High-quality fresh food is in right now. First Lady Michelle Obama has planted a fruit-and-vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House; government incentives are luring supermarkets stocked with fresh produce to low-income neighborhoods; and Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto—perhaps best summarized by its "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." rules—is on best-seller lists.
And, of course, with summer here, your kitchen is likely to see a lot more fruits and vegetables as the bounty reaches supermarkets and farm stands. (Find a farmers market in your state.) Eating abundant amounts of fresh food can be more healthful but can also lead to a kitchen full of rotting perishables if you buy more than you can prepare and eat before all those locally grown fruits and vegetables head south. In fact, produce is the most thrown-out food in U.S. households.
People who follow a "Vegan Before 6"—VB6—regimen might be among those who face fresh-food-storage issues. Food writer Mark Bittman coined the term. He says he noshes on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes during the day (before 6 p.m.) and eats meat—or anything else he craves—for dinner.
To keep spoilage to a minimum and avoid wasting money, follow the food-storage advice here. Note that temperature patterns vary in refrigerators, so get to know the colder and warmer zones in yours to maximize freshness.
In the refrigerator, keep . . .
Apples in a cool zone away from strong-smelling foods, so they won't absorb odors. If the refrigerator is jammed, you can also store apples in a cool, dark place.
Beets in the crisper; lop off greens before refrigerating and use them in a salad or cook them as you would spinach and other greens.
Berries in a warmer zone of the refrigerator, unwashed, in a dry, covered container.
Broccoli in the crisper.
Celery in the crisper.
Cherries unwashed, in a plastic bag, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator.
Corn with husks on, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator.
Grapes unwashed in a plastic bag or their plastic clamshell container, in a cool zone; pick out any spoiled grapes, since one bad one can spoil the bunch.
Green beans in an airtight container in a moderate zone; don't snap off ends until they're ready to be used.
Leafy greens in a salad spinner (if you have one and have room in the fridge) after washing or in the crisper. Otherwise, keep washed greens in a plastic bag lined with a clean cloth or paper towels; loosely tie top of bag to maintain moisture.
Melons, once they've ripened, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Wash the outside of a melon before cutting to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Mushrooms unwashed, in a paper bag, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Never store them in plastic, which traps moisture and leads to slime.
Peppers in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Leave them whole, and unwashed.
Yellow squash/zucchini in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Leave them unwashed, and use within two or three days of purchase.
Outside of the refrigerator, keep . . .
Avocados in a brown-paper bag; add an apple or banana to the bag to accelerate ripening.
Bananas in a fruit bowl on the counter.
Onions in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place. Store them away from potatoes, since they can absorb the potatoes moisture and spoilage-inducing ethylene gas.
Stone fruits, including nectarines, peaches, and plums, in a brown-paper bag at room temperature to speed ripening. Refrigerate once ripe.
Potatoes in a cool place, away from light. Don't refrigerate, since the moisture will encourage sprouting.
Tomatoes always at room temperature but not in direct sunlight.—Daniel DiClerico | e-mail | Twitter | Forums | Facebook
Essential information: If you're shopping for a new refrigerator, read our free buying advice and check the ratings (available to subscribers) to find out which models are the most energy efficient and do the best job at controlling temperatures. Also, learn about the real capacity of refrigerators.
I always wash fruit before putting it in the frig, and I do not have a problem with it spoiling. However, I do dry the fruit, e.g. I wash the blueberries and then put them in a strainer to dry. I also pat them with a paper towel before putting them back in their plastic container. I then put them in the fruit drawer. I think this is more sanitary. I do not want dirty fruit in my refrig. I also wash apples and grapes before refrigerating them. I also wash tomatoes, dry them, ;and put them in the vegetable drawer. I do not have a problem with any spoilage. And, I don't know about your refrig., but mine doesn't have any "warm zones".
You know, reading an article about caring for fruits and vegetables should indicate that I really, really don't give a fig about Michelle Obama and how much garden she has her hired help see to. Quit sucking up to the Prez.
Thanks for the veggie and fruit tips. Fridge is full of goodies from my garden and local Farmer's Market so need to make sure I don't feed the compost pile with Nature's Bounty instead of my family. Sorry Catmoves that our First Lady's garden isn't to your liking. Some of us find our President and First Lady to be inspiring in many ways. One is to play nice. Let's all learn to use the internet as a means to communicate nicely whether openly or when hiding behind code names. I want my internet to provide me information I can trust without wadding through someones anger.
Quailfarm, I couldn't have said it better myself to Catmoves!
I have been using the Debbe Meyer Green Bags, but after reading this, I think I'll save those bags just for bananas, and try regular plastic bags or zipper tops bags instead. Yesterday I almost bought a ethylene gas remover powder that goes in a plastic canister and supposedly lasts for 3 months. But then I thought I'd check CR first. Thanks, CR! You saved me ten bucks!
I notice that moisture collects in the plastic bags, and it's a pain to keep trying to clean all that out or change the bags every single day. I've been putting a paper towel in the bag and just swapping that out instead, when it gets too moist. But I honestly don't know if that's a good idea, or not. Has anyone tried using those small dessicants that come in some pill bottles? Can they be used for veggies and fruits in plastic bags in the fridge, and would that work?
Those Debbie Green bags are worthless, even for bananas. All they do is keep the outside looking fresh while the insides rot just as fast.
Plus you all need to chill (in the freezer). I bet you never got this upset when the media was going on about Nancy Reagan and her "just say no" programs.