Healthy eating can be time consuming, especially when it comes to the amount of effort that is put into cooking and grocery shopping. More often than not, we find ourselves going to the grocery store buying some fruits and veggies in an attempt to eat healthy for the week, and when you finally get to making food, your produce is already bad. Yikes! Don't you hate that? What a waste of money!
We are going to talk about some methods on how to pick out your produce and also how to store it properly in your home so it lasts for weeks!
How to Shop for Produce:
For long-lasting perishables, you want to select the freshest of the fresh! Look for the fruits and veggies that are the most rich in color. This means that they are most nutrient dense in comparison to a more faint fruit or veggie.
Leafy greens are bad or already on their way out when they begin to go limp and develop yellow in coloring. When you are looking for leafy greens, be sure to find the produce that is crisp and rich in color with no yellowing.
Root veggies are your vegetables that grow in the ground, such as cabbage, squash, onions, carrots, beats, ginger, etc. These perishables are supposed to be hard all the way throughout.
Make sure there are no soft spots or blemishes. A blemish can be considered a brown spot. This signifies that the produce is already tarnishing and beginning to rot. By avoiding these things, you are setting yourself up for more longevity!
Oftentimes, when you grab a container of strawberries or raspberries, they could have already started to mold. Double check to see if there is any mold. If there is, go right on ahead and put that thing back! It’s a goner!
Speaking of goners, when a grocery store has fruits or veggies on sale, that means they are trying to get rid of them! They are more than likely already going bad! So if you are a bargain shopper, which we all should be, just keep in mind that they will parish quicker. Make it a priority to eat that food as soon as you can. It’s already on its way out!
Organic vs Non-organic
Organic fruits and vegetables are going to parish much quicker than non-organic food. If you don't know what it means for a fruit or vegetable to be organic, it means that there are no preservatives on them. Preservatives help keep the fruits and veggies fresh and protect them from going bad.
Now, preservatives are great for keeping things from rotting, but they are not good for your digestive system. Remember that organic fruits and veggies will not last as long as the others, but if you do purchase non-organic, make sure to give them a nice rinse before you eat them so your body can digest them easily and use them for proper fuel.
How to Store Produce:
Now that we have talked about how to shop for produce correctly and smartly, let’s talk about how to store them in your home to last even longer!
A nice rule of thumb to go by: however you bought your perishables at the grocery store is how they should be stored in your home. Consider the conditions. What's the temperature like? The air flow? Humidity?
For example, bananas, oranges, avocados, onions, and tomatoes all aren’t refrigerated. Therefore, these foods don't have to be refrigerated when you bring them home. Lots of produce does well being kept in the refrigerator, but others do better being kept in a cool room temperature.
The items you store your fruits and veggies by can also play a role in how quickly they diminish. Some fruits, such as apples and bananas, release a chemical gas called ethylene. This gas speeds up the ripening process. Some perishables are extra sensitive to ethylene, especially leafy greens like broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage.
Fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries are sensitive to ethylene. Therefore, they should not be stored next to each other. Make sure to keep the ethylene sensitive ones away from the ethylene emitting ones.
Produces such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic are items that should be stored at room temperatures and are best to be stored in areas with good circulation. Plastic bags cause premature spoilage. Take them out of the bags and let them breathe! They will last longer.
Now on the flip side, most items stored in the refrigerator do better if they are sealed tight. Why? It holds in moisture and protects the produce from dehydrating. It also protects them from ethylene.
Depending on how ripe an item is, you can move them from room temperature into the refrigerator. Fruit like mangoes and pears can be kept at room temperature. Once ripe, they can be moved into the refrigerator for longer storage (but don't forget to keep them away from the ethylene emitting produce so they don’t continue to ripen).
Produce that will be cut and not fully used in one sitting, such as cabbage or onions, should be put in a container or plastic bag after being cut to hold in the moisture and avoid dehydration.
All in all, try your best to correctly store products. Use your best judgement. If it smells, looks, and tastes fine you shouldn’t throw it away. If it does smell bad, molded, dried out, or turning a different color, then it’s a good idea to give it a toss!