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Storing fresh produce

After suffering through the cold, bleak days of winter, Minnesotans can go a little crazy with their summer gardens and farmers market visits. The abundance of fresh food is something worth celebrating, so make sure you get to eat your produce at its best by practicing some storage habits that prolong its usable life.

Think of the store

No matter where you purchased your fresh produce or if you grew it yourself, one quick way to figure how to store it is to think about where you would find that item at a grocery store. Was it unrefrigerated or refrigerated? Certain items like tomatoes, garlic, onions, melons, and potatoes are best kept out of the fridge until ripe or until you cut into them. Many other kinds of produce should be placed in cooler temperatures immediately.

Consult the experts

Nationwide, there is a growing focus on preventing wasted food- use this to your advantage! There are many online resources to teach you best practices for storing any kind of fruit or vegetable. A simple internet search may be all you need. For one example, the Save the Food campaign has a website solely devoted to helping you use up your food. You can even enable a skill for Alexa and get hands-free advice.

Don’t over-prep

If you’re interested in food, your social media feed could be peppering you with images of beautifully arranged prepared meals and snacks. While meal prepping can definitely save you time, money and waste, make sure not to overdo it. Fruits and vegetables last longer whole than if they are cut into pieces. Many fresh foods, like leafy greens or berries, last longer if you wait to wash them until right before use. Excess moisture causes faster decay. Practice smart preparation by limiting fruit and vegetable prep to no more than several days in advance.

Find your sweet spot

What works best for your household might take a little trial and error. Everyone has different space limitations and eating habits. Some people may find they eat up certain fruits or vegetables before they spoil even without recommended refrigeration, and others may need to find creative ways to use up their wilting food. The important thing is to take notice of what is spoiling and why, and then use that knowledge to find new ways to prevent wasted food in the future.