We all know that adding a few more vegetables to your day is a great way to improve your health. In fact, the Nurses’ Health Study found that eating fruits and vegetables contributed to slower cognitive decline, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Study found that adding more plants to your daily menu reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can lower blood pressure. While the long-term health benefits of fruits and vegetables can’t be denied, you’ll probably find them hard to appreciate if you get sick from storing them improperly.
Safely storing your vegetables starts at the point of purchase. After all, there’s not much sense in bringing them home and doing it right if the shop has already allowed bacteria to proliferate. The FDA recommends only buying pre-cut fruits or vegetables (think half a watermelon, bagged salads, those intriguing little containers of jicama sticks) if they are refrigerated or being kept on ice.
It’s also important to avoid buying fruits and vegetables with bruises or bad spots, which can cause them to rot faster. And be sure to bag your produce and keep it separate from raw meat or seafood to avoid cross-contamination.
There are a few easy tricks to stretch the life of your veggies and prevent food waste, but there are also a few you probably haven’t heard of that could be costing you cash.
Don’t put potatoes, onions, bananas, tomatoes, or onions in the fridge at all. The same goes for unripe tropical fruits, which can be left at room temperature until they are ripe, then refrigerated. You should also refrain from cooling your cukes. Storing them below 50 degrees makes them spoil faster. Celery should be tightly wrapped in aluminum foil until it’s used. And cut the tops off of root vegetables like carrots and rutabagas, keep potatoes away in a cool dark place away from other veggies, and you’ve done your part to extend the life of your produce.
More generally, don’t wash anything until you’re going to use it. Store vegetables loosely in perforated plastic bags, and keep them separate from your fruit. Fruit releases ethylene gas as it ripens, which will make veggies spoil faster.
However, your health isn’t the only thing properly storing your produce protects. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. It then winds up rotting in landfills, where it becomes a serious source of methane emissions. So, doing what you can to keep your vegetables from going bad and going to waste not only saves you money, it helps save the environment as well.
If you follow these tips, you’re well on your way to saving some serious money, along with protecting your health and the environment. And to really maximize the safety and longevity of your groceries, This is the Safest Way to Store Meat!
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