At the urging of government officials and doctors, Americans are making more of an effort to get those five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Since most of us go to the grocery store just once a week, however, we often end up with brown bananas and mushy strawberries by day five. With the holidays coming up, a fruit delivery could be in the cards. When that pyramid of premium pears doesn’t get eaten fast enough, it kills us to throw away such deliciousness. The average American family tosses out 470 pounds of fruit each year at a cost of $600 per family annually.
All fruits are on a ceaseless, forward-marching, rotting campaign. The whole job of fruit is to rot so that the seeds contained within can have a ready-made nutrition packet if they happen to land on fertile ground and need to grow.
Luckily there are some tricks to keep fruit firm and healthy throughout the week.
- Store all raspberries, blueberries and strawberries in a single layer in the refrigerator on a paper towel.
- Let the following fruits ripen on the counter, then refrigerate: avocados, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
- Put apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew in the refrigerator the minute you bring them home to when you consume them.
These should remain on the counter:
- Keep bananas, pears, peaches and oranges on the kitchen counter, but out of direct sunlight. If they seem to be getting soft, consider refrigerating them. The refrigerator will delay maturation, but rob the fruit of flavor at the same time.
- Throw the fruit bowl in the refrigerator or spare refrigerator overnight. Bring it out after school to evening to encourage healthy snacking.
- Once picked, fruits emit an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene which speeds up the ripening process. When fruit is stored out on the counter, put it in baskets where the air can carry away the ethylene gas it creates.
- If your fruit is in a bowl, wash it once a week to counter bacteria and mold build up.
- While vegetable ethylene emission will rot fruit, the innocent apple is one of the worst ethylene producers. Store vegetables and the worst fruit ethylene producers away from other fruit. Some fruits produce more ethylene than others, and when they do it in a confined space like a refrigerator drawer their emissions can speed up ripening and rotting in other fruits close by. Keep apples out on the counter where air doesn’t get trapped. Use an outside refrigerator if you want softening apples to hang on for a few more days. Other big ethylene producers include: bananas, pears, tomatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
- To speed up the ripening of hard fruit, food buyers will put an unripe avocado in a bag with it. The ethylene gas will speed up the ripening process.
- In general, store all fruits unwashed. Water on the skin can accelerate ripening.
- If one piece of fruit begins to rot in a basket, remove it so that it doesn’t take its neighbors down with it.
A little help here? Products that extend the life of fruit
Green bags are constructed so that the ethylene gas emitted by the fruit wicks away from it. The downside is that green-bagged fruit can turn into a gas factory in a refrigerator drawer. Don’t leave any fruits bare next to green bagged fruit.
BluApple Fruit Preserver and similar products absorb and neutralize the ethylene gas fruits emit. Adapted from methods used by industrial lemon growers, the BluApple Fruit Preserver relies on non-toxic sodium permanganate. Each BluApple can absorb ethylene gas in a refrigerator, produce bin or storage container for three months. Refill packs keep the BluApple functioning at peak.
Avoid Fruit Frustration
With the increasing popularity of organic fruit, more families will become focused on wasting less of the expensive commodity. Proper preservation techniques can stretch grocery dollars. A little knowledge and a green bag or two can help you keep fruit fresh.