far too quickly? You could be storing them wrong.
“Fruits and vegetables can be quite costly. Therefore, it is important to make sure that we select the best quality and prepare them safely,” says Professor Gerrie du Rand, a consumer scientist at the University of Pretoria in the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences.
Du Rand suggests the following for food safety:
- Buy produce that does not look damaged or bruised.
- Pre-cut fruits and vegetables should be kept cool and refrigerated ASAP.
- Keep your fruits and vegetables separate from other raw food products when shopping to prevent cross-contamination.
- Wash your hands, use clean kitchen utensils, and make sure that all surfaces have been wiped down before any preparation of fruit and veggies.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting or cooking.
- Do not use soap, bleach or any detergents.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised parts before preparing, cooking or eating.
- Always dry before storing.
- Store fruits and vegetables separately from any raw meats or other animal products.
- Store fruit and veggies in the fridge ASAP after preparing or cooking them.
Take fruit and veggies out of the plastic packaging
Even if it came in a perforated plastic bag, they’re not optimal for storage. Some veggies need air while some fruit needs to be sealed in an airtight bag or container.
Here’s how to store your fruits, vegetables and herbs:
In a cool, dry place:
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes – and they should be kept away from onions as the gasses that onions emit will make them ripen faster.
- Mushrooms – and they should only be washed just before use.
- Butternut and other squashes.
In the fridge:
- Strawberries, and most other berries, should be stored in an airtight container lined with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture.
- Halved, cut or mashed avo should be sprinkled with some lemon juice to stop it browning and then stored in an airtight container. Keeping the pit in the avo prevents it from browning as well. Whole avocados should be kept at room temperature until ripe and then stored in the fridge for up to five days.
- Store apples in the fridge – they’ll soften faster at room temperature.
- Asparagus should be wrapped with a moist paper towel and kept in the fridge.
- Beets, turnips, carrots, parsnips and ginger will do fine in the vegetable drawer. Remove their green, leafy bits first, though, as they pull moisture from the vegetable. You can either compost those or use them in soups.
- Cabbage can be kept whole in the vegetable drawer, but put in a container or wrap with clingfilm once cut. The same goes for cauliflower and broccoli.
- Leafy greens like kale and rocket can be kept in an airtight container.
At room temperature:
- Keep garlic cloves and onions in a well-ventilated area.
- Your tomatoes don’t belong in the fridge.
- You can ripen mangoes, plums, peaches and pears in a brown paper bag and then refrigerate.
- All kinds of cucumber and aubergine.
- Whole melons. Spanspek can be stored at room temperature, but it will ripen quickly.
- Keep citrus fruit on the counter.
- Peaches and plums should be stored at room temperature until ripe.
What about herbs?
Herbs can be stored in the fridge, in a zip-top bag, wrapped in a damp paper towel, or on the counter – stems down, in a jar of water at room temperature. Basil is best left out of the fridge and used as quickly as possible.
Follow these tips and tricks to make your fruit and vegetables last longer and keep your family safe.