Want Your Produce To Stay Fresh? Never Use A Plastic Bag Again.

The sun is high, the sky is blue, the grass is green—summer's here. And for a lot of us, that means it's farmer's market season. But we all know the feeling when your eyes are bigger than your refrigerator, and all that beautiful produce (which isn't cheap!) ends up wilted, rotten, and sad. Good news: your artichoke heartbreak can be avoided. It's just a matter of making a space where fruits and veggies can thrive, and knowing which ones get along together and which ones don't.

Know Before You Stow

First, let's lay some ground rules. Rule one: stop using plastic bags. We know—those flimsy plastic produce bags are pretty much your only option when you're actually at the market or the grocery store. That's why you should bring your own. Fruits and vegetables need to breathe, and they can't when they're cooped up in an airtight sack. Plus, it's just better for the environment.

Rule two: know what does and doesn't go into the fridge. Berries, yes. Bulb vegetables like garlic and onion, no. Peaches and avocados should ripen at room temperature, then go in the fridge. Oranges can be stored in the pantry or the fridge, but they'll last longer chilled. For everything else, well, here's a handy guide covering pretty much anything you'll find at an outdoor market.

You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated

There's one last set of rules that you need to keep in mind, and those have to do with knowing what produce plays well with others. It all comes down to how and why fruits and veggies ripen. Ripening plants produce a chemical called ethylene, and the riper they are, the more ethylene they produce. But ethylene doesn't just come out of ripening produce; it causes produce to ripen, too. That means that if one apple is going soft, even its non-apple neighbors will follow suit (yeah, that "one bad apple" expression is legit). Too much ethylene leads to a loss of chlorophyll, which makes greens turn yellow and brown.

Some fruits and veggies produce more of the stuff than others, and knowing which can help you keep your produce fresh for longer. Apples, avocados, bananas, eggplant, tomatoes, and peaches all give off a lot of ethylene and are also quite sensitive to it, so you'll want to store them alone, while bell peppers, berries, pineapple, citrus, and kale are hardy enough to pair up with any other produce. In the middle are veggies that don't give off much ethylene but can easily be affected by it: broccoli, carrots, green beans, asparagus, and brussels sprouts, plus grapes and watermelon all can be kept with their own kind, but far away from the big ethylene producers. Then again, you can also use ethylene producers to your advantage. Want to speed up the ripening process for your avocados? Put them in a bag with an apple or banana, place the bag in the pantry, and after a day or two they'll be ready for guac. Yum.

Even if you bring your own shopping bags to the farmer's market, most people don't think to bring produce bags to keep fruits and veggies compartmentalized. That's where The Mighty Fix from MightyNest comes in. Sign up for this monthly subscription service and you'll start receiving eco-friendly alternatives to stuff you use every day, such as breathable produce bags. Made of a fine polyester mesh, the bags are translucent enough to see what's inside but will hold up to heavy use. They're also machine washable, so it's easy to keep them clean for future grocery trips. At this point, the fact that they help the environment by cutting down on plastic waste is really just icing on the organic carrot cake.

Curiosity is proud to spotlight companies like MightyNest that make living green easier than ever. A subscription to The Mightyfix is $10 per month, and every month, subscribers receive a box worth at least $10, and often more. With the code CURIOUSFIX, you can get your first fix for just $3. Use this link and the code will be automatically applied to your cart.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Keeping Produce Fresh

How To Ripen Fruit Quickly—With Science

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Ethylene is harmless to humans, but is the hormone that ripens fruits. 00:32

  2. Fruit distributors need to get ethylene levels just right so fruits don't arrive at grocery stores too ripe. 01:04

  3. A machine at a food distributor taps and photographs avocados to determine the amount of ripeness inside the skin. 02:10

Martha Stewart Explains How To Store Vegetables

What To Bring To A Farmers' Market

Written by Curiosity Staff June 14, 2017

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