Fruit And Veg Storage Chart For Improved Shelf Life

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Fruit And Veg Storage Chart For Improved Shelf Life
Fruit And Veg Storage Chart For Improved Shelf Life. Graphic –

Check out this useful fruit and vegetable storage chart to help you keep your fruit and vegetables fresh for as long as possible! Good storage techniques can make a huge difference to how much of your food ends up getting eaten and how much ends up getting thrown away. So it saves you money too! The “quick reference” chart will be of use to everyone… but for all the growers and raw foodists out there, read the rest of our guide as we have much extra information for storing your home grown produce!

This topic is actually a bigger deal than you might have thought: The US Environmental Protection Agency states that in 2012, an astonishing 36 million tons of food waste were generated in the USA, which accounted for more of the total waste than any other type! Of this amount, 95 percent ended up in landfill, which contributes to the production of methane, one of the worst greenhouse gases!

Fruit and vegetables form a large part of food wastage so finding out the best way to keep them fresh will save you money, protect the environment and avoid the disappointment that comes with having to throw food away. Eating the most perishable items first, and those that might have been bruised on the way home, will make a big difference so it may pay to think sometimes “What needs eating?” rather than “What do I want to eat?”

It has been discovered by scientists that the nutritional value of most fruit and vegetables decreases during storage – if you can’t eat everything super-fresh, then keeping them under the right conditions will help to reduce this loss and therefore benefit your health!

Soft fruits, such as berries and currants, are quite difficult to store for even a few days – they need to go straight into the refrigerator – make sure than you do not bruise the fruit before storing. With all fruits it helps to handle them carefully and not even to remove the stalks because any damage to the cells of a fruit will open the way for micro-organisms to move in. For this reason, buying whole plants and fruits means that they will last much longer than ready cut salad leaves or prepared fruit and vegetables.

Normally it is not recommended to wash soft fruit as it will spoil very quickly afterwards but there is an exception to this rule, which is to wash it in diluted vinegar – mix three parts water to one of vinegar (either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will do) – and then rinse in cold water. This will kill off nearly all of the bacteria and molds that can cause fast deterioration.

You have probably heard the expression “One bad apple spoils the bunch”, well it is true! Mold and rot will quickly spread from one fruit to spoil the surrounding ones, so it’s good to check regularly and remove any fruit that has started to go off.

Some fruits, such as bananas and red or yellow apples, will give off ethylene gas as they ripen – the ethylene acts as a ripening agent for other fruits so store them separately unless you need to speed up ripening. There are now special “hi tech” bags and containers available for extending shelf life that work by absorbing ethylene.

Winter squash, garlic and onions all need to be stored in a cool, dry place. Potatoes should always be kept in the dark to prevent them turning green, which would cause them to become toxic!

It is important for fresh foods to “breathe” so it is advisable to use perforated paper or plastic bags to allow some air to circulate – this is true except for salads which may dry out so it is better to use sealed bags, placing a paper towel inside to absorb excess moisture if necessary.

Did you know that when using only part of a cabbage, if you cut a portion from the top the remainder will last much longer than if you cut it from the side? Another thing I have noticed is that moisture keeps some leafy veg fresh longer and adding a little water to kale or chard always seems to make it last longer. Like cut flowers!

Another great tip is to cook surplus food that is otherwise going to spoil and to freeze it for the future. It is also possible to stew fruit that has started to go soft so that it can still be eaten. Improved food storage methods can also enable you to buy produce in bulk at a reduced price, especially when it is in season.

Further resources:

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