Storing produce is one of the best ways to save money. It allows you to buy produce when it’s in season, and thus less expensive. Plus, you can stock up on produce during sales. On top of that, you can help the environment by buying locally, since you’re more free to buy what’s in season and store it for later. There’s really no reason to avoid storing produce.
Yet storing produce can be a little tricky. There’s nothing worse than thinking you have a stockpile of veggies in the freezer, only to realize they’ve become horribly freezer burned. So below are some common produce storage mistakes and how to fix them.
Storing the wrong food together
It’s easy to just toss foods into the fridge or freezer without thinking about where they're going. But putting certain foods close to each other actually jeopardizes their integrity. The first rule of thumb is to make sure you’re keeping your strongly flavored foods separate from other foods. That goes in particular for partial garlic cloves or cut onions, as their flavor can easily seep into other foods.
It’s doesn’t stop with just your strongly flavored foods, though. Letting apples sit next to other fruit can make them ripen too fast, since apples emit ethylene gas, which makes produce ripen faster. Actually, a lot of fruits do this, so keep your fruit separated and away from veggies in particular. Keep a crisper area for veggies, and one for fruit, and separate types of fruit by loose bags.
Wrapping vegetables too tightly
Another common issue is wrapping up vegetables because it’s easy to assume a tightly wrapped vegetable is a safe vegetable. But living things need room to breathe. Mesh bags are perfect for keeping your veggies in the fridge.
Putting the wrong food in the fridge
It’s also easy to toss tomatoes in the fridge, thinking they’ll keep longer. That actually degrades their texture and makes them loose flavor. Keep tomatoes on the counter with the topside down to protect the stem area, which tends to ripen the quickest. And do not keep them in plastic bags.
Also, potatoes do not belong in the fridge, since that can make them quickly go bad. Keep potatoes in a cool, dark area.
Washing food too soon
It’s common knowledge that you need to wash your produce to get rid of any dirt or possible chemicals. If you’re storing produce, don’t be too quick to wash them. That dampness can lead to earlier spoiling of food. Store your produce, and then make sure to wash your fruits or vegetables right before you eat them.
Leaving the wrong food out on the counter
Fact of life: avocados need to be refrigerated as soon as they’ve reached the perfect ripeness. After that, they just break down too quickly if they’re not chilled.
Herbs are commonly left on the counter, but unless your kitchen is fairly cool, put herbs in the fridge loose. Don’t leave them in bags, which can accelerate moisture, leading to that nasty slimy greens situation.
Throwing veggies in the freezer
If you want to freeze fresh vegetables, one tip is to blanch them before you freeze them to maintain integrity. Blanching veggies can stop damaging enzymes in their tracks and can clean the veggies. When freezing, you’ll want to tightly pack the veggies to reduce the chance of freezer burn. Check out our favorite freezer cooking recipes!