Maintaining a home garden is the best way to provide yourself and your family with fresh, delicious, healthy fruits and vegetables. But if your fresh produce gets withered and brown when you store it, then this creates undesirable waste. Here are some easy ways to extend the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables, and to prevent them from turning brown before you can eat them.
Apples can be stored long-term if they are kept in a cool, dark place that is relatively humid and well ventilated. For example, try wrapping each apple in a single sheet of newspaper, then storing them with the folded side of the paper down in a barrel or open cardboard box in your basement. Apples can last a few months this way. Just make sure to check for rotten ones, as one rotten fruit will cause the others to rot. For short-term storage, apples can be stored in a ventilated plastic bag in the fridge.
Asparagus is likely to get slimy or wilty if you bundle the stalks together. It will last for about 4 days of you store the stalks loosely in your refrigerator crisper drawer. Or, to make it last even longer, stand the jugs on end (root end facing down) in a jug of cold water in your fridge. Asparagus likes cold, moist conditions and can last for as long as 2 weeks if kept in these conditions.
Whole avocados will keep well in your refrigerator for about 3-4 days. If you wish to ripen avocados, place them inside a paper bag and fold the opening over. Remember that as soon as you cut into an avocado, oxidation will begin. If you wish to lengthen the life of a cut avocado, leave the pit in as long as possible, and sprinkle lemon or lime juice on the cut flesh.
Bananas should never be stored in the refrigerator, as it will cause their skin to darken. (This oxidation process is harmless but looks unappealing.) Bananas are best kept at room temperature. Handle them with care to prevent bruising, or use a banana hanger, which helps to de-accelerate ripening.
Berries are best kept in the fridge, but in the warmest area of your fridge. Keep them as dry as possible in a covered container. Do not wash them until just before eating them. Remember that berries are delicate and bruise easily.
Keep broccoli in your refrigerator crisper drawer. If it is kept in consistently cool and humid conditions, it can last for about 10 days.
Carrots will keep for several days when they are stored in a cool place with good air circulation, such as your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Celery will last for several days if you leave it in the refrigerator, and intact. If you wish to store it in individual, washed stalks, try filling a plastic container filled with water and a couple drops of vinegar. Seal the container and keep it in your fridge. The celery stalks will last for about 3 days this way.
Store cherries in a ventilated plastic bag in your refrigerator. Do not wash them until just before you eat them. Store grapes the same way.
Store corn in its husks in your refrigerator. It will keep for about 5 days this way. Do not remove the husks until you are getting ready to prepare it.
Melons will ripen at room temperature. If you wish to ripen one, just leave it on your kitchen counter. If you have a ripe melon, store it in a cool, airy place, or in your refrigerator. Melons store best in an environment that is about 40 to 50 degrees F.
Store onions in a cool, dry place. They will become soft if stored in the refrigerator. Store onions separately from your potatoes- they give off a gas that hastens the aging process of potatoes. Onions can be stored for up to 6 months if they are kept cool and dry.
Oranges, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits
Citrus fruits will last for about a week when stored in your refrigerator.
Store green peas in a cool, humid place such as your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. They can last 1-3 weeks this way.
Store potatoes in a dark, cool, dry place. They keep well and can even last for several months in these conditions. Do not store potatoes in the fridge, as this will encourage them to sprout or become moldy. Do not eat potatoes if they have been exposed to light and developed green patches.
If tomatoes are red and ripe, keep them in a cool place, ideally at about 50 degrees. They will last for about a week this way. If tomatoes are green and you wish to ripen them, place them in a paper bag and fold the open end over. Then, place the bag in a nice warm place where it is about 70 degrees F.
Yellow Squash and Zucchini
Yellow squash and zucchini are best kept in a ventilated plastic bag in your refrigerator. They will keep this way for approximately 1-2 weeks.
As a general guideline, always leave an inch of stem or more when harvesting fruits and vegetables in your garden. This will help to reduce water loss and help to prevent disease from reaching the fruit as well. Always pick fruits and vegetables at the peak of their maturity, and avoid ones that have been badly damaged by insects. This will help you to get the best shelf life possible out of your fruits and vegetables.
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