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Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to store fruits and vegetables

I've been trying to figure out how to store fruits and vegetables in my small kitchen. I have bags of onions and potatoes on my kitchen counter.

When I go to other peoples' homes, their kitchen counters are empty. I have to wonder, where do they keep their produce? Do they just eat out all the time? Maybe. I can't afford to do that.

Whenever I've put potatoes and onions in a dark cabinet, I tend to forget about them and when I do remember them, they have all rooted.

So, I was off in search of some tips on how to store fruits and veggies. Here's what I found out:

Keep bananas and apples away from other fruits and vegetables. They produce a gas that's harmless to us, but causes other produce to ripen very quickly.

"Tuber" vegetables like potatoes, yams, etc should be kept off the floor to discourage the produce being attacked by insects or tempting mice. Keep at room temperature. Don't refrigerate them or the flavor changes. Don't wash these until you need to use them, because the moisture can contribute to rotting.

Some people believe - and this does make a lot of sense - that if you store your potatoes next to onions, your potatoes could absorb an onion taste.

In the crisper drawer of the fridge, putting a paper towel on the bottom can help absorb moisture to help them last longer. On a personal note, I read in Good Housekeeping (I think that was the magazine!) that they tested those as-seen-on-TV produce bags, and they really didn't work as promised. So save your money by not buying those.

Many fruits do well on the top shelves of the refrigerator, but there are certain fruits like cherries, that do much better when kept at room temperature. The cold can ruin them. The overall advice seems to be - when in doubt, leave it out of the fridge.

You do not want to store vegetables or fruits on top of the refrigerator. It's very warm there, so you will have quicker spoilage.

Handwoven baskets that can be hung on the wall could be one solution for my onions and potatoes. The baskets will allow for air circulation. Less attractive but a workable solution would be to put cup hooks on the wall and hang the onions and potatoes in the bags they already come in. The net of the onion bag should allow plenty of air circulation, and that way they're up where you can see them and not let anything rot (is there anything worse smelling than old rotted potatoes and onions?!?)

I've also gotten good advice from the produce people in the stores - especially Publix in Snellville. They seem to know their produce really well (the Scenic Hwy/Ronald Reagan Parkway store).

For those even more determined to keep their fruits and vegetables fresh, here's a scientific solution from Stacks and Stacks homewares. I love how it looks, too!
Free Shipping. Auto-Vacuum FoodFresh - Preserve Your Fruits, Vegetables, Bread and More!
Description from Stacks and Stacks: "This fantastic food storage device isn't just for fruits and vegetables - it's also great for bread, pastries, and more! Preserve the nutrients and flavor of your food. The FoodFresh has a built-in electronic pump, which draws out the air - creating a vacuum seal! You'll love the attractive bread box style of this container, and you'll enjoy looking at your food through the transparent food-grade plastic lid. Complete suction is achieved in only two minutes! A silicon seal and locking clasp keep the FoodFresh air tight! Handles on each side of the base make for easy transport! There's a removable, dishwasher safe tray for easy cleaning and maintenance."

If you decide to purchase this, if you use this link, Stacks and Stacks says it's free shipping.