Sunday, August 14, 2016

Extend the Life of Your Produce

Often when I visit the Farmers' Market, I am excited to see the fresh produce and purchase more than my family can eat in a few days.  If you have this same problem, here are a few tips to help you store your produce for a longer shelf life.

Refrigerate ripe fruits and vegetables to slow down the enzymes that begin to break down produce once it is picked.

Refrigerate fruits and vegetables in perforated plastic bags to help maintain moisture yet provide air flow. Unperforated plastic bags can lead to the growth of mold or bacteria. If you don’t have access to commercial, food-grade, perforated bags, use a sharp object to make several small holes in a food-grade plastic bag (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).

Wash produce before you use it, NOT when you bring it home! Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that helps keep in moisture and freshness. Washing produce before storage causes it to spoil faster. Remove and discard outer leaves.

Vegetables such as potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool place in a bag that allows air flow.  Do not store where they will freeze.

Consider freezing excess produce for use later.

Before using any produce rinse under clean, running water just before preparing or eating. Don’t use soap or detergent as it can get into produce and make you sick. Rub briskly — scrubbing with a clean brush or hands — to clean the surface. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cut away bruised and damaged areas.  Rinse fruits and vegetables even if they have a peel which will be removed (such as melons and citrus fruit). Bacteria on the outside of produce can be transferred to the inside when they are cut or peeled.

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