Summer fruit and vegetable storage tips

It’s getting hot out there, and the RFG team are not complaining – but our vibrant, fresh fruit and veg might have a few words to say about the season if they could talk!

In the glare of an Aussie Summer, produce can spoil really quickly. To maintain flavour and freshness and to minimize waste, keep these six factors in mind when it comes to how and where you choose to store nature’s bounty. Have enough on your (fresh food) on your plate without stressing over food storage? Don’t worry; these practical guidelines mean you won’t need multiple fridges to keep your produce happy in the heat.

Eat it, don’t keep it

The key to minimising spoilage is knowing how long produce can be kept in optimum condition, planning your meals ahead of time for both deliciousness and freshness. How can you tell that produce is ‘on the turn’? Look out for changes in the texture, colour and appearance. If you notice your apples, beetroot or cauli is suddenly looking worse for wear, cook it up before it properly spoils. This might mean changing up your menu plan, but it’s worth it for flavour and nutrition fresh food offers.

Moisture control

Some produce like to stay wet – such as celery and herbs. By storing your herbs in a jar of water and keeping them in the fridge, you’ll be extending their life and jazzing up the week’s dining. When it comes to your mushrooms, broccoli, capsicum and zucchini, these need to be stored in paper or with a paper towel to wick the moisture away and stay fresh for longer.

Light or dark?

No fruit or veggie likes to be stored in bright light … but some produce pals are more light sensitive than others, preferring complete darkness. Spuds with white skins turn green in daylight, and release a chemical that has the potential to make you feel queasy. Onions also store better in dark, and are prone to give off high levels of ethylene – meaning they should be stored alone.

Temperature control

Everything has an optimum temperature. For example, your bananas are living their best life at 10 degrees – which isn’t ideal because our homes are typically warmer than 10 degrees and our fridges are colder. If you put your bananas in the fridge, their flesh keeps for a long time in optimum conditions, but their skins will go black.

A good rule of thumb to go by? If produce ripens off a tree or a vine they will typically prefer to be kept at room temperature. Anything that’s green and leafy HATES the warmth. If you’re unsure of the optimum temperature for a particular piece of produce, give it a quick Google – or message the Real Food Grocer team.

Ethylene producing or ethylene sensitive?

Several fruits and vegetables produce ethylene (aka the ripening hormone). It’s released as a gas and tells the produce when it’s time to start ripening. Some produce is high ethylene producing and others are super sensitive to the hormone, so it’s important to keep those foods separate to avoid spoiling and wastage.

Ethylene producing produce should be stored with enough space between each item to allow airflow so that the hormone doesn’t become trapped and rapidly increase the ripening process. That said, we can use ethylene producing foods to ripen produce faster. For example, if you want to ripen an avocado, you can pop it in an airtight container with a ripe banana, tomato or a peach and it will ripen faster.

Airflow

Airflow inside your fridge is part of the freshness puzzle. You need adequate airflow to ensure gases like ethylene can escape – but you don’t want the refrigerated air in your fridge to spoil sensitive items. Take care to protect strawberries, delicate greens (spinach, lettuce and herbs) and zucchini and carrot from the drying air in your fridge.

By considering these six freshness factors, you’ll enjoy your Real Food Grocer fare for longer; benefiting from tastier, brighter meals and reducing food wastage. Here’s to a long, hot summer of fresh eats!


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