Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Storing Fruits and Vegetables Part 1

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away about 31.6 million tons of food every year!  A University of Arizona study found that the average family throws away 1.28 pounds of food every day.  That is a total of 470 pounds a year!  And that comes to about $600 each year.  I don't know about you but that is a lot of wasted food and a lot of wasted money. 

After reading these numbers I decided to go in search of ways to conserve my foods and money and quit throwing so much away.  I've looked at many articles and finally found a way to compile them in a way that will help us all.  Since the information is so lengthy I'm breaking it down into parts.

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas—a ripening agent—will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate. Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed-ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold proliferates rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately. For longer life, keep your produce whole—don’t even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it. “As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University, “you’ve broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow.”

 These are some of the produce items called 'Gas Releasers' and should be stored on the counter:

• Avocados
• Bananas, unripe
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Plums
• Tomatoes

Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Once they’re fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best flavor, return them to room temp. Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.
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