During this time, we’ve been trying to make our grocery trips as infrequent as possible. This has meant buying a lot of produce in advance, and it has sometimes been a challenge to keep it all fresh with minimal waste. I’ve picked up some tips here and there to make our fruits and veggies last longer, and wanted to share the ones I find the most useful!
1. Separate bananas
Bananas are a staple in our household (for easy banana muffins, pancakes, smoothies – you name it!), but when buying a large bunch, they tend to all turn brown at the same time. When stored with other fruits, they also speed up their ripening process. I read this is because some fruits release a gas (ethylene) that causes ripening, and bananas are one of them.
Extra tip: if you find yourself in need of a very ripe banana e.g. for baking, you can speed-ripen it with 30+ seconds in a microwave.
2. Contain herbs
We love using fresh herbs, but often only need a little at once for garnish, then the rest of the bunch often goes bad! Searching for various storage methods online, I picked up these quick tips that have stretched the shelf-life of our herbs:
- Remove any rubber bands or ties and pluck out any spoiled leaves.
- This gives the herbs room to breathe. Spoiled leaves create unnecessary moisture and speed up wilting.
- Store in a closed container with a paper towel.
- Containing them controls their temperature and the paper towel maintains the right humidity.
Doing this, I’ve found some of our herbs can stay fresh for up to a month!
Extra tip: these steps also work well for keeping larger leafy greens fresh (lettuces, spinach etc).
3. Slow fruits ripening in the fridge
Cooling down certain produce slows down their ripening process. While this doesn’t work for all produce (for example, it is not recommended to refrigerate whole fruit like whole melon, kiwi, avocado, or peaches until after they’ve had time to ripen at room temperature), this works well for other fruits, like citrus. For oranges we usually split a bag across two bowls: one for table and one for the fridge, so they ripen at different speeds.
Extra tip: If you’re juicing a lemon coming out of the fridge: microwave it for 10-20 seconds, until it is no longer cool to touch. Doing this first will help you squeeze more juice out of them!
If a fruit or vegetable is nearing over-ripeness, and I know we won’t be able to consume it in time, we freeze it! We love frozen pieces of overripe bananas for smoothies. There are different ways to do this, but as a general rule:
- Vegetables freeze best if blanched, as this sets their color and texture.
- Most fruits freeze well as they are. We’ll peel and cut up before freezing, so they’re ready to use.
If it looks like anything will ‘clump’, we’ll freeze everything spread out on a nonstick baking sheet before storing them in freezer bags.
Extra tip: I also LOVE freezing cubes of leftover liquid ingredients for easy use later, especially ingredients that you only usually need a little bit at a time. Using a silicone ice tray, they pop out easily, already portioned out for use.
5. Grow your scallions
Scallions are a staple in our household. A lot of Asian-style recipes will call for them (like these scallion pancakes), and we love using them as a topping (see them on our garlic noodles here!). If I don’t end up using the scallion whites for a recipe, I keep the roots in a jar by the windowsill to regenerate, instead of throwing them out.
- Keep ~2 inches of the white bulb end, with roots attached.
- Place in a clear jar of cold water. The water should cover the roots about an inch high, but the tops should be exposed, out of the water.
- Keep them by a windowsill with natural light. Don’t forget to change the water out every few days.
- These will grow in less than a week, and you can just snip and use the green parts as needed. Note, the regenerated scallions are usually a little less flavorful each time.
Do you have any tips and tricks you use to make your produce last? I’d love to know! To see what we’ve been cooking up, check my Extra Ap(Petite) archives!