Cooking Up Experiments!: Saving the Produce!

5:09 PM

I am here to tell you that something heart wrenching happened this week. I lost my produce as in most of it (the ones I didn't freeze) spoiled. :(

Maybe it's a first world problem and there are bigger things to grieve over out there. I do put such passion into what I try and do. I invest my time and energy into it so when it all goes to waste, it is devastating. A friend once dubbed me "Rebekah Ann with an E"(my middle name is Josann) from Anne of Green Gables for my dramatic flares. Hmm maybe there's truth to that...

How it occurred is when I came home, after I chopped, blanched, sorted, and froze the freezable produce (See: Cooking up Experiments: Freezing the Freezables), I stored the remaining vegetables and fruit: A cucumber in the fridge, apples, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes.
What I did not realize is that there are rules to storing vegetables and fruit! By gollee!

One morning about a week later (Yes only a week), I wake up to discover my tomatoes had tons of mold over both of them. Plump large juicy tomatoes. I then discovered that my potatoes that weren't old at all had sprouted tons of eyes so quickly. The next day Jason texts me to tell me that the apples had all gone rotten. The whole batch. I checked the cucumber since I was having a disastrous day already and wanted to check that out. It was soft and mushy.

Oh and my avacados in the fridge were hard as a rock for three weeks. Such a mystery. Sooo after posting a grief status on Facebook about this and desperately searching for answers to the mystery of the spoiled produce, I received all kinds of opinions on how to preserve food for longer. I also did my own research and found some interesting facts about it that I never knew existed! I though it would be worth sharing in case this has happened to anyone else.

Let's go by each piece of common vegetable and proper storing technique to ensure a longer life. This could also be a life hack of sorts and a frugal tip all wrapped up in one assuming these actually work!
Note that I haven't tried all of these yet, but am doing them little by little as needed. :)

Onions:

This is my favorite! 
The claim is that onions stored in pantyhose, tied in a knot in the middle, will last up to 8 months.

  • Do not store onions with potatoes. They will spoil faster. Onions kept in a cool dry place will last 2-3 months alone.
I don't have a place to hang these and I don't really need this many onions, BUT I'm curious to try to put them in panty hose and see if I can just set them on a counter in the kitchen like this. How cool would it be if this worked??

As for not storing onions with potatoes. My first mistake. My onions were right next to my potatoes. Fortunately, I have been able to save them. I didn't have them there very long.
The thought process of grouping vegetables with vegetables and fruits with fruits, really doesn't work that well...

Tomatoes:
  • Unripe tomatoes should be stored stem side down, in a paper bag or a single layer in a cardboard box in a cool area till they turn red in color.
  • Do not store tomatoes with fruit. Also speeds the ripening process unless you want them ripe sooner.
  • Perfectly ripe tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, on the counter away from sunlight, in a single layer, not touching one another, stem side up.
  • Over ripe tomatoes should be stored in the fridge. They need to come to room temperature before eaten. (I'm not sure why.)
  • Do not store tomatoes in plastic bags. The trapped ethylene will make them ripen faster AND grow mold.
It's disgusting. Really...don't do it.
I wish I knew this before I put my tomatoes in a plastic ziplock bag and left them out room temperature. I did open the top and thought they would be fine. I thought I was being smart to make sure the Autumn buggers creeping into our apartment lately wouldn't get to them. Nope. Bad move. I would have taken a picture of my molded tomatoes but I got real creeped out when I saw them and tossed them in the trash immediately. Instead I found this nice very similar to what happened to mine moldy tomato picture on google. Mold gives me the jeebies. 

Potatoes:

A Pinterest claim. Store apples with potatoes to keep them from sprouting.

  • This actually isn't true! Experts at apple farms would tell you to not do this. Potatoes give off their own gas and it causes apples to spoil faster. I learned the hard way because pinterest said to do this.
  • Potatoes should be used within 1-2 weeks at normal room temperature.
  • They can last up 2-3 months if stored in a cool dark area: 45 F - 55 F.
  • Cooked potatoes can be frozen.
  • Potatoes that are spoiling grow eyes and become soft, even showing some discoloration and lower quality of taste.
  • Never place potatoes next to onions. They will spoil each other.

Lettuce and Leafy Greens:

My husband and I eat salads pretty regularly. However I always buy the Spinach leaves cause I feel it lasts longer. I think I will invest in a cheap salad spinner on Amazon or something because every time I purchase these they end up going bad so quickly. Wilting and getting soggy to where I have to eventually cook them.
This is an article I came across for these. I'm not sure the accuracy on this, but the fact a restaurant uses this method makes it sound pretty credible:
Storing salad to make it stay fresh all week long.

What I have been doing is taking the greens from the bag when I buy them and putting them in a ziplock bag with two paper towels, squeezing the air out, sealing it, and putting it in the crisper with my refrigerated vegetables. It maybe lasts 5 days this way. I think a salad spinner would make it last a little longer.

Avacados:

  • If unripe store them at room temperature till they ripen abit and then immediately in the fridge. Otherwise they will be very hard.
  • Ripe ones should go in the fridge automatically.
 
A few weeks ago I bought some avocados and was so excited to eat them when I discovered they were hard as a rock in my fridge. I hadn't allowed them to ripen first...

Mushrooms:

These guys can be tricky! I buy these usually to put on salads, but I don't always use them fast enough before they get slimy.
Proper way to store mushrooms:
  • From the packaging at the store you should keep them in the packaging. Once you open them, wrap them tightly in saran wrap and then poke a few holes for them to breathe. Keep them on a shelf. Do not put them in the crisper.
  • From the market: Keep them in a brown paper bag on the shelf. They should stay fresh up to 2 weeks. You can also keep them in a cardboard box they might come in.

Apples:

  • Again DO NOT STORE THEM WITH POTATOES!
  • Firm apples last longer rather than ones like Red Delicious or those with soft skins.
  • 1 apple with a bad spot or bruise will spoil the whole batch. That isn't just a saying.
  • Store apples in the crisper in your fridge, in a place alone on a shelf in your fridge, or a dark cool place like a pantry though they can get soft faster this way. You will make them happy.
Unfortunately we have a cheap apartment fridge that doesn't have a meat and cheese drawer which means that we are sharing our crispers with meat and cheese and the other vegetables. The fruit now has to sit on the shelf. Ideally though they should be in the crisper. Separated. Never put fruit and vegetables in the same drawer. :)

Bananas

  • Never store bananas and apples together. They should also be separated and alone on a counter. They happily live the single life. :P
I have heard about the wrapping bananas with saran wrap to keep them from browning so fast. I have found this to be a myth. I tried this once, both on the stem and off the stem and didn't really find a difference. What I would say with this is just try to purchase very green bananas if you know you won't be breezing through them quickly. I've made two batches of banana bread too when they got too much. You also can freeze them for smoothies or baking if you like that.

As for proper refrigeration techniques, I found this article helpful: Refrigeration Reformation

I wanted to find a diagram that shows where the items are meant to be stored in a fridge, but I keep coming across them saying different things so I will further research this.

It was enjoyable to put this together. I hope this was an informative post and that you learned something new. I sure did!



*********
CHECK OUT MY LATEST BOOK SURE
TO BRING HOPE AND INSPIRATION THROUGH DARK TIMES!
NOW AVAILABLE!

LEARN MORE


*********
SUBSCRIBE TO NOT MISS A POST!
4 comments
Rebekah Samuel

AUtistic. 🧠 Artist. 👩🏻‍🎨 Author. ✍🏼 Life-Coach. 👊🏼 Techy. 🤓

I speak on faith, the military life, social issues, politics, ASD, mental health, and God's Word.
🔍 I am helping people heal through my writing, life coaching, and counseling. Check out my new book "Letters of Love"! ♥️

IF YOU WANT TO HELP SUPPORT ME IN MY WRITING, RESOURCES, AND MINISTRY,
PLEASE CONSIDER GIVING A LOVE OFFERING. THIS HELPS ME CONTINUE TO DO THE WORK I AM DOING.


Comments

  1. This is really great advice! Thanks! *goes off to separate her bananas and apples*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also found removing the bananas from the stem prolongs them too! I've recently heard refrigerating your bananas keeps them fresh longer as well. They turn black on the outside but the inside remans fresh and doesn't brown. Need to try this!

      Delete
  2. Hi Rebekah,
    I'm sorry I didn't respond to your message faster about storing produce! When I first got married I found that we were throwing away lots of produce as well. I have tried all sorts of tricks but what I do seems to work fairly well at this point. We have two drawers in our fridge. One is for vegetables and one is for fruits. I think you mentioned that you only have a crisper drawer and a cheese drawer? I think the meat and cheese would actually be fine just out in the regular area of the fridge. For organization sake you could just purchase a small plastic basket to store all of your meats and cheese. Then put your fruits in the crisper drawer and open the vent all the way. Then place all of your veggies in the meat and cheese drawer. Personally I leave out tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, and onions. I also usually purchase some lettuce that has already been washed that comes in a plastic container. In my experience this lasts a lot longer and it can stay in the regular area of the fridge. Hope this helps!

    Amanda Emerson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for replying Amanda! I have realized the way my comments were set up, it wasn't allowing me to reply to each comment and notify the visitor! So sorry about that! I fixed it now and so I'm going back and replying to old comments so ya'll don't think I ignored you!. We actually don't have any vents on our fridge. It's pretty plain. Just two drawers. Does leaving out the tomatoes make them ripen faster? That is what I have heard. But then I have read and heard that tomatoes lose their flavors when refrigerated. Which one of these is true? Or are they both true? As an update months later, I have been in a race every time I buy produce to get to it before it goes bad. I had to throw out a lot this week unfortunately because our life schedule and routine changed up so it was just me eating more at home with my husband working longer hours. I had stocked up cause of a major spring sale too and not sure if we were going to have the car! Never doing that again. It's been going better than it was then. I've learned a lot more. :)

      Delete

Post a Comment