We’re all told that adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to our diets can help us lead healthier, disease-free lives. But nothing is worse than looking in the fridge or pantry days after grocery shopping and finding rotten fruits, moldy vegetables and — worst of all — a ton of money down the drain.
The fact is there is a science to storing fruits and vegetables. Each one has its own unique needs when it comes to factors like water, sunlight and containment. The spectrum is wide, too.
Cucumbers, for example, should be stored in the fridge with a damp cloth wrapped around them while potatoes can last weeks in a cool, dry, dark pantry.
There are some foods that should never be wet when storing, like strawberries, which can easily grow mold. However, keeping celery stalks cut and in water preserves them for a longer period of time.
Tomatoes, bananas, oranges and plums can be left out on a counter at room temperature. But leave out cherries and you’ll be tossing a bunch of squishy globs of mold in a few days’ time. Even herbs have different storing needs, depending on the type. Leafy herbs like mint, parsley and basil should be kept in a damp paper towel in the fridge. Woody herbs like thyme, lavender and oregano should stay in separate sealed containers to maintain their aromas.
It’s no secret that Americans are notorious for wasting food. Some estimates say almost half of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. goes to waste. When you store your fruits and vegetables correctly, not only are you saving yourself some green, but you’re helping the planet stay a little greener, too.