It is common to hear close friends complaining about buying green avocados and then get upset when a few days later they find the avocados have spoiled. Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, our busy schedule can reduce our time to buy and/or prepare fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans discard about 19% of vegetables and 14% of fruits they buy. One of the reasons is that fruits and vegetables are often stored improperly, which causes them to go bad quickly and get thrown away. In this bulletin, you will find some produce storing hacks to help reduce food waste and to help protect your budget.
Ripening of Fruits and Vegetables
Ethylene is a gaseous ripening hormone of plants that accelerates the ripening of some fruits and vegetables, thus leading to decay and waste. Some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to ethylene than others. See below:
Tips to Slow the Ripening Process
- Do not store fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene with those that are sensitive to ethylene, whether you keep it in the refrigerator or not (refer to the chart above).
- Do not store produce in bags or sealed containers. This will trap the gas and cause the produce to ripen faster.
Tips to Speed Up the Ripening Process
- To quickly ripen produce such as avocados, put them in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana. Leave at room temperature but away from direct sunlight and check on the fruit every day to ensure the best possible ripeness.
- Use only paper bags to ripen fruit, as plastic bags and containers trap moisture and air, which will lead to spoilage.
- Set your refrigerator at 32-40 F (ideally 36-38 F).
- Refrigerate apples, figs, kiwi, plums, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, broccoli, lettuce, and Brussel sprouts.
- Store avocados, bananas, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, and watermelon at room temperature.
- Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash, or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. Make sure you separate them to avoid the migration of smells and flavors.
- Insert a paper towel inside the container of pre-washed lettuce. This will keep it dry and will last longer.
- Wash and air dry your favorite herbs (i.e. cilantro), then put it in a paper bag, close with a clip, and store in the refrigerator. In a few weeks, you will have dry herbs for cooking your favorite dishes anytime.
The recipe of the week comes via Oldways: Dried figs with ricotta, honey, and walnuts
- 8 dried ﬁgs
- ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 16 walnut halves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant; about 2 minutes.
- Cut each ﬁg in half crosswise, and place the ﬁg pieces on a serving dish cut side up.
- Put a ½ teaspoon of the ricotta cheese onto each piece of ﬁg and top with a walnut half.
- Drizzle with honey and serve.