How to store cucumbers
Some fruit, such as tomatoes, bananas and melons, produce ethylene gas, a ripening agent that speeds up spoilage. Cucumbers are super sensitive to this ethylene gas, so they need their own place or they’ll spoil faster. They’re actually more suited to hanging out on the counter than in the crisper drawer with gassy fruit, according to the American Heart Association, but if you want cold cucumbers, you can store them for a few days in the fridge (away from fruit).
How to get herbs to last longer
If you’re trying to cut back on salt or just want to add more flavour to your meal, fresh herbs fit the bill, but don’t just toss them in the fridge. Store fresh herbs just as you would fresh cut flowers. First, make sure the leaves are completely dry.
Next, snip off the ends and place the herbs in a cup of water. Most herbs do well when stored this way in the fridge. Basil, however, likes to hang out at room temperature. You’ll still want to place it in a jar with water though. When the water gets yucky, drain and add fresh water. Most herbs stored this way are good for up to two weeks.
Keep root veggies in the dark
Root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, beets and onions are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies we can eat, since they absorb nutrients from the soil. To retain those good nutrients, store root vegetables in a cool, dark and humid place.
A root cellar is ideal, but if you don’t have something that mimics one, the next best option is to place the veggies in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper. If you just toss them in the fridge, they’ll soften and rot a lot quicker.
A vinegar bath makes berries last longer
Berries are delightfully sweet and easy to eat. The problem is, they can get mouldy quickly if not stored properly. The culprit is tiny mould spores that want to make the little nooks and crannies of the berry skin their home. The first rule with berries is to avoid washing them until you’re ready to eat them because moisture equals mould.
What if you just brought home a large quantity of berries because they were selling cheap and you’re unable to eat them all right away? You can extend their life a couple of days by taking a few minutes to give the berries a bath in a solution of one cup of vinegar to three cups of water. Let them soak briefly; then gently rinse in a colander. The vinegar will hinder the mould growth.
Since berries don’t do well sitting wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly – lay them out on a paper towel and gently blot (or put a few paper towels in your salad spinner and dry them that way). Store the berries loosely in a container that is ventilated, or leave the lid partially opened.
Store apples away from oranges
Sometimes, we just don’t all get along. That’s the case with apples and oranges – trusted fruit bowl staples in still life paintings but frenemies in fridge life. Fruit give off a gas called ethylene, the ripening agent that will lead to faster spoilage of the produce around it, says Matthew Robinson, author of Knickerbocker Glory: A Chef’s Guide to Innovation in the Kitchen and Beyond.
Store apples in the fridge if you want to extend their shelf life. Oranges stored in the fridge (away from apples) should be placed in a mesh bag so that air can circulate around them. Plastic bags will make oranges mouldy.
A hand of bananas shows them off in their best light, but the problem is, they all ripen at the same time, which means you’re either eating bananas for two days straight or making a lot of banana smoothies with the overripe ones. Here’s a solution: break up the bunch.
Keep some in the fruit bowl to ripen and store the rest in the fridge to delay the ripening process (the skins might go brown but the flesh is fine). If you missed your chance and you’ve got a glut of overripe bananas, other uses for them is in banana bread or toss them in the freezer to make banana ‘ice cream’.
Don’t store onions with potatoes
Fried potatoes and onions are a delish combo but don’t store them together, as the onions will cause the potatoes to go bad. It’s best to store items like potatoes and squash vegetables (zucchini, marrow, pumpkin) in an open-air wicker basket in a cool, dark place to preserve freshness.
You can store them in a paper bag, but just make sure they’re in a container where moisture or condensation can’t build up, which would make them soften faster. A friendly neighbour for onions is garlic. They can be stored near each other without ripening or spoiling. Just store them in a well-ventilated space, and keep the paper-like skin of the garlic intact until use.
Ripen avocados next to bananas
According to a 2019 survey, avocado was number two on the list of the Top 10 Super Foods. Since avocados can be pricey, it’s important to store them correctly. If your avocados are under-ripe, store them next to bananas. The gasses released from the bananas promote ripening.
If you need to extend the life of an avocado, store it in the refrigerator. It will slow the ripening process significantly. If you can’t eat a whole avocado, store the cut fruit with the seed intact in an airtight container along with a sliver of onion.
Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge
A freshly picked garden tomato is undeniably delicious, but time in the fridge can make it mushy and bland-tasting. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. Instead, store at room temperature to preserve their flavour.
Store cut carrots, celery, and asparagus in water
Peanut butter on a crunchy stalk of celery is a snack that has stood the test of time (especially if you put raisins atop the peanut butter), but limp celery? Not so much. Storing it in plastic is a no-no. The ethylene gas it produces has nowhere to go. Wrap the celery tightly in foil and after each use, re-wrap it snug.
Or if you want grab-n-go celery, cut it up into sticks and submerge them in water in an airtight container. The same water bath works for cut-up carrot sticks. For asparagus, keep the rubber bands around the stems and break off the fibrous ends. Place them in a tall drinking glass with enough water to cover an inch of asparagus.