We’ve all been privy to that experience of splurging on a week’s worth of groceries only to discover that they barely last through day three. And while it’s no secret that there is a certain art and science to how a refrigerator should be organized, there are a handful of other ways to prolong the shelf life of your produce. At the forefront of it all, you can bypass a good deal of these woes by purchasing fruits and vegetables from a fresh and local source—obviously, if possible. For those of us whose approach to a grocery run isn’t limited to a weekly excursion, there is the added benefit of having the ability to purchase produce that can be enjoyed at their ultimate level of readiness. On the other end of the spectrum, for those who can only make the trip a handful of times a month, a few clever tricks are essential to upholding their quality.
You’ve undoubtedly come across a myriad storage hacks, which have included everything from storing potatoes with an apple to keep them from sprouting to keeping tomatoes on the counter in lieu of the fridge—the list goes seemingly on and on. Ahead, we rounded up a few easy solutions geared towards prolonging the shelf life of a few common buys, which undoubtedly hold a spot in your cart each week.
Brown-speckled bananas are no joke and unless you’re about to making banana bread, they definitely don’t deserve to take up space in your kitchen. More often than not, bananas seem to age overnight so naturally, a hack is in order. Personally, once a banana has reached its optimal level of ripeness, I immediately store it in the fridge to pause the growing process. For those who don’t love the fruit in cold form, there is an equally easy alternative: simply wrap the stem of the bunch with plastic wrap. The science behind this is centered around the conception that the wrap prevents the release of ethylene gas from the bananas, which is what motivates the ripening process.
Unless you’re buying baby-sized carrots, chances are, you come home with a bunch of carrots that boast an equally large, if not larger, head of greens. Aside from the fact that they can take up an insane amount of room in the fridge—and no one has that sort of luxury—they can also cause your carrots to wilt. Said leaves rely heavily on water to stay green, which means they’ll be sucking all the available water from the carrots, which in turn will cause them to become limp and shortly thereafter, unpleasant to consume. Simply chop them off before storing them in the fridge, and either toss them out or use them in one of these clever recipes.
You slice an avocado and save a half for later, only to return and find a browned-out mush version that is anything but edible. Sound familiar? Not to worry, there’s a fix for that. Immediately after slicing your avocado, drizzle the top layer with a touch of fresh lemon before storing it in the refrigerator. You can thank the antioxidant properties of the citrus, which will prevent the browning process. Plus, your avocado slice will boast a refreshing burst of flavor when you do choose to eat it. Alternatively, you may also cover the slice, tightly, with plastic wrap, to prevent oxidation.
You pick up fresh mushrooms at the farmers’ market one weekend and come the following Friday, you notice the signature mush and slime coating that signifies the demise of the bunch. The cause? Moisture—a serious hindrance on the quality of your shrooms. To prevent this from happening, opt for whole mushrooms, in lieu of the sliced variety, as they will keep longer, and store them in a paper bag to catch the excess moisture that can accumulate.
Leftover guacamole? Yes, once in a blue moon, it can happen. Instead of having to put yourself through the distress that is consuming browned guacamole, take a simple, preventive measure towards it. The browning, which is a result of oxidation, can easily be thwarted with a little plastic wrap. In lieu of covering the top of the bowl, insert the wrap so that it is actually touching the guacamole. Gently press the wrap down so that it covers the entirety of the surface of the bowl, making sure to cover any air bubbles that may form between the plastic wrap and the guacamole. Take things a step further by covering the overall surface of the bowl with an additional layer of plastic wrap to ensure optimal freshness.
Similar to the asparagus approach, you may also keep fresh herbs in a mini vase or glass, filled with water. This is also a great method for giving life to greens that have already wilted—simply slice off the ends and set the bunch in a water-filled glass. This method is ideal for prolonging the shelf life of commonly used herbs such as parsley, cilantro, or basil, which have the tendency to go bad sooner than later. Another approach is to wash them immediately after purchasing, allowing them to dry completely, wrapping them loosely in paper towels, and storing them in the fridge. Throughout the week as you make your way through the bunch, toss out any stems that are browning to prevent the rest from going bad.
When it comes to making the most of your asparagus, it’s all about the fresh floral approach. Snap or slice off the ends, and set the bunch in a glass filled with a few inches of water. Store in the refrigerator until they are ready to be consumed. Some may choose to cover the bunch with a loose-fitting bag or Ziploc although, we didn’t find a significant difference in doing so.
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