Storing fruits and vegetables can be tricky if you have too much and if they’re stored incorrectly, the speed of ripening can speed up unnecessarily. It’s one lesson I had to take time out to understand when I lived on my own.
As some fruits and vegetables ripen, they release ethylene, a gas that can cause other produce to become spotted, soft, or mealy. To prevent this, keep ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables separate from varieties that emit the gas.
A Few General Guidelines
- Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the “one bad apple” adage.)
- For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.
- For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.
Ethylene Producing Fruits
Ethylene Sensitive Fruits:
•Lettuce and other greens
Try to keep the ethylene producing fruits separated from one another and make sure the ethylene sensitive fruits are kept in a separate section too. You can find storage tips and a more extensive list of how to store vegetables and fruits without plastic from Washington’s Green Grocer. The list originated from the Berkley Farmer’s Market, and you can download their PDF of How To: Store Fruits and Vegetables and keep it for reference. There are still many different methods of storing fruits and vegetables, depending on how and if you prepare them before storing. I think this is a very helpful reference for those wondering how to go about eliminating it from fruit and vegetable storage.