Food Hacks: How to Preserve Produce
By Jenny Pham
Produce can be tricky and its shelf life sometimes refrains us from achieving the healthy diet we always strive for – at least that’s what we tell ourselves, right? Often times fruits and veggies spoil before we can even get to them. With busy schedules, we don’t have time to make constant trips to the grocery store to buy fresh produce. It’s just not practical and we often end up opting for frozen or packaged food.
Luckily, there are tons of hacks to preserve produce. Although they will eventually spoil, these tips and tricks are meant to prolong the lives of fruit and vegetables so you have more time to plan ahead and cook them in time.
Let’s start with the fruits.
- Avocado: You can’t go wrong with avocados, it is such a craze that people even pay EXTRA to have it incorporated into their burrito bowls! Often times, these precious fruits often ripe and rot all too quickly for us to enjoy. Here are a couple tips on tackling avocados:
- Speed up the ripening process: Bought a rock-hard avocado at the store? Place it in a dark, room temperature place like your cupboard. Try to avoid putting it in the fridge as this will slow down the ripening process and you will be left with an eternally unripened avocado.
- Preserve your ripened avocado: So now that you have a ripe avocado, you want to enjoy it but don’t want to eat the whole thing. Cut the avocado in half, leave the pit in, and squeeze lemon or lime juice onto the uneaten half. Tightly wrap with foil and place in a plastic baggie then place it into your fridge until the next use! These steps will stop the oxidation process and prevent your avocado from browning.
- Bananas: Another tricky fruit that ripens way too quickly. Depending on our preference, we need to watch bananas closely to be able to enjoy it at the preferred ripened state. Some people love a good green, flavorless banana, some like them medium yellow, and others love a good ripened brownish yellow banana when it is at its sweetest state. Regardless of your preference, here are a few tips on how to handle bananas:
- Place bananas in a room temperature environment (i.e., the countertop) and enjoy once they reach your preferred ripened state.
- Do not place in the fridge until it is at the preferred state – this will slow down the ripening process.
- Berries – This includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or even blackberries. Avoid washing them until right before you enjoy them to avoid mold growth.
Now onto the vegetables:
- Greens – lettuce like mixed greens, spinach, arugula often attract moisture if they are left in the fridge for too long. Add a paper towel to your salad bag and seal tightly to soak up the unwanted moisture.
- Place certain produce on your countertop rather than in your fridge – It may be your gut instinct to place onions, tomatoes, and potatoes in the fridge but doing so may take away from their flavors. Place these on your countertop until you slice into them. Then, they go into the fridge thereafter.
- Store veggies in the crisp drawer of your fridge – These drawers are there for a reason, store your produce in here to keep them fresh and crisp!