Waste Not, Want Not - How To Keep Produce Fresh
Conscious Living

Waste Not, Want Not - How To Keep Produce Fresh


27 February 2016


We’ve all been there – opening up the fridge to enjoy the fruit that was bought just a few days ago only to discover that it has over-ripened or has rotted.


Have you ever wondered why your fruits and vegetables sometimes spoil before you even get to use them? Apart from the disappointment of not being able to consume the produce, it is also a waste of food and money.

The trick to this it seems, is in the storing of the produce. Below are some tips on how to keep your fruits and vegetables fresher for longer.

Keep them Apart

Certain fruits and vegetables need to stored separately and away from others. These fruits and vegetables produce a gas called ethylene (a ripening agent) and if kept together with those that are sensitive to this gas, you will get fruits and vegetables that will spoil faster than you can consume them.

Ethylene-producing - apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, etc.

Ethylene-sensitive - apples, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, lettuce, leafy greens, potatoes, watermelons, etc.

Note: You can also make ethylene gas work for you. If you need bananas to ripen quicker, just keep them in a closed bag. The ethylene trapped in the bag will help quicken the ripening process.

To Refrigerate Or Not To Refrigerate

Not only do you need to know which ones have to be separated, where you store your produce is also key to them lasting longer. Although we may be inclined to believe that everything lasts longer when refrigerated, this is not always the way to go.

Refrigerate - apples, apricots, canteloupe, figs, honeydew Do not refrigerate - avocados, bananas (unripe), nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, onions

Note: The flavours of some produce may be affected by cold, for example onions. These should be kept in a cool dry place but not in the refrigerator.

Keep Away From Sunlight

Fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator should be kept away from direct sunlight, and in a cool and dry place.

Wash Only Before Eating

As much as possible, only wash your fruits and vegetables right before you use them. This is to avoid extra moisture that speeds up spoiling. If you prefer to wash them before storing them however to get rid of pesticides and other chemical residue, use a 10 parts water and one part vinegar mixture to wash them. Make sure they are dried properly before putting them away.

Keep Them Whole

Avoid cutting your fruits and vegetables before storing them. Try to keep them in their whole state as cutting them will break the cells and encourage the growth of microorganisms, causing them to rot faster.

Plan Your Grocery Shopping

If you have several places to go, make sure you buy your fruits and vegetables last. This will avoid them being in the sun or heat for too long.

Also, you should only buy what you plan to consume in the next few days. Should you only be able to go grocery shopping once a week however, there are still ways to avoid having to throw away your fruits and vegetables. Make it a point to consume the ones which would spoil the fastest. You can also buy fruits such as bananas that are still green or maybe pears that aren’t quite ripe yet as they will last longer and eaten later.

Keep A Close Eye

Make sure you throw away any rotten fruits or vegetables immediately or put them in your compost heap. Otherwise, it will spoil the rest of your produce. You should also store your fruits and vegetables where you can see them so you don’t forget to eat them!


Get more tips on how you can stock up on your groceries without burning a hole in your pocket.