By Beverly Jenkins, Operations Manager at Tidy Maids in Raleigh, NC

Did you know that about 40% of food products in the US are never eaten but thrown away? Your vegetables, fruits, and other perishables that you cannot seem to eat before they spoil could be among the items contributing to that statistic. In any case, if not stored properly, you could easily lose your last farmers’ market haul! Avoid waste and save your time and money – here are 7 hacks to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer.

1.    Always Keep Your Refrigerator Clean

If you want the items you stash in the refrigerator to last longer, then you need to keep it in top shape. This way, you leave no room for molds and other bacteria to grow. These are some of the elements that contaminate your fresh produce and cause it to spoil faster even when stored in the fridge. Leave open spaces within the fridge to allow free circulation of air. In a crowded space, most of your fresh produce is exposed to ethylene gas (emitted by some fruits, like apples, as they ripen) which causes other produce to ripen more quickly and begin decaying.

2.    Store Fruits and Vegetable Whole

Cutting fruits or veggies only when you’re ready to use them enables you to get the most of their nutritional value. Most fresh produce also spoils faster if its flesh is exposed to air. For those fruits or vegetables that you must cut and store before using, find a way to seal them properly to make sure no air is getting to their flesh. A great idea is to dress them in a coat that will keep off moisture and air. For instance, you can dress a sliced avocado with some lemon juice when storing and you will come find it as fresh as new!


3.    Store Your Perishables Away From Heat

Exposure to high temperatures increases the rate at which fruits and vegetables ripen. Avoid keeping your fresh produce near stoves, gas cooker tops, toasters and other appliances that emit heat.

4.    Dry Mushrooms before Storage

One mistake many of us make is storing veggies in wrong containers.

Mushrooms, for instance, will immediately start developing brown spots and shrinking because of the moisture trapped inside plastic packaging. Mushrooms stay fresh longer if stored in a dry and breathable packaging such as brown paper bags. This kind of paper absorbs moisture just like paper towels and allows better circulation of air, unlike plastic bags. Likewise, do not pack your mushrooms in glass containers, the fridge produce bins, Tupperware or any other container designed to trap in moisture.


5.    Wash Your Produce Thoroughly Before Storing

You can keep off mold by washing certain fruits and vegetables with a solution of water and vinegar. Just mix 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts water, dip your fruits and vegetables, and then wash them gently but thoroughly. Vinegar not only prevents mold buildup and rotting, but also helps get rid of pesticides on conventionally grown produce and fruit, and kills bacteria that could be clinging on your vegetables. After washing, rinse thoroughly with clean water and pat dry before storing.

6.    Dip Your Herbs in Water

Just like cut flowers, herbs do not survive for long if not placed in water. Store herbs such as cilantro and basil with their stalks immersed in water in a jar. You can invest in some mason jars so that you can always put your fresh herbs in water before storing them in the counters or refrigerator.


7.    Learn What To and Not To Keep Together

It is not wise to store all your fresh produce together. Some produce cause others to spoil more quickly because they emit ethylene “ripening” gas. For instance, do not store apples and cherries or blueberries together; the berries and cherries will spoil faster. If you store your potatoes and onions together, the potatoes are prone to rotting or sprouting faster. On the contrary, if potatoes are paired with apples, the potatoes stay intact and fresh for longer. One fruit to keep away from the rest of your farm fresh produce is the banana. Bananas emit a lot of ethylene gas. The gas will not only cause them to ripen and spoil quicker, but also, ruin any other fresh produce around bananas.


Beverly Jenkins is proud of her staff at The Tidy Maids house cleaning service in Raleigh, NC. She has 24 years of experience in house cleaning, customer service, and business operations. She knows all the tips and tricks and do-it-yourself hacks when it comes to cleaning and her clients’ homes are the best proof for that.