Updated: Apr 4, 2022
There are a bunch of common sense reasons for wanting your produce to last as long as possible. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive, for starters, and can lead to food waste if left in the fridge too long. About 94% of tossed food ends up in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A lot of this can be avoided simply by understanding how to purchase, store, and prep your produce to last as long as possible.
So, the next time you’re ready make a grocery run, consider these 10 produce picks that last far longer than you’d expect—as long as you store and use them correctly.
Apples and pears last longer than any other tree fruits, according to the University of Maine, and can keep for up to 4 months under the right conditions. Most apples will thrive when stored around 32°F; the only exception is Honeycrisp, which is prone to "chilly injury." Store those at 36°F.
Eat the largest apples in your bag first; they're usually the first to go bad. If you want your apples to last for weeks, keep them in a plastic bag in your fruit crisper drawer, away from vegetables (the ethylene gas they emit will cause other vegetables to ripen faster).
Beets can last between 2-4 months in the refrigerator. First, cut off the greens if they're still attached, and then store them in a perforated plastic bag in your vegetable crisper.
Cabbage tastes best when it's fresh, but it can last for up to 2 months wrapped in plastic in your fridge. Use it as a stand-in for lettuce or other delicate leafy greens in salads, since most salad greens wilt within days due to their high water content.
The key to making carrots last is keeping them dry, as they give off a lot of moisture, which causes them to rot more quickly. If you buy carrots in a plastic bag, place a paper towel in the bag to absorb any moisture and change it whenever it gets saturated. This can keep them fresh for afew weeks to a few months.
A root vegetable available mostly at farmers' markets, celeriac is the root of celery plants and has a mild celery-like flavor. Celeriac likes moisture, so store it wrapped in plastic on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Even after it's cut, celeriac will keep for a full week if wrapped well.
Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60-65°F and moderate humidity. Unless you have an older, very dry home, your garlic should do fine in a dark kitchen cabinet. You can also store whole bulbs in the fridge in a paper bag (cut garlic will make all your other food taste like garlic), where the bulbs will last for months.
Store onions in a dry area where the temperature stays between 30-50°F, and they'll keep for up to a year. If you don't have a place like that, keeping them in mesh bags (like the kind used to package grocery-store onions) and storing them in a dark cabinet will let them last for up to a month, and perhaps longer.
The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 40°F, which is on the warm end of most home refrigerators, and they don't like light, which can cause them to turn green. (Sweet potatoes don't last very long in storage, so eat those within a week of purchase.) Basements or cellars usually provide perfect potato-storage conditions that will keep them from rotting for between 2-4 months. Keep them away from onions and apples, wherever you store them, as both emit gases that speed up the ripening process.
Winter radishes, like the daikon variety you might see at grocery stores, are much more pungent than the red varieties you get on spring salads, so don't load up on too many if you're looking for a healthy supply of fresh veggies. Store them as you would carrots, with their greens removed and in a plastic bag accompanied by a paper towel to absorb moisture. They'll last for up to a month.
Pumpkins, butternut squash, and other varieties of hearty winter squash will last between 2-6 months if kept in a dark cabinet. Keep all your squash in a single layer in your cabinet so air can circulate around them.
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