Storing Produce Properly
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Why is it you can purchase the most beautiful produce, bring it home, then days later it is wilted and looks nothing like what you bought? Proper storage can be the issue.
Our refrigerators come with crisper drawers that should be used for optimal storage of most fruits and vegetables. Different fruits and vegetables require different temperature and humidity levels for proper storage. Most fresh fruits and vegetables keep best stored in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
Fruits should be stored in a separate refrigerator crisper drawer from vegetables. Fruits give off ethylene gas which can shorten the storage life of vegetables. Plus, some vegetables give off odors that can be absorbed by fruits and affect their quality.
Refrigerate fruits and vegetables in perforated plastic bags to help maintain moisture yet provide air flow. These bags are available in most supermarkets and discount stores and have a slightly rough texture. Un-perforated plastic bags can lead to the growth of mold or bacteria. If you don’t have access to food-grade, perforated bags, use a sharp object to make several small holes in a food-grade plastic bag (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).
There are some foods that taste best when stored at room temperature. These include onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and winter squashes. They should be stored in a clean, dry, well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight and away from areas where meat, fish, and poultry are prepared. Avoid placing produce in a sealed plastic bag on your countertop. This slows ripening and may increase off-odors and decay from the accumulation of carbon dioxide and depletion of oxygen inside the bag.
To prevent cross contamination, store meats on pans or plates below the produce to prevent meat juices, which may contain harmful bacteria, from dripping on them.
Probably one of the hardest rules to follow is wash produce before you use it, NOT when you bring it home! Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that helps keep in moisture and freshness. Washing produce before storage causes it to spoil faster.
When you are ready to use the produce, remove and discard outer leaves. Rinse under clean, running water. Don’t use soap or detergent. Rub briskly, scrubbing with a clean brush or hands, to clean the surface. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Moisture left on fruits and vegetables helps bacteria grow. Cut away bruised and damaged areas.
Bacteria on the outside of produce can be transferred to the inside when they are cut or peeled. Rinse produce, even when the peel is going to be removed, such as for melons and citrus fruits! Once you have cut through the protective skin of fruits & vegetables, bacteria can enter. At this point all fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated, including melons. And don’t forget to refrigerate cut or peeled fruits and vegetables within TWO hours! No exceptions!
Click for your free Storage Chart for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Miller County or you may call 870-779-3609 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For this chart and other information, follow me on facebook, twitter and Instagram.
If you are looking for fresh produce, visit the farmers market. Here you can find locally grown fresh produce including new potatoes from which you can make new potatoes with garlic dill sauce. The potatoes are gently tossed in a dill-garlic sauce before serving. It takes only 10 minutes prep time and will be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
New Potatoes with Garlic Dill Sauce
8 medium red potatoes with skins on, washed well, and cubed
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
One fourth teaspoon salt
Steam potatoes in a steamer basket, for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. In a small bowl, stir together the margarine, dill, garlic, and salt. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl, and pour the garlic dill sauce over them. Toss gently until they are well-coated. Serve warm or cold.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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