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The following is part of an Organic Journey guest post series written by Amy, a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.
This was a small shopping week. I spent around $60, half of which was spent on the last batch of fresh peaches this summer. I just bought a new toy, an amazing dehydrator. After watching this video I was inspired. We have been making peach fruit leathers and all sorts of other treats, but more about that later. For now we need to finish learning how to store our fruits (at least the ones that haven’t gotten dehydrated!)
Sorting is huge when you want your apples to last a long time. The old cliche about “one bad apple ruining the bunch” is there for a reason. I just got a bushel of apples and immediately pulled out the apples that had bruises. The bruised apples got put on a shelf in the fridge to be eaten first. Apparently, the bruises give off more ethylene gas and will cause all of the apples to ripen faster (and thus rot faster). Apples are best stored at 30-35º. Have you ever left apples on the counter for a few days? They start to get pretty mealy. So, put them in the fridge in the crisper drawer, and they will last for weeks.
Citrus (Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruits, etc.)
All of your citrus fruits will last about a week on your counter, but they will last much longer in the crisper drawer of your fridge. I have had oranges that lasted well over a month.
Pears are rather tricky fruits as they are supposed to be picked before they are fully ripened. If you are picking pears fresh off of the tree, I recommend reading Oregon State University’s article on When to Pick and How to Ripen Pears to Perfection. If you buy your pears from the grocery store, they recommend letting the pears ripen in temperatures ranging from 65-75º for 4-10 days depending on the type of pear you have purchased. Put them in the fridge after that if you aren’t ready to eat them, but you want to eat them soon to get the full goodness that the pear has to offer!
Store them on the counter and allow them to continue to ripen. If you have uber ripe bananas and aren’t ready to eat them yet, you can pop them into the freezer whole. When you are ready to use them (for smoothies or mashed up in some yummy banana bread!), you can remove them from the freezer and either let them thaw or run them under warm water and the peel will be easily removed. Another fun trick for storing bananas is that you can buy a cheap hook from home depot and screw it underneath your cabinets for an easy way to store bananas so they don’t get bruises where they have been resting on your counter.
Don’t wash grapes when you get them home, in fact, leave them in the plastic perforated bag and put them in your fridge. They will last 3-5 days. I like to have my girls pull all of the grapes off of the stems, then I will wash them and put them in a bowl in the fridge with a cloth napkin or paper towel at the bottom of the bowl to absorb the extra water. This way when somebody has the munchies in my house, they can open the fridge and grab a handful of grapes.
Peaches (and other soft flesh fruit)
With as many peaches as we have been buying lately, I feel like I should be an expert on this one! Let peaches ripen on the countertop, but once they are ripe, put them in the fridge in a plastic bag to prolong their life. They still won’t last long, 3-5 days, at most in the fridge.
Don’t put them in the fridge if they aren’t ripe because they won’t ever ripen and will taste blah!
Several of my friends used a vinegar rinse on their berries this summer and saw a tremendous difference in how long they lasted. Just make sure that if you use a rinse, you thoroughly dry your berries before you put them back in the fridge because excess moisture causes decay (notice a theme?) Berries won’t continue to ripen after they have been picked, so make sure you choose ones that look beautiful. The packaging that berries come in are great for storing in the fridge, and remember that berries don’t last long, just a few days, so eat them fast!
We love getting pineapples from the farmer’s market, and last time that I was there, a fellow shopper taught me that you can tell if a pineapple is ripe by pulling on one of the leaves. If it comes out easily, it is ripe. I like just smelling the pineapple. You can tell a lot about a pineapple by how it smells. You can store pineapples in the fridge or on the counter (if you haven’t cut them) for a few days.
Did you know that there are multiple kinds of kiwi? I didn’t. Most of the time, we have the fuzzy kind in our grocery stores. Those are best stored in the fridge in perforated plastic bags away from other ripening fruits per Oregon State University.
If your cantaloupe is not ripe when you buy it (you can tell by smelling the stem scar), leave it on the counter, but watch it carefully! Cantaloupes ripen quickly and can go from amazing to mush in a day. You can store ripened cantaloupes in the crisper drawer of your fridge for about 5 days. (and thanks to UC Davis for teaching me that the soft spot is called a stem scar!)
There are other bags, containers and even blu apples that do everything from absorbing the ethylene gases released to draining off excess water and controlling the humidity (much like your drawers in your fridge, only in a foolproof form)! All of these things claim that your produce will last longer if you use them, but to be honest, I haven’t used any of them and don’t know how well they work. I’ve seen a number of comments on these posts talking about significant differences. The logic behind it makes enough sense to me that several of these products have made it onto my Christmas wishlist. Also, if you want to learn more about ethylene, here is a detailed article explaining what it is and how it works.
I’d love to know any tricks that you have found that work wonders, or are you a big fan of a certain type of container for storing your produce? Please share and we will all be the wiser for it!