HOW SHOULD YOU STORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOR THE BEST NUTRITION?
How Should You Store Fruits and Vegetables for the Best Nutrition? Have you noticed the inexorable shift back to nature’s bounty? We certainly have.
The benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables in all their forms are impossible to ignore, especially when compared to processed foods. There is undeniable evidence linking low-quality diets with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore returning to home-cooked meals made with fresh, natural ingredients is the way to go. If this is the path that you’re choosing for your family, then it’s worth looking into the best ways to store your fresh fruits and vegetables to retain as many of the nutrients as possible. Let’s explore this together.
What Is the Best Way to Store Fresh Fruit and Vegetables? Once we’ve taken the time to carefully select the freshest fruits and vegetables, we want to make sure that they last as long as possible once you get them home. The process of respiration starts to break down stored organic materials once your produce is harvested, which leads to the steady loss of food value in terms of flavour and nutrients. Keeping it cool and moist is the most effective way to slow this process for most of our fruit and vegetables.
However, each product will have a different respiration rate that determines how best to store them. This leads us to the next question: What Produce Should be Refrigerated?
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and hard-skinned vegetables such as butternut and other squash don’t require refrigeration. They are hardy enough to manage quite well in a cool, dark environment with adequate air circulation. Beetroot, carrots and ginger do well in the fridge but are less fussy about where they sleep. They can be stored with ethylene sensitive vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, or cabbage. Leafy vegetables are sensitive and have a short life span, so they are best off cleaned, dried, and refrigerated. Keep them in airtight containers with the aim of eating them as soon as possible.
Apples do better in the fridge than they would out on the countertop, and will last well in a sealed bag or in the crisper. Pears and mangoes ripen well at room temperature but should be refrigerated as soon as they are ripe to keep them fresh for longer. This food refrigeration chart below is a really convenient tool to print out and stick up in the kitchen for quick reference.
Which Fruits and Vegetables Can Be Stored Together?
Whether in the fridge or a pantry cupboard, the main factors that affect the storage of fruits and veggies are:
We can understand the effect of temperature and airflow on fresh produce, but what is the deal with ethylene?
An article from NY Times breaks it down for us, saying, “ Ethylene gas [is what] some fruits—such as apples and bananas—naturally release. It hastens the ripening (and eventual decay) of certain types of produce that are ethylene-sensitive, like cabbage, leafy greens, lettuce, and broccoli, just to name a few. Whether you refrigerate or not, you should keep ethylene-sensitive fruits and veggies separate from the gas-emitting ones.” Therefore, it makes sense to separate the ethylene producing produce from those which are sensitive to this natural gas. The below information from UCSD Community offers some great advice.