Very often, we find that fruits and vegetables bought from the market shrivel up when stored for a few days at home. To retain freshness, one must understand the storing criteria for fruits and vegetables so as they retain freshness and nutrients.
General tips are:
- Store all pre-cut and peeled fruits and vegetables in the fridge.
- Avoid washing right away: You can wash the fruits when it is time to consume them and do not wash them as soon as you buy them. Washing results in loss of nutrients from upper layer and speeds up ripening.
- Pack loosely and separately: Vegetables and fruits stored closely to each other will foster ripening and rotting. Apples are notorious. Separate fruits and vegetables and store them separately but don’t over pack. Store in perforated cloth, plastic or paper wrapping. Avoid air-tight packing.
- Buy from local farmers markets: Loss of nutrients will be minimal. Local fruit baskets are tastier and fresher.
- Choose from back: Fruits and vegetables stored in front have higher nutritional value than those at the back, because of beneficial exposure to store light.
- Frozen is good: Frozen fruits and vegetables have more nutrients than those kept for a long time in stores.
- Purchase young: Buying young like baby spinach will help preserve more nutrients.
- Store in full: Do not store cut up fruits and vegetables. Keep them intact and cut only when ready to eat.
- Avoid cooking: Cooking destroys nutrients of fruits and vegetables. It is better to consume them raw or cooked lightly.
- Stone fruits: Other than cherries, stone fruits like apples, pears, melons, mangoes, tomatoes, etc will ripen when left on counters but items like citrus, bell pepper, berries and grapes will deteriorate and should be kept in fridge. Bananas and apples ripen quickly and cause other nearby fruits also to ripen and rot.
Here are some tips to keep fruits fresh:
- Apples: They produce ethylene while ripening, which will cause other fruits to ripen and rot. They can stay fresh on the counter for a week and more days in the fridge.
- Bananas: Place green bananas on the counter or on a banana hanger.
- Berries: Blueberries, Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. should not be washed till ready to eat. Store in closed, dry containers in the fridge.
- Grapes and cherries: Store unwashed in fridge, in plastic bags till ready to eat.
- Citrus fruit: Extend life span of limes, lemons and oranges by storing them in the fridge in mesh bags.
- Melons: Store honeydew and cantaloupe, loose in the fridge before ready to cut. Watermelon can be kept in a cool, dark and dry place. Cut melon must be refrigerated.
- Stone fruits: Keep plums, peaches, nectarines on the counter in paper bags till they ripen and then transfer them to the fridge where they will last for a few more days.
- Tomatoes: It is vital to store them at room temperature as they will rot in the fridge. Keep loose in a plate, away from heat or sun.
- Remember to give these tips to those for whom you have sent fruit by post.
These are some tips for storing and preserving fruits and vegetables with particular focus on fruits.
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