5 Tips to Make Your Produce Last Longer

kitchen tips to make your produce last longer

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.

separate bananas and make them last longer

ripen avocados quickly with a banana in a bag

To combat this, we un-bunch our bananas upon getting home and store them away from other fruits to slow down each banana ripening. On the flip side, when we want to ripen something, like a rock-hard avocado, we’ll nestle this next to a banana in a paper bag.

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:

kitchen tips make fresh herbs last longer
kitchen tips make fresh herbs last longer

  • 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.

contain fresh herbs to make them last longer

  • 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!

4. Freeze

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:

blanching vegetables before freezing to preserve
freezing over ripe vegetables to make them last

  • 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.

cut fruit into pieces before freezing
freeze ripe fruit pieces in a stasher bag
Stasher bags (also at Target)

If it looks like anything will ‘clump’, we’ll freeze everything spread out on a nonstick baking sheet before storing them in freezer bags.

freeze chicken stock coconut milk tomato paste cubes in silicon ice tray

Silicone ice tray (similar option at Target)

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.

grow scallions green onions at home from scraps
grow scallions green onions at home from scraps

  • 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!

Leave a Comment

27 Comments

  1. jengy wrote:

    Great tips!

    Celery also regenerates!

    https://www.allrecipes.com/article/regrow-celery-from-scraps/

    You can also plant the bottom of a celery bunch directly into the ground and it will grow back. I don’t know about you, but I always feel like a whole celery bunch will go to waste. This way, you just cut off the ribs you need.

    Thanks again!

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  2. Annie wrote:

    Might be a stupid question but do you store the herbs with the top on? And in the fridge?

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Annie, yes with the lid on and in the fridge! x

      Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  3. Kevin wrote:

    The way to store fresh herbs is a revelation! I’m always eating “sad” parsley and cilantro. I will try this tip out!

    Also, I like the idea of freezing chicken stock and other soup. I found a product at Sur La Table (and I think on amazon too) that is really good at that called “Souper Cubes” which are essentially extra big silicone ice cube trays that measured fill lines. (A bit pricier than the small ice cube tray) but I use it all the time now.

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I hadn’t heard of those trays, I’ll have to check them out!

      Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  4. Bela wrote:

    So many wonderful and practical ideas in this post! Thanks for sharing Jean. I’d love to try and grow scallions sometime. Currently, I’m trying to grow lemongrass with your method, since I love Seonkyoung Longest’s Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken. Have you tried making it? It’s delicious and it tastes good even with the leaner chicken breast. In terms of other tips, I recently bought some Rubbermaid Freshworks containers for onions, etc. and it seems to be working well.

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  5. A few other tips:

    1. Wrap the tops of your banana in saran wrap and keep them in the coolest place in your house but not the fridge! Both methods slow down ripening. Basements are common here in Utah, so that’s where we keep ours. It makes the bananas last an extra week longer.

    2. Grow your herbs. Stuff like cilantro grows reallly easily. You can keep a small pot in your window sill and trim off as needed so it’s always fresh!

    Posted 5.20.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Those are good tips, thanks for sharing Esther!

      Posted 5.20.20 Reply
  6. Anabelle wrote:

    Wow, each of these were incredibly helpful and seems simple to do. The ice cube tray is so creative. Now I wouldn’t need to stress about spaghetti sauce going bad in the fridge. For bananas, my mom had told me that wrapping the stems would help keep it fresh longer. I looked up why and it seems like wrapping the stem prevents the banana from releasing the ethylene gas you mention.

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  7. Tara Meyer wrote:

    Thank you for your helpful tips. I have tried a few of your recipes (Salmon dish with marinade, veggie pasta with pesto sauce and the egg drop soup). All fabulous and so easy to make. Keep them coming!!

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you Tara, I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  8. Aysha wrote:

    Hi jean,
    Where did you buy the ice cube try from ? I love it .

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Aysha, it’s from Target and I just linked it above within the post!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  9. celyn wrote:

    oh wow what a great post, these are some really great tips! I really hate having my produce go to waste! Especially if I cannot use them all up at once! I’m definitely also going to try growing the some scallions! Thanks you for all these tips!

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  10. Brandi wrote:

    Thanks for the tips! Im going to try the herb trick when I get home. I got some fresh cilantro yesterday in my grocery order. We always have a garden in the summer. We can tomatoes and I use them for salsa, soups, chili, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce etc. I also put up green beans, peas, butterbeans, corn, squash, okra to name a few. A deep freezer is a good investment!

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Yum – fresh garden veggies in the summer are such a treat!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  11. Darshna Patel wrote:

    I like using Rubbermaid Brilliance container to store my herbs. I use paper towel too, but I spread out the herbs in a layer and roll it up. So there’s way more surface area to soak up any moisture generated. I’ve successfully used a bunch of cilantro over 4 weeks, I feel like it would have stayed longer if I didn’t use it up.

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      That’s a great idea, thanks Darshna!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  12. Mireia wrote:

    These are really useful tips!

    Mireia from TGL

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  13. Anne wrote:

    I keep cut carrots and celery in mason jars of water in the fridge. You have to change the water of course but they stay fresh for a long time!

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I’ll have to try this!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  14. Briana wrote:

    I definitely needed these tips!

    Briana

    Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  15. Sam wrote:

    Hi Jean, do you put the lid on the container for the herbs or leave it off?

    Posted 5.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Sam, I put the lid on for the container of herbs!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
  16. ann wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    I love the ice cube tray. Which one would you recommend please? Thank you!

    Posted 5.18.20 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Ann, I just linked two similar options in the post above!

      Posted 5.19.20 Reply
      • ann wrote:

        Thank you Jean!

        Posted 5.19.20 Reply

Get the newsletter!

What updates would you like?