Is there anything more frustrating than buying fresh produce and having it go bad within a few days?
Well, I find it very annoying.
Since the lockdowns, I’ve been ordering local fruit and veggie boxes and some deliveries from our supermarkets.
Therefore I have no opportunity to inspect and choose only the freshest produce. I receive what the packer wishes to send to me.
Inspecting everything at the store before check-out definitely helps. But right now, I must make do with this situation. I actually have a favourite list of items I buy regularly because I know they will stay fresher for longer.
I recently read that in 2020 up to 40% of food grown in the US was thrown out. I can’t find a percentage for the UK, but one statistic from Cheaper Waste in the UK wrote that up to £10.2 billion of food is wasted. ☹
A large proportion being not-so-fresh veg and fruit. By the way, that website has some interesting reading.
Anyway, back to trying to reduce our own food waste by selecting some longer-lasting items.
Here are some of my fruit and vegetables that I like to buy on a regular basis.
They ensure I always have something nutritious on hand.
1. Butternut Squash and pumpkins.
You can store them on the kitchen bench or in a dark cool pantry. No need to place them in the fridge.
Under the right circumstance, they can keep for months. But store them also in a cool dry place or else they start sprouting.
My onions happily sit in a mesh bag for quite some time. Red onions [sometimes called Spanish onions in Australia] have more antioxidants than brown ones. Any veg or fruit with a dark purple colour is higher in antioxidants, especially anthocyanin.
But because purple onions have a distinctly sweet flavour, I also keep some of the brown ones for certain recipes.
They tend to go off faster if you keep them in the plastic bag they come in because condensation can accumulate inside them. If I can’t buy loose carrots, I add a paper towel inside the bag to absorb the moisture. This trick helps to keep them nice and crunchy for a long time. I’ve noticed that baby carrots tend to go off quicker…so I stick to the large, fully grown variety.
Did you know that some of the carrot’s antioxidants are made more bio-available by cooking? It breaks down the cell structure allowing easier digestion of the nutrients that are trapped inside.
Shame I don’t like cooked carrots much. 😣
4. Sweet Potatoes.
Buy the strongest coloured orange ones for more vitamins and antioxidants. Again, cooking releases more of their nutrients. It’s a delicious high fibre vegetable that you can cook or bake first, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and their resistant starch increases a little. The next day reheat it or eat cold and enjoy a lower blood sugar spike due to their increased resistant starch content. By the way, this works with all starchy high carb foods to various degrees.
Such a versatile vegetable. This is how we are supposed to store them: don’t wash the cabbage until you’re ready to use it, and handle with care — bruising is going to seriously shorten the life of the cabbage (I never knew this) — and try to keep it in a hydrator drawer if you can. Last but not least, don’t remove the outer leaves. They protect it from drying out.
And then there are the other root vegetables like swede, also known as rutabaga, beetroot (remove the green leafy tops and they’ll last longer), and of course white potatoes (store in a cool dark place, but NOT in the fridge)
Let’s look at some fruit.
I usually keep them out on the bench because I don’t like them cold, but they’d keep longer in the fridge.
2. All citrus fruit.
I suppose it’s their thick skin that protects them. They last longer in the fridge but don’t bag them up into plastic. They’ll go mouldy quicker that way.
Again, the thick skin keeps them fresh. Out on the bench, about 1-2 weeks. In the fridge much longer. 4-6 weeks. However, if you only buy the seeds, they freeze very well.
4. Pears last a good while if you buy them when they’re still very firm.
5. And when buying blueberries which last a little longer than raspberries, sort through the container. Pick out and discard any spoiled ones before storing them. Keeping them together will cause the others to go bad faster.
So these are ten fruit and veg that rarely spoil when I store them correctly. 🤩