Tips for properly storing seasonal produce

Summer is an exciting time for fruit lovers in the Philippines. Many local fruits are in season between April and June, and it’s common to see large amounts of mangoes, melons, jackfruits, and Java plums in the market during this period. People who incorporate a lot of vegetables into their diet also have something to look forward to during this time. While it’s possible to grow vegetables year-round in a tropical country, summer is a particularly good time to harvest beans, corn, cucumbers, greens, peppers, and sweet potatoes, among others. Fresh produce like this makes for great snacks and salad components, especially if you’re trying to eat lighter and healthier this season.

To maximize your haul of fresh fruits and veggies, you need to consider how to best store them so that they’ll stay fresh for longer. Perhaps you recently opted to buy inverter refrigerator and you’re planning to put everything in there for the time being. That’s a good start, but you should also know that not every fruit and vegetable needs to be refrigerated.

Some Items Are Better Stored Outside the Fridge

There are some fruits and vegetables that fare better when left on the counter or stored in the pantry. Unfortunately, the only way to take note of which goes where is to keep a list and commit that list to memory. Among the vegetables that should be kept out of the fridge are tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and ginger. When it comes to fruits, there are those that should be stored at room temperature until they’re fully ripe, after which they can be kept in the fridge. These include avocados, bananas, guavas, mangoes, melons, and papayas. Other fruits do equally well when left on the counter or stored inside the fridge. Take note that once a fruit has been opened or cut, it should be put in a container and stored in the refrigerator.

Not needing to refrigerate certain fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean that you can just leave them on the counter. Produce should be placed in a cool, dry, and dark place, as some have a tendency to sprout when exposed to sunlight.

On the other hand, there are fruits and vegetables that must be stored at low temperatures. Proper preparation is necessary to preserve their quality and extend their shelf life. Here are some of the essential tips you should know when storing summer produce in the fridge.

Refrain From Washing Them before Putting Them in the Fridge

It’s tempting to wash produce first so you can be sure it’s clean before storing it in the fridge. However, it’s best to refrain from doing so, as putting moist or wet items in the refrigerator can add to the internal humidity. The excess moisture, in turn, can negatively impact the freshness of produce and cause your fruits and veggies to rot earlier than they should.

Avoid Cutting Fruits and Veggies before Storing Them

Fruits and vegetables that are cut before storage are more likely to go bad faster compared to those that are stored intact. As much as possible, put these items whole in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness. Now, there are instances when you only need a portion of a fruit or veggie and have to store the remainder in the refrigerator. In this case, make sure to store these cut pieces in a covered container to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Check If the Item Will Do Better on the Shelves or in the Crisper

The crisper is a drawer in your refrigerator that is specifically designed to keep produce fresh. It does this by fostering a greater level of humidity compared to the regular shelves in your fridge. Some crispers can even be manipulated to provide the precise level of humidity needed to keep fruits and veggies fresh for a longer time. As a rule of thumb, vegetables do better in the crisper than on the shelves of the ref. If an item is prone to wilting, it should go into the high-humidity crisper. 

In the meantime, items that are prone to rot or overripening may be best kept on the fridge shelves or in a separate drawer. Fruits like bananas and apples can rot faster if stored in a high-humidity environment like the crisper drawer. Additionally, these items produce ethylene gas, which can affect the quality of your other fruits and vegetables. Storing them in a separate area ensures that the gas will not affect other produce.

Mind the Refrigerator’s Temperature and Humidity Level

If your refrigerator’s internal temperature tends to fluctuate, this can negatively impact the freshness of the fruits and vegetables you store in it. Should this happen, it’s best to have a professional check your kitchen appliance to determine the issue and solve it. This way, you’re less likely to waste food or get sick from eating spoiled food. Aside from keeping the temperature stable, check your fridge’s humidity level. Remember that different types of produce will have different moisture requirements, so you want to be able to maintain the optimal level of moisture in your fridge.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your produce and enjoy it without having to make daily trips to the market. However, do remember that fruits and vegetables have a limited shelf life, and a refrigerator can only help you extend this by a little bit. As such, it’s best to couple these tips with planning your purchases well and buying your summer fruits and veggies with a sense of purpose.