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Dr. Corinne: Staying Healthy by Eating Healthy, How to Properly Store Fruits & Veggies for Maximum Life
Dr. Corinne Weaver : Nov 13, 2020 Dr. Corinne Weaver
Storing produce in plain sight will also remind you to eat them!
Eating healthy requires more fruits and veggies but fresh produce can be expensive. There's nothing more annoying than getting to your fruits and veggies one day too late when they're no longer edible. Let's explore tips and tricks that you can use to extend the shelf-life of your produce. (Image: Pixabay)
Which fruits and veggies should sit on your kitchen counter or in a fruit bowl? The ones that are more sensitive to cold temperatures and actually stay fresher when stored at room temperature!
Garlic, Grapefruit, Green Beans
Summer Squash, Sweet Potatoes
Watermelon, Winter Squash
If you've been storing these fruits and veggies in the fridge, they're taking up valuable space! Keep them on the counter instead. Storing produce in plain sight will also remind you to eat them!
These types of produce prefer chillier temperatures and will stay fresher for longer if they live in the fridge:
Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cherries, Cilantro, Corn
Dark leafy greens
Parsley, Peas, Pomegranate
Some fruits and veggies are more temperamental and prefer to be stored on the counter until ripe, then moved to the fridge to stay ripe.
Temperamental items include:
Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Plums
Determining whether to store your produce in or out of the fridge is only half of the battle—the other factor you have to consider is whether you can store specific fruits and veggies together, or if you should separate them.
As a rule of thumb, keep apples, avocados, stone fruits, pears, bananas, and tomatoes away from other fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens—the ethylene gas that these fruits and veggies release can speed up the ripening process into hyperdrive.
Gas producers include:
Apricots, Apples, Avocados
Gas sensitive fruits and veggies include:
Bananas (ripe), Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cucumbers
Squash, Sweet Potatoes
Looking for rock hard avocado to ripen in time for taco Tuesday? Place it in a paper bag with a ripe banana! You can do the same with stone fruits like peaches, plums and apricots.
Ethylene is a plant hormone that's often thought of as an 'aging hormone' for plants of all kinds.
Fun fact: Nearly 100 years ago, researchers noticed that trees that were closer to gas street lamps had leaves that were wilting faster than trees that were stationed further away from gas lamps.
Onions should be kept in a dry, dark space, but separated from fellow dark and dry pantry dwellers such as potatoes, winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkins), sweet potatoes and watermelon. Why? Because they like to share their scent, and no one wants watermelon tinged with a hint of onion.
Onions that are nestled up against potatoes will cause them to wilt and sprout more quickly than they would if onions weren't present.
Scallions or green onions can go slimy or dry out pretty quickly if you store them incorrectly—next time you bring a bunch home from the store, place them in a tall glass or jar and fill the container with about two inches of water. Place a ziplock bag on top of the whole thing and stick it in the fridge.
When you use a scallion, don't throw away the white root! Instead, place it in another jar with some water and let it sit in the sunlight. Within a day or two, it will start resprouting, and you'll get a whole new bunch for free!
Once you slice fruits, they won't last as long as they do while they are whole. Fruits like apples, pears, bananas, and avocados shouldn't be sliced ahead of time if it can be helped since they'll brown quickly.
If you must prep something like apple slices ahead of time, submerge them in a bowl of cold water along with some lemon juice.
Avocados contain enzymes that create a brown pigment when exposed to oxygen, which is why your guacamole looks super unappetizing the day after you make it.
To avoid sliced avocado from going brown, squirt it with lemon or lime juice—the citric acid will buy you at least another day of green. You can also store sliced avocados in a container with large pieces of onion because the same gases that make your eyes burn when you chop up those bad boys will also help prevent oxidation in your avocado.
Another option to prevent browning is to keep the pit! Place the pit in the center of your guac or store a half-cut avocado with the pit in place. An alternative is to mash up your avocado, place it in a bowl or container, then cover it with a layer of water. This layer protects the avocado from oxygen, and because the avocado is dense, it won't soak up the water. Just pour it out before eating and add more when you're done!
Spinach and lettuce wilting too quickly? The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep the leaves dry! The best method for washing and storing leafy greens is to separate the leaves from the head and soak them in cold water for about five minutes. Then you'll want to gently swirl the leaves in the water and transfer them to a salad spinner to dry. If you don't have a salad spinner, you can use a large clean and dry dishcloth to gather and wrap leaves in, then gently bounce and shake excess water off. Transfer them to another dry towel to dry off completely, because storing wet leaves can turn your greens into a mushy mess almost overnight. Once you've got your greens rinsed and dried, line a container with paper towels and place them inside. The hard sides of the container will help protect the tender leaves from getting crushed, and the paper towels will absorb excess moisture.
Berries are delicate and hate to be wet—I've found that the best way to handle them is to fill a large bowl with cold water and add a few tablespoons of white vinegar (don't worry, you won't taste it). Gently let the berries go for a swim in the liquid, then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Keep them in a strainer, microwave steamer, or any storage vessel that allows air to filter through it—including the clamshell containers they usually come in. DON'T put them in a sealed container—the trapped moisture will make them wilt faster.
NEVER refrigerate potatoes, onions, squash or garlic. The cold temperatures will change the texture and flavor of your foods. With potatoes, the cold temperatures will turn starch into sugar more quickly, leaving you with a grittier, sweeter potato that you probably want. While you're at it, know that storing tomatoes in the fridge can also change their texture and cause them to lose flavor—so opt to keep them on the counter instead.
Crisper drawers in your refrigerator have different levels of humidity from the rest of your fridge—which can help optimize freshness. While these drawers may seem like the perfect place to store odds and ends or a six-pack of beer, utilizing them for produce can keep your fruits and veggies fresher for much longer.
In some refrigerators, you'll be able to adjust the humidity setting for each drawer. If this is the case, you'll want to store thin-skinner or leafy vegetables (asparagus, fresh herbs, greens) that are prone to wilting or losing moisture quickly in the high-humidity drawer.
High ethylene-producing fruits should be stored in low humidity because an open vent (less trapped humidity) will allow ethylene to escape.
If you don't have humidity controls, still try and separate your produce by ethylene production.
Are your strawberries looking a little sad? Do your mangoes need to be eaten ASAP? Are bananas on the verge of turning completely brown? Instead of forcing yourself to eat foods or throw them away, chop them up and freeze them!
Use this method too if you buy in bulk and know that you won't be able to finish them in time. Here's a list of fruits and veggies that freeze exceptionally well.
With the exception of basil, fresh herbs like to be stored in the fridge with a damp (but not soaking wet) paper towel to keep them fresh. If you wish, you can also store them like a little mini bouquet of flowers by trimming an inch or so off the stem, placing them in a jar of water, covering them loosely with plastic and sticking them in the fridge. Do the same for basil but keep it on your counter—it prefers to stay warm and also has a tendency to pick up on the smells of things around it.
A common mistake I see is storing mushrooms in plastic. The plastic traps moisture and causes the mushrooms to get moldy and slimy—they are fungi after all! Next time you bring mushrooms home, take them out of their plastic and put them into an open paper bag, or line a bowl with paper towels and place in the fridge. Mushrooms need that extra air circulation!
Carrots and asparagus both tend to dry out quickly, so they can do with a little extra moisture. If you buy carrots with the leaves still attached, cut them off, as they'll pull nutrients from the main root. Next, put them in a container filled with water, seal it with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge.
Asparagus likes to stay hydrated too, so store the stalks as you would flowers, upright with the cut ends submerged in a bowl or cup, then place it in the fridge.
I hope that you learned something valuable about produce storage. My mission is to help you get healthier without needing more medications, and healthy food can be your medicine. If you or someone you know needs help, make sure you reach out because I am available for a telehealth call. Let's continue to share Hope in this world and get on our knees to pray to our Heavenly Father asking Him to strengthen us daily realizing it's impossible to live the Christian life without Him. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.
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