Fruit & Veg Storage Tips For A Longer Shelf Life
The World Food Programme (who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020) estimate that globally, a third of the food that we produce is lost or wasted. According to waste charity WRAP, in the UK that amounts to more than £19 BILLION worth of food every year. That works out at over £680 per household in the UK.
There are lots of ways to reduce food waste at home, and one of the easiest is to store your fresh fruit and vegetables so that they’ll last as long as possible.
The fruit and veg in your Fruutbox has a longer shelf life anyway, because we have a shorter supply chain than supermarkets – our produce hasn’t been sat in a distribution centre, then the back warehouse of a supermarket, then on the shop floor before it gets to you. Even so, we aim for it to be ripe and ready to eat, and there are a few tips that will help it last as long as possible.
The three things that you need to bear in mind when unpacking your Fruutbox are temperature, air-flow, and ethylene. Ethylene is a gas produced by fruit in varying amounts as it ripens, known as the “fruit-ripening hormone”. Some fruits produce a lot and some are super-sensitive to it, which is why most people are aware of the advice to keep their bananas separate from the rest of their fruit.
Here are a few of our favourite storage hacks for keeping your fruit and veg fresh for longer:
Apples and Pears
Both produce ethylene and should be kept in your fridge so that they are as cold as possible, unless your pears arrive a little under-ripe in which case they can sit in your fruit bowl until ripe and then transferred to the fridge. If you have multiple crisper drawers in your fridge then you could dedicate one to ethylene-producing fruit such as apples and pears to keep them away from ethylene sensitive produce. If you find one apple or pear going a bit over the top, then remove it (and use it!) – that saying about “one bad apple spoils the bunch” has stuck around for a reason!
Store in the fridge unless a little under-ripe, in which case a few days in the fruit bowl or in proximity to ethylene-producing fruit such as bananas should help to bring on the ripening process before you transfer to the fridge.
Blueberries and Strawberries
Don’t wash your blueberries before storing! Store berries (blueberries, strawberries etc) dry in a shallow container with good air circulation. Or, better still, invest in a Green Saver by Oxo (the same company who make the stock cubes). These tubs have an internal colander to allow air to flow around the contents, and an activated carbon filter in the lid to trap and absorb ethylene gas and keep the contents fresh for longer.
Keep these on your worktop or in a cupboard, but keep them away from other fruit and veg because they produce a lot of ethylene and will accelerate ripening. If you put them in the fridge they’ll not only make all the other produce in there go over too quickly, but they’ll also go brown.
To stop carrots going soft and a bit bendy over time, store them in your fridge in a jar of water and they’ll stay fresh and crunchy. You can even peel or cut them up first. When the water starts to go cloudy, tip it out and refresh it, and simply rinse before eating.
Similarly to carrots, you can keep cucumber fresh and crisp by storing it in the fridge with the stalk end in a jar or glass of water. This is easier once you’ve already eaten some though, so that it’s short enough to stand upright on a shelf in your fridge!
Keep your mushrooms in a cardboard tray or punnet in the bottom of your fridge, with a folded tea towel covering them and tucked down the sides so they stay cold and in the dark.
Store them with an apple! Potatoes are ethylene sensitive and keep best in a dark, cool, humid cupboard. If they get too warm they will start to sprout and if they get too cold (like in the fridge) they will go brown. Confusingly, if you store them with an apple then the ethylene will prevent them from sprouting, whereas storing them near onions will cause them to sprout. Best bet is to store them in a fabric bag (like a potato sack) with an apple thrown in for good measure, in a cool cupboard to keep them in the dark.
These should also be kept in a cool dark place, but contrary to potatoes they prefer low humidity, so some air flow is ideal.
For storage suggestions covering a whole range of foods and drinks, take a look at Love Food Hate Waste's A-Z Of Food Storage.
Also, keep an eye out in a month's time for the inaugural Food Waste Action Week, which is set to run from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 March 2021 and will be raising awareness around the environmental consequences of wasting food.