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According to experts, the most effective methods for storing fresh produce are no longer using fruit bowls.
Climate Environment World News

According to experts, the most effective methods for storing fresh produce are no longer using fruit bowls.


In the battle against food waste, which produces harmful greenhouse gases and adds to climate change, Thanh Truong, also known as the “fruit nerd,” is targeting an unexpected culprit: the modest fruit bowl.

According to Truong, a produce expert and author of a book on food storage tips, fruit bowls are outdated and not serving their purpose well.

This is because deep fruit bowls can contain ethylene, a natural gas that is released by ripening fruits. This gas can also cause nearby fruits to ripen faster. If there is a ripe peach at the bottom of the bowl, it can cause the other fruits to ripen quickly, leaving you with a limited amount of time to consume them all before they spoil.

According to Truong, it’s necessary to accept the use of several flat fruit platters spaced at least an arm’s length apart to increase airflow.

According to him, having fruit plates can extend the time you have to consume the fruits.

As people become more aware, there is a growing understanding of climate-friendly methods for managing food that has reached its expiration date, such as composting or using green bins. In addition, understanding the most effective ways to store produce can extend its period of edibility and reduce waste from the start.

Here are a few suggestions for storing fresh produce at home that can also help you save money.

Determine what items should be stored in the refrigerator.

Fruits known as “climacteric” continue to ripen after harvest and are perfect for storing on a fruit plate atop your kitchen bench – bananas, mangoes, avocados, pears, stone fruit and even tomatoes fit this bill.

When they reach maturity, you can put them in the refrigerator to delay the ripening process and extend their shelf life by a few days.

Other fruits only ripen while attached to the plant and therefore should always be stored in the fridge as they will only deteriorate at room temperature. These “non-climacteric” fruits include cherries, strawberries, grapes, cut watermelon and citrus.

Despite being climacteric, Truong suggests refrigerating apples to maintain their crispness and prevent them from becoming mealy.

Having knowledge of the temperature variations among your fridge shelves can assist you in making informed choices about where to store different types of produce.

According to Truong, to guarantee that your produce arrives in optimal condition, opt for a cardboard box instead of a plastic bag when shopping. Boxes are often available at no cost and provide protection from damage, preserving the longevity of your fruits and vegetables.

Storing apples in the fridge helps them retain their crunch.

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Watch out for dehydration from refrigeration

Truong suggests using a plastic bag or reusable plastic container to cover nearly all refrigerated fruits and vegetables, even when storing them in the crisper, to prevent them from becoming dry.

Many individuals are unaware that the fridge dehydrates items due to its continuous circulation of air, according to Truong.

Certain vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, leafy greens, snow peas, and soft-leaf herbs, require a “breathing hole” to prevent an excess of carbon dioxide from accumulating inside the container and causing unusual flavors to develop. To create a breathing hole, you can cover these vegetables with a damp tea towel or tie them up in a plastic bag and poke a small hole through the knot with your finger.

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One exception is ginger, which should be stored uncovered in the refrigerator to avoid excess moisture that can cause mold growth.

When preserving perishable food that is close to spoiling, permaculture and zero-waste expert Anna Matilda, also known as “The Urban Nanna,” recommends labeling the number of days remaining before the use-by date on the packaging. This allows for a clear understanding of how long the food can be used after thawing.

Broccoli and leafy greens benefit from a ‘breathing hole’ when placed in the fridge.

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Rescue ‘wonky’ produce

Matilda suggests buying fresh produce on days when stores restock, as this can lead to lower prices for “final sale” or “wonky” items. This not only saves money on groceries, but also helps prevent food waste.

“They typically do this when they empty out the current crates of produce. This results in the items being placed in the ‘use it or lose it’ pile not necessarily being of poor quality,” she explains. “If you had come in yesterday, you would have had to pay the full price for these items.”

However, she advises to be selective. Sturdy fruits and vegetables like apples, root vegetables, and onions have a more extended period of freshness, while older leafy greens tend to spoil quickly – although wilted celery can be revived by placing it in a glass of water.

Upon arriving home, promptly open any “specials” bags and dispose of any items that are too spoiled. This will help prevent the remaining items from spoiling. Afterward, wash and dry the remaining items before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer to ensure their longevity.

Although the abundance of inexpensive summer stone fruits and berries may tempt you to stock up for future use, it is important to be realistic about how much you will actually be able to preserve and store.

Matilda suggests not purchasing items that you won’t have time to process before they spoil, such as freezing, dehydrating, preserving, or making jam.

Embrace ‘scraptastic’ cooking

Matilda promotes a “waste not, want not” mentality to prevent food from being discarded and instead consumed.

She suggests checking your fridge and pantry for groceries before going to the store, making an effort to use food that is close to expiration, and getting creative with ingredients to create new dishes.

Additionally, practicing “scraptastic” cuisine involves making use of all components of the food that you produce and purchase. With some ingenuity, you can transform food remnants into broth, powders, fruit rolls, dehydrated soup blends, and even household cleaners. These items have a long shelf life and can be stored for months or even years.

Matilda explains that celery is an excellent illustration of this concept. She notes that many individuals typically discard the bottom fifth and the top leaves. However, it is important to know that every part of celery is actually edible. The leaves, for instance, can be included in a salad mix, stew, or green smoothie. Alternatively, they can be dehydrated and used as a flavorful base. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Truong acknowledges that this is all part of the learning process, but one that ultimately brings benefits.

Proper storage can lead to financial savings, promote sustainability, minimize waste, and most importantly, enhance the quality and taste of food.

Further resources

  • Sustainability Victoria offers an A-Z guide for storing fresh produce online.

  • There are books available, like The Food Savers A-Z, The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen, and Use It All, that provide suggestions and recipes for making meals with food scraps and produce that is close to expiring.

  • Every Saturday, Change by Degrees provides advice and suggestions for sustainable living to help minimize your household’s impact on the environment.

  • Do you have any inquiries or suggestions for decreasing emissions from homes? Contact us at [email protected].

Source: theguardian.com