Put A Lid On Food Waste: Simple Tips For Extending Shelf Life Of Food

Produce at local farmers market
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There’s nothing more frustrating than stocking your fridge with delicious produce, only to discover it withers and wilts just days later. It’s a waste of food and a waste of money. If you try to live sustainably, you are probably looking for ways to reduce waste in your home.

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to extend the shelf life of your produce. These tips will show you how to store common fruits and vegetables without resorting to the use of disposable plastic wrap.

Apples

Keep apples on the counter in a cool room for up to 2 weeks, or in a cardboard box in fridge for times longer than 2 weeks.

Apricots, Nectarines and Peaches

Keep stone fruits on the counter in a cool room until ripe, then move to the refrigerator.

Farmers market peaches

Image courtesy of North Charleston

Artichokes

Put artichokes in a sealed airtight container, with light moisture.

Asparagus

Put the asparagus stalks upright in a glass filled with water at room temperature, and they should keep for up to a week.

Basil

Basil is one of the only herbs that shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator. Keep it stored loosely in an airtight jar with a piece of damp paper towel on the counter.

Beets, Turnips and Radishes

Remove the green tops, then wash them and store them in an open container covered with a damp towel.

Bell Peppers

Store in the crisping drawer and don’t wash until you’re ready to eat them.

Bell pepper rainbow

Image courtesy of angelune des lauriers

Berries

Keep berries stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or in the container they came in only, and don’t wash before you’re ready to eat them.

Broccoli

Wrap broccoli in a damp towel, then place in the refrigerator to keep it from wilting.

Brussels Sprouts

Store Brussels Sprouts in an open container covered with a damp towel.

Cabbage

Don’t keep cabbage on the counter for longer than one week. Keep in the refrigerator for longer periods.

Carrots

To keep carrots fresher, cut the tops off of them. Then put them into a closed container wrapped in a damp towel. For longer periods, immerse them in cold water every few days.

Cauliflower

Keep in the refrigerator in a closed container.

Celery

Put celery on the counter in a cup or bowl of water.

Citrus

Keep all citrus stored in a cool location that has good airflow.

Cherries

Keep cherries in an airtight container unwashed.

Corn

Store unhusked corn in an open container for short periods of time.

Grilled corn

Image courtesy of Mike

Cucumber

Store cucumbers wrapped in a moist towel in the refrigerator.

Eggplant

Leave out at room temperature for short periods of time.

Garlic

Keep garlic in a cool, dark place.

Greens

When you get your greens home, remove all rubber bands and ties. Then either keep in the fridge in a closed container with a damp cloth or in a cup of water on the counter like celery.

Green beans

Store green beans in a loosely closed container with a damp cloth laid over the top of it.

Herbs

Keep herbs other than basil in a closed container in the refrigerator for a maximum of one week.

Lettuce

Keep lettuce in an airtight container in the fridge with a towel to absorb excess moisture.

Melons

Store melons uncut in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight for about two weeks. Once cut, store in the refrigerator.

Pears

Store on a cool counter for up to a few weeks.

Assorted pears

Image courtesy of Anushruti RK

Pomegranates

Store up to a month on the counter in a cool room.

Onions, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Winter Squash

Keep in cool, dry and dark location like a dark cabinet or paper bag.

Spinach

Put spinach loosely into an open container in the crisping drawer and keep as cold as possible.

Summer Squash and Zucchini

Store on the counter for a few days.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes should stay fresh for up to two weeks when stored on the counter.

If you follow these simple tips, you should be able to optimize the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables.

Feature image courtesy of Patrick Feller

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Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.