How To Max Out The Shelf Life Of Fruit And Vegetables

Save money and avoid food waste with these simple storage rules.

Grocery basket - Shelf life of fruit and vegetables

Photo, Erik Putz.

The price of produce rises further every year, especially in late fall when the local growing season drops off. But there’s an easy way to avoid food waste and save money — proper food storage. To extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables, it’s as simple as separating out the produce meant to be left out on the counter, kept in a cellar (or dark, cool drawer) or tucked away in the crisper. It will last longer and taste better as a result.

Here are five important things to remember the next time you’re unpacking the groceries:

1. Keep it all under wraps.
Remove rubber bands or metallic ties from vegetables before storing, and wrap in paper towel (to absorb the moisture that can speed up spoilage).

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2. A little dirt doesn’t hurt.
Refrigerate produce unwashed (again, moisture is the enemy!), and allow for air flow (no more cramming into drawers).

3. Keep everything separated.
High ethylene levels expelled from fruit can cause vegetables to spoil to quickly. (Bananas and tomatoes are big offenders in this category.)

4. Find a cool, dry place for non-refrigerated produce
Onions, potatoes, garlic and squash should be stored out of the fridge (the starches in potatoes turn to sugar in the fridge, which affects the flavour and how they cook).

5. Some things should just be left out on the counter.
Anything that continues to ripen, such as avocado, tomato, mango, melon, and apple, should be kept out on the countertop.

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