As an old Internet meme once said, “Produce goes bad so much quicker when you’re the one buying it.”
While we’re not here to question the validity of that hilarious claim – all humor comes from some nugget of truth, after all – we are here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are a few tips and tricks you can use to make your fruits (and veggies!) last longer, and you can do them all from the comfort of your own kitchen!
Food waste is a huge problem across the globe, with the U.S. alone throwing away an average of 80 billion pounds of food every year – including a whopping $1,600 worth of produce annually for a family of four.
The problem may seem staggering, but the good news is: It’s not completely unmanageable.
In fact, when it comes to fruits and veggies, storage can go a long way toward helping your produce live a longer and fuller life.
Where, how – and how long – you put your food away when you get back from the farmer’s market can make all the difference. And while there’s no shortage of conventional storage wisdom out there, the rightful place for some of these fruits may surprise you.
It may sound like a nightmare for a human, but some fruits love the idea of some cave-like conditions, including:
Lemons, grapefruit, oranges and limes are known for their bitterness – and maybe this is why!
The fruits do well when kept in a cool, dark place, and while they’ll do alright if left on the counter, they can last even longer when put in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Most stone fruits (other than cherries – see below) prefer this type of alone time before blossoming into their ripest self.
Keep fruits like nectarines, peaches and plums in a paper bag on the counter until they’re ripe, then feel free to move them into the fridge, where they should last for a few more days.
You can move mangoes to the fridge once they’re fully ripened. But in order to get there, these fruits like a little chill and a bit of dark – a paper bag out on the counter might be their favorite happy place.
The exhibitionists of the fruit world, these pieces of produce don’t mind ripening in plain sight, letting us watch the whole beautiful process play out:
Perhaps the most notorious fruits to catch in a ripe place, these tricksters at least like to do their thing out in the open. Keep avocados on the counter until they reach that perfect place, then feel free to store them in the fridge for an extra day or two.
Bonus: When you use avocados treated with the all-natural plant protection of an Apeel coating, they’ll stay ripe two times longer than avocados from the store!
Maintaining their unfussy image, bananas don’t need much to ripen, other than a little counter space.
Bonus: Wrapping the bunch’s stem in plastic will slow down the ripening process even more.
This one tends to surprise people.
Tomatoes actually don’t do well in the fridge! The cooler temperatures make the Mediterranean-blooded fruits rot even faster. Instead, let them soak up the sun they love so well right there on the counter top.
The coolest fruits of all (Okay, we’ll see ourselves out for that one…) – these fruits do best when they’re allowed to chill:
Whether they’re blue, black, straw or rasp, you’ll want to keep these delicate delights in the fridge. Store your berries in a dry, covered container and don’t wash them until you’re ready to indulge – any extra water on their skin could lead to premature rotting.
Like their berry friends, these stone fruits prefer a bit of chill. Keep them unwashed, sealed in their package or under plastic, until they’re ready to be enjoyed.
Basically, if you like delicate fruit with thinner skin, you might want to invest in a bigger fridge. Grapes are another piece of produce that do best when kept, unwashed, in the fridge.
Bonus: Try storing them in the freezer for a better-than-ice-cream treat! Go ahead – the cold never bothered them, anyway.
Some foods just never learn to play well with others.
Whether it’s a bad attitude – or just a bit of science – these fruits do best when given a little breathing room:
We know, they seem so friendly, but apples are actually notorious emitters of ethylene gas – which makes any produce around them susceptible to premature ripening.
You can store apples on the counter for about a week, or in the fridge for a bit longer (the cool air actually reduces the impact of the ethylene) – just make sure to keep them socially distanced from any fruits you don’t want to see go ripe too quickly.
Another producer of the dreaded e-word, most melons need to stay a bit away from other fruits – that is, before they’re cut.
Once you chop these babies up into their delicious, juicy squares, it’s safe to put them in the fridge. Just make sure to keep them covered, or wrapped in plastic, to help keep them hydrated.
One of the fruit world’s most delightful treats, these pieces of produce have always stood out – so maybe that’s why they don’t like a crowd.
Treat persimmons like the star that they are by giving them the luxury of their own space. Trust us, the other fruits staying away from their ethylene-emitting skin will thank you, too.
And, of course, the best way to beat food waste is by only buying as much as you need – and remembering to eat all your fruits and veggies! So after you’ve properly filed your fruit away, find a few good recipes and do your part. Bon apatite!