That sad bag of lettuce, the overripe banana and the furry strawberries you forgot about? If these sound familiar you might be feeling guilty about chucking fruit and veg that you haven’t managed to eat in time. There is no point dwelling on food waste – the money lost and the meals that could have been – now is a great time to take action and look at how to reduce what your family throws away.
Fresh fruit and veg are some of the things we all find ourselves chucking out most frequently. The good intentions of stocking up on lots of vitamin-packed produce at the start of the week don’t always go to plan, or if you order online, you might find yourself battling to keep up with the best before dates. So we have sought the help of refrigeration experts Fisher & Paykel to share our top tips for keeping all those lovely vegetables and fruits fresh for as long as you can. From knowing how to store them correctly, to getting the most out of them before they turn, here is everything you need to know.
1. Keep ethylene rich produce separately
Some fruits and vegetables give off a gas called ethylene that accelerates ripening. Apples, bananas, potatoes and tomatoes are all ethylene rich and will need to be kept apart from vegetables that you don’t want to ripen too quickly. Lots of berries, kiwi fruit, cucumbers, peppers and salad leaves are very sensitive to ethylene so are best kept separate. You might want to store them in different veg trays to slow the ripening process – that is unless you want to speed it up, which is common with avocados.
2. Use your crisper drawer
Fresh produce is also very sensitive to temperature and humidity. You can control this by choosing the right part of the fridge for their storage. Use the crisper bins in your fridge to regulate humidity, keeping your veg fresh and crunchy. If there are no crisper bins you can keep salad leaves in a lidded container with a piece of damp kitchen towel to keep humidity high. If water starts to pool in the container, drain it and crack the lid to balance the humidity levels. Fruit is fine outside the crisper bin – allow them plenty of ventilation for optimum freshness.
3. Check the temperature
Fruit and vegetables can be damaged by being too cold. Some are very temperature sensitive so check how cool they like it. Most of us keep bananas, apples and oranges out of the fridge which is fine, but to keep them for longer – especially in warm weather – you can put them in the fridge. They like temperatures between 5–12°C which is warmer than you will want your fridge for meat and fish, so use the warmer part of the fridge. This is made much easier if you have a fridge with variable temperature zones of course – see Fisher & Paykel’s range.
- Check our guide to cooking and storing your food at the right temperature
4. Rinse and dry berries
Berries tend to go off very quickly and are vulnerable to mould. To extend their lifespan you can rinse them in a mix of one part white vinegar to four parts water to kill any mould spores. Dry thoroughly before storing in the fridge in an airtight container to protect them.
- Read our fridge and freezer storage hacks to make each shop go further
5. Storing fresh herbs
Fresh herbs will stay fresh for much longer if you stand their stalks in water. Put an inch or two of water in a jam jar and put the herbs in – taking care to keep the leaves above water level. Put a reusable clear bag over the top to control humidity then stand safely in the door of your fridge or somewhere they have room. If you don’t have space to do this you can wrap damp kitchen towel or a cloth around the base of the stalks and store them lying in a plastic container or dish.
If you have bought too many fresh herbs you can wash, dry and chop them before storing in freezer bags or containers for later.
6. Keep produce dry
Water is another thing that can accelerate decay of fruit and veg. Dry damp produce when you get it home, before putting it away. A well organised fridge will help you keep everything neat and prevent water from pooling around vegetables in storage so look for one with the best storage solutions.
About Fisher & Paykel
Since 1934, Fisher & Paykel has established itself for its high-end appliance design, engineered with real people in mind. All products are designed to be adaptable, functional, durable and respect the planet. From dishwashers, to ovens, to hobs and chilling appliances, you can find everything you need for the modern family kitchen at Fisher & Paykel.