Friday, June 12, 2009


Keep Produce Fresh Longer
Extend the life of your food with these money-saving tips.
By Stephanie Breakstone, Prevention

For the best deals on summer's bounty, head to your local farmers' market. You'll save big on in-season fruits and veggies and find just-picked crops that are more nutritious than their store-bought counterparts. The problem: With the abundance comes spoilage. We spoke with Marita Cantwell, Ph.D., a postharvest specialist at the University of California, Davis, and got her simple—and surprising—storage secrets for stretching the life of perishable produce.

Store-Longer Dos and Don'ts


Do ripen on your countertop for about a week, which nearly doubles the melon's lycopene and beta-carotene levels, according to a USDA study. Pop it in the fridge a day before eating.

Don't store it near other fruits; watermelon is easily damaged by ethylene, a gas released by fruits that speeds up deterioration.

Do store in their original ventilated plastic bag, remove bruised or damaged fruit, and wrap the rest in paper towel to absorb excess moisture that promotes mold growth.
Don't wash until right before eating; doing so in advance encourages mold development.
Fresh Herbs

Do wrap in paper towels to absorb moisture, and place in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.

Don't refrigerate basil, which is damaged by the cold; stand it in water on a sunny windowsill.

Do store cherry and grape tomatoes in their original containers in the refrigerator. Ripen large varieties on the counter—cold temperatures halt color, flavor, and nutrient development. Once bright red, store them in the fridge.

Don't place ripe tomatoes near vegetables, as they give off ethylene.

Do store in their original clamshell containers, which increase ventilation. Remove bruised or moldy berries from the batch; they'll speed up decay among the rest.
Don't wash berries prior to storage for the same reason as grapes.
Leafy Greens

Do pat them dry before storing, as excess moisture contributes to decay. Wrap in paper towels, place in a plastic bag, and store in the crisper.

Don't keep them in close proximity to ethylene-emitting fruits like tomatoes.