by Katherine Allen
ost people will know that when it comes to storing meat in the fridge, there are certain rules to follow—store raw meat and poultry on the bottom shelf of the fridge in sealed containers so that it does not drip onto other food, separate raw and cooked meats, for example. But what about fresh food? Fruit and vegetables are all the same, right?
If you want to ensure that fruit and vegetables taste delicious, and if you want to avoid throwing fresh food away, there are a few tips that will help.
Foods with a strong odor
You should be careful how you store foods that have a strong odor, such as onions and garlic. Some of that pungent smell can be absorbed by other foods. Apples and potatoes are known to absorb strong flavors very easily. Eggs will also absorb flavors from strongly smelling foods because of the porosity of their shells. If you want to avoid biting into an apple and tasting garlic, make sure the apples and garlic are stored separately.
Foods that cause premature ripening
The majority of fruits produce a gas called ethylene which allows them to ripen. As a ripening agent, it is so effective that ethylene (together with other chemicals) is often used commercially to force the ripening process to occur before it would start naturally.
Some fruits emit ethylene at a higher rate than others. Apples, bananas, avocados, melons, pears, plums and peaches are just some of the items that produce the highest gas levels. Oranges, cucumber and strawberries are examples of produce that generally have a low rate of ethylene production and are, in fact, ethylene sensitive. If you do not want ethylene sensitive produce to ripen too early, they should be kept away from the high ethylene producers.
The fridge is not always the best place to store fresh produce, and, in some cases, keeping items in a cold fridge can damage fresh fruit and vegetables. Cucumbers, for example, can become mushy and watery if left in the fridge as they are sensitive to the cold. Tomatoes often lose flavor if they are stored in cold temperatures, as they prefer warmer climates. Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, kale and spinach, as well as most berry fruits, respond well to the chilled environment offered by a refrigerator.
There are also temperature variations within a fridge. Door compartments are usually the warmest part of the fridge, and the bottom shelf is usually the coldest. The back of the fridge is also colder than the front. Some parts of the fridge are also moister than others. Many fridges now have symbols on them, for example, on the drawers, to try and show the user where specific items should be stored. There are guides online that can be used to identify the optimum storage temperature for different produce. Referring to these guides can help considerably reduce food waste that might otherwise occur due to incorrect storage.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are essential for healthy living and can make really tasty meals. However, buying them can be too expensive if you end up having to throw them away because they have gone bad. Learning how best to store these items to guarantee their freshness and maximize their taste is important to help manage the household budget and keep your family well fed.