Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

"Make half your plate fruits and vegetables" is a key MyPlate consumer message to promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables for an overall healthy diet. They provide many vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and of course, water. Cool melon cubes, pineapple and orange slices, and berries are a few examples of fresh fruits that provide satisfying hydration on a hot summer’s day. Proper handling and storage ensures fresh fruits and vegetables maintain their taste and freshness longer and are safe for consumption.

·Fresh fruits and vegetables should not be washed before storage. However, if they are very dirty after harvest they should be rinsed with clean water (scrub firm ones like potatoes with a clean produce brush) and well dried before storing.

·Leafy greens are crisper when they are washed immediately and refrigerated.

·Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under clean running water just before serving or preparation.

·Store prepackaged (cut, sliced, peeled, etc.) fruits and vegetables in refrigerator drawers immediately after purchase.

·It is important to store fruits and vegetables separately because some fruits give off a gas called ethylene glycol which quickens ripening and may cause spoilage in some vegetables. Also, some fruits absorb odors from vegetables making them unpalatable.

Fruits and vegetables have distinct characteristics that affect how they should be stored, but in general they can be stored under three different storage conditions:

1. Those that you store in the refrigerator. Examples are apples (more than 7 days), apricots, blackberries, strawberries, cut fruit, cantaloupe, figs, honey dew, leafy vegetables, cabbage, carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet corn. Store fruits and vegetables in separate perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator drawer.

2. Those that you ripen at room temperature before storing in a refrigerator. Store them in a loosely closed brown bag to hasten ripening. Use them within 1-3 days in the refrigerator. Examples are avocado, kiwi, nectarines, peaches, pear, and plums.

3. Those that you store at room temperature only. Keep them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Examples are apples (less than 7 days), bananas, citrus fruits, unripe nectarines, pineapples, melons, peppers, tomatoes, basil (in water), cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, peppers, jicama, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Here are storage tips for some common fruits and vegetables:

·Keep the green tops on strawberries during storage.

·Trim taproots from radishes before storing.

·To store asparagus in the refrigerator, stand a bunch in a jug of cold water.

·Cut and peel pineapple soon after purchase, then chill. Do not store whole pineapple in the refrigerator.

Resources

1. Safe Storage of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

2. Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Best Flavor

3. Safe Handling of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

8/8/2012 10:00:56 AM
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