Fresh fruit and vegetables are some of the best warm weather treats, but their pleasures can be fleeting. How often have you reached for the container of berries, only to discover they’ve gone moldy, or planned to cook greens, but found that they’re now badly wilted?
A little bit of preparation when you get your fruits and veggies home from the market can help keep them in great shape, and even extend the length of time they stay fresh. By giving yourself longer to eat up all those goodies, you’ll likely decrease food waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill, where they could then contribute to greenhouse gas production. Use these tips so that you can enjoy the season’s bounty a little bit longer!
Make a bouquet. Store asparagus and cut herbs in a glass of water or even a vase, on a shelf in your refrigerator. You can keep them even fresher by loosely wrapping the tops with damp paper towels. This method also works for other stem veggies, such as rhubarb, chard, or kale.
Bag your greens. Wash lettuce leaves by dipping them into cold water, then thoroughly dry them by “spinning” them with a salad spinner. Wrap the dried leaves loosely in paper towels and place them in a plastic zip-top bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. The crisper drawer’s vents allow air circulation that will keep greens crisp. Like most plastic sandwich bags, these can be recycled at thousands of retail locations near you, after being cleaned and dried.
DIY frozen berries. Have a surplus of berries from a berry picking expedition? Freeze them so you can use them even beyond summer! Arrange stemmed, unwashed berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries, on a baking sheet. Freeze them until they’re frozen solid, then transfer them to a freezer bag. Press as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing to minimize freezer burn. The berries will keep for months, and can be used thawed or frozen (rinse them off first!) for smoothies, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, or in baked goods. With this method, berries freeze individually as opposed to a big solid clump, so you’ll be able to take out just what you need.
Give them a bath. If you’d rather keep your berries fresh for eating, foodie site The Kitchn suggests washing them in a diluted vinegar bath, drying them well in a salad spinner, and storing them in a closed container lined with paper towels.
Prep it for snacking. You’re less likely to let produce languish if it’s easy to grab and go. When you bring a watermelon home from the store, cut it up right away into bite-sized cubes and put it in a reusable container so that it’ll be easy to snack on whenever you like. The same goes for raw veggies: wash them and peel if needed, and cut veggies like carrots and celery into sticks, and broccoli into individual florets, and store them in a handy container. Grab a handful when mid-afternoon hunger hits.
Keep the good from the bad. That expression about one bad apple is apt. If you have a berry that’s molding, an apple that’s badly bruised, or any piece of produce that is showing signs of deterioration, eat it right away. If it isn’t edible, compost it. Mold and rot tends to spread among fruits and vegetables that are sharing the same space.