Keeping Produce Fresh in Your Refrigerator

Friday, August 3, 2012
There’s hardly anything better than fresh produce. Unfortunately, like everything else in todays’ economic climate, the cost of fresh produce has risen dramatically. That’s why you want to make sure that you are storing and keeping your produce in a manner to keep it fresh as long as possible.
Spoilage can be cause by bacterial or micro bacterial processes when the food is exposed to the wrong levels of humidity or temperature. No one wants to find wilted lettuce or moldy tomatoes in the refrigerator. It’s just not pleasant and it’s a waste of good food.
Making sure that your produce lasts as long as possible is going to take some extra effort, but you’ll find it well worth the time. Your produce will be enjoyable longer and you’ll protect your family budget. Spend some time learning about proper food storage.
Did you know that your refrigerator has microclimates?
The cold zone is the coldest spot in your refrigerators. This area includes the top and middle shelves toward the back. The temperature here can dip below 34°.
In the moderate zone the temperature will be above 37°. This is the middle and bottom shelves, toward the front of your refrigerator.
The humid zone is the crisper drawer. This is designed to keep a humid environment to keep your produce with high water content fresher. Some refrigerators have crisper drawers with vents to regulate the humidity.
Now that you know the zones, where do you store your food?
The fact is most people know that vegetables and some fruits go in the refrigerator but never think beyond that. Then they can’t quite figure out why the lettuce is frozen or the watermelon turned sour. Knowing where and how to store your produce can save a lot disappointment, not to mention money.
Use these handy tips for your refrigerators zones.
First, keep in mind that fruit and vegetables should be in separate containers or drawers. Certain fruits, such as apples will absorb the odors of vegetables such as cabbage and carrots. At the same time, pears have odors that will affect cabbage, celery and many root vegetables. And, always watch out for onions.
In the front of the refrigerator keep things like corn and peas. It’s a good idea to wrap the corn in a wet paper bag and then put it in a plastic bag.
In your crisper you want to keep things such as artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, radishes, scallions, summer squash, turnips, and zucchini.
Before storing asparagus, trim the ends and place the asparagus in shallow cool water before covering with plastic. Lettuce should be washed and dried, then rolled loosely in a clean kitchen towel before storing inside an unzipped plastic storage bag.
Things you don’t need to store in the refrigerator include tomatoes which should be left on the counter where you store them upside down. In your pantry store things like garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
If you’re storing fruit or vegetables that have been sliced, make sure to store them in an airtight container. Once the item is sliced, it can be exposed to new areas for bacteria to form.
Produce you purchase in the supermarket may actually do best if you allow it to remain in the original packaging. These items are generally processed to have longer shelf lives.
Reality is though that food is at its freshest when it’s just been harvested. So shopping at the farmer’s market is probably your best bet for the best in fresh produce. Properly stored produce from the farmer’s market can last for weeks in your refrigerator.
Make sure you inspect your produce for yellow tints, softness or wrinkles before purchasing. That’s a good thing to do whether shopping at the supermarket or the farmer’s market. Look for produce with no visible damages or bruises.

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