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How to store fruit and vegetables to keep them fresher for longer

Apples – Need a cool, frost-free environment, where they can last for weeks, even months in winter. A garage or garden shed is perfect, but a dark cool cupboard or drawer will do.

Bananas – Store in a cool place but not the refrigerator. Store bananas separately from the rest of your fruit as they emit a gas that quickens the ripening process, unless you want to ripen those hard pears.

CucumbersFor the best flavour and the most vitamins keep the cucumber at the top of the fridge. The top shelf is the warmest part of your fridge, eliminating the chance of ice crystals forming within the cucumber. Cucumbers have a lot of seeds and moisture inside and when ice crystals form and then dissolve again the cucumber becomes soggy, it also becomes bitter, limp, and flavourless.

Lettuce – Keep in the original packaging and refrigerate. Don't store lettuce with apples, pears or bananas - all these produce ethylene gas, which makes brown spots form on the leaves. Put the lettuce in a bag in the salad drawer and don't wash it more than an hour or two before eating. Whole wilted lettuce can be revived with a soak, root end up, in really cold water.

Mushrooms – For longer life keep mushrooms in the paper bags provided by the grocer and put in the fridge for freshness.

Onions – Store in a cool, dark and dry place. The old idea of storing onions hung from a plait in the kitchen looks nice, but the humidity and heat in a modern kitchen will cause the onions to rot too quickly. Choose a cool, sheltered, shady place (a shed or garage is perfect) and store in string bags, or a dark, cool drawer or cupboard will do.

Oranges – To keep them at their juiciest store oranges at room temperature where they should keep well for close to two weeks. Alternatively, store unwrapped in the refrigerator. When buying navel oranges, select those with small sized navels as larger navels indicate that they were overripe when picked.

Peppers – Store peppers in the fridge and if you keep them in a loosely tied plastic bag or the pack it was bought in they will stay fresher for longer.

Potatoes – Unlike other root crops, potatoes should preferably be stored above 5°C, as below that the starch turns into sugars, which can give them a sweet taste. The optimum temperature range is between 5 and 10° C.
The most important point when storing potatoes is to exclude light. Prolonged exposure to light will cause greening of the potato. Green potatoes are poisonous as it indicates that solanine, an alkaloid, has been formed. Partially green potatoes are still edible – just cut off the affected parts.
You can store potatoes in paper sacks but leave the neck slightly open to allow excess moisture to escape. For this reason, do not use plastic bags under any circumstances.

Strawberries – Keep in the original packaging and refrigerate. Take them out of the fridge an hour before eating, so that they're at room temperature when served. Never wash before refrigerating them, as they'll go soggy. Eat within a couple of days of buying or picking.

Tomatoes – Because tomatoes of all kinds are usually picked and sold before they are fully ripe, they should not be stored in the refrigerator but, instead, placed in a paper bag, along with a ripe tomato, and left at room temperature where they will keep for two to three days.
This is because the enzyme which tells the fruit to ripen will not work below 12°C, so the fruit remains unripe in the fridge.
Even when ripe, tomatoes should be stored in a fruit bowl, because if they are kept in the fridge they tend to lose their flavour.

Ginger – Fresh ginger should be stored in a paper bag in the salad drawer of the refrigerator, where it will keep for weeks.

Garlic – Store in a warm dry place. Cold conditions replicate winter and the garlic will try to sprout, so encourage it to sleep.

Bagged Salad – Keep salad in a paper bag, or in a plastic bag with a strip of kitchen roll. - keeps it moist, but not soggy!

Facts/Tips

  • Once ripe, put fruit in the fridge to make it last longer.
  • Cucumbers, carrots and root vegetables need to be kept hydrated. If yours are looking a bit shrivelled stick them in a bowl of water in the fridge. Carrot sticks can last for up to a week like this.
  • Mouldy vegetables can quicken the pace at which foods around them go off. Make sure you remove mouldy food from fresh food and clean out your refrigerator drawers regularly.
  • Unused vegetables can be steamed, blended and then frozen in an ice cube tray to use in sauces and soups at a later date.

 

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