One of the most common questions we get from our customers when they come into the store is "Is there something I can use instead of plastic for taking home my fruits and veggies?" and while the options we have in store are great for transport, sometimes our fruits and veggies need a little more specialized care to stay fresh without plastic at home. We have gathered some reliable information about not only how to prep produce for storage, but what temperatures are best, and what options there are for storage.
Here are a few tips we've gathered to address some of the most common questions we hear from our customers:
- Remove any elastics around your veggies when you get home to prevent bruising.
Lots of veggies don't thrive in airtight containers. Don't forget to double check! In particular, many people think lettuce will last longest in airtight plastic containers. While removing the air will help prevent browning at the edges due to oxidization, a bit of airflow and moisture will actually help keep your lettuce fresh and crisp. And the more access to airflow the lettuce has, the less likely it will be to develop stale, damp flavours due to poor respiration.
If possible, keep your crisper at least half full of your favorite leafy greens to keep the humidity at optimal levels.
- Pay close attention to the vegetable you're storing together! Certain produce will release more ethylene gas than others, and some types of fruits and veggies are more sensitive to it. This guide from the University of Tennessee breaks many common veggies into categories and can help you keep produce with opposing storage needs separate from each other!
- Tomatoes really don't need to be refrigerated most of the time and often the cold temperatures can cause damage to the flesh of the tomatoes.
- Berries are fragile and don't love extra moisture so they should only be washed just before being eaten. A paper bag is also a great option for storing berries, as it will allow you to monitor the moisture and balance the amount of airflow the berries get.
Remember to cut the tops off your root veggies (carrots, beets, yams, radishes, etc.) to keep the moisture inside, and not wasted on the greens. Leaving them in a paper bag is always recommended, in the fridge.
Taking the cores out of more sturdy greens (iceberg lettuce, etc.) can help the leaves stay crisp and keep from browning or wilting longer.
Have some avocados or pears that are a little under-ripe? Leave them in a paper bag and add an apple to help speed the process! Most other fruits are fine to be stored on a counter until they're ripe and then can be transferred into the fridge to prolong their life.
If you're wondering what parts of your fridge will best house the various produce you bring home, check the infographic below!
Many refrigerators average a temperature of about 40°F, but the temperature can vary depending on model, so spend a little time with yours and see where the best spots are for certain produce. Also, consider humidity. The more veggies you have to store, the higher the relative humidity of the compartments will be and that can help elongate the life of lots of common fruits and veggies.
If you're looking for a specific vegetable not mentioned here, the Berkeley Farmer's Market has put together a great guide that breaks down a ton of the most common fruits and veggies by storage needs. The University of Maine has also put together a very thorough guide to the best storage temperatures for a very long list of fruits and veggies.
We have lots of options in store for both transport and storage. Consider breathable (and washable) cotton bags like one from CredoBags to store things that need to breathe. Our CareBags have a bit of stretch to them and are great for getting home lots of produce and their mesh helps the release of ethylene gas. You can also take a look at ChicoBags! Their three pack of bags come together with a little carry case, and each one is tailored to a specific kind of fruit or veggie. They have a cotton, a mesh, and a bag made from recycled plastic which can help keep moisture locked in when necessary!
What are your most challenging storage needs? Have you tried using reusable produce bags for transport or storage? Any tips and tricks you've collected for transporting and storing your produce? Let us know in the comments below or stop by the store and let us take you through the options!