Want really fresh veggies and fruits that last? Start by checking the temperature of your refrigerator. Too cold will cause your fruits and vegetables to spoil. Try raising the temperature until your foods are cool but not extremely cold.
In our refrigerator, we keep containers full of prepared foods: enough salad torn for a couple of weeks, shredded/chopped/diced veggies for salad, a variety of beans, rice, pasta, marinara sauce, salsa, fresh fruit (like grapes or melon in the summer time!). In our pantry, we keep containers full of whole grain bread products(loaf bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, Italian/foccaccia bread).
Prepare and store salad for 2-4 weeks by washing lettuce, tearing into bite size pieces, draining excess water (salad spinner or let it air dry) then place it in a bowl or plastic storage bag with one paper towel to absorb extra moisture. Cut or shred salad ingredients and store them in separate containers with a paper towel or mix the items together. The paper towel makes all the difference when it comes to keeping produce fresh in the refrigerator!
Use small to medium size containers to keep salad ingredients ready and fresh. When you want a salad, it will be super convenient.
Mix your own salad dressings: honey mustard, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar with olive oil, add garlic or Italian seasonings. Check this blog for salad dressing ideas.
Wash and dry fruits then place them in bags. Do not mix varieties in the same bag. Fruits and vegetables give off “gases” which cause them to ripen. Storing them together in a drawer in your refrigerator works best when all the apples are in one bag, oranges in another, etc. The same goes for veggies. Store broccoli in a bag (with a paper towel!) and bag or use plastic wrap for everything else.
Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pears, Avocados: Do not refrigerate until these fruits yield to pressure. Then, bag them and refrigerate to slow the ripening process. If you want to speed up the ripening process, put these fruits in paper bags and store in your pantry. If you have an abundance of these items, and you don’t want them to ripen all at once, try bagging them and storing them in various places. I keep some avocados out in the open, some in the pantry and some in my kitchen cabinets. As the ripen, I use them or move them to the refrigerator.
Bananas do best when they are hung on a string or on a banana “tree.” Peel ripe bananas and break into two inch chunks to be frozen and later used for smoothies and ice cream treats! Freeze the peeled bananas in a bag or plastic container.
Berries should be refrigerated if they are fully ripe. You’ll want to eat these quick or prepare them to be frozen. In the refrigerator, store them in their original containers.
Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic: make sure these items are thoroughly dry and leave them in a hanging basket or decorative bowls/baskets rather than using the refrigerator. Green tomatoes will ripen beautifully in your kitchen cabinets on cardboard. Do not allow the tomatoes to touch one another.
Brocolli, cauliflower, celery, beets will all keep well stored in containers with paper towels to absorb moisture. Store these items whole or chopped/sliced/diced, etc.
Herbs – Fresh herbs like Cilantro can be rinsed and then stored in your refrigerator. Place the cilantro in a plastic bag or container with a paper towel. Or, you can put the Cilantro in a glass of water, cover the cilantro with plastic and change out the water ever few days.
Other choices for herbs:
1. Puree herbs in a blender/food processor with your favorite oil and refrigerate or freeze.
2. Puree herbs with a small amount of water and freeze in ice cube trays. Store ice cubes in a plastic bag and use to season soups, sauces, and beverages.
3. Crush fresh herbs and add to 12 ounces of white wine vinegar with a whole peeled clove of garlic. Let steep for a few days to two weeks. Strain and use vinegar in salads, as a marinade, or add to cooking water when steaming vegetables.