This story is part ofCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Summer is a great time to take advantage. The problem is when too much time passes and the strawberries and spinach you . There have been many times I’ve had berries in the fridge and found them spoiled within a week. The good news is that there are ways to combat this problem by taking a few steps beforehand .
With the help of some chefs, educators and other experts, we’ve put together tips on how to keep your favorite fruits and vegetables fresh for as long as possible. You can also check out our tips on whether or not this is the case and .
How to keep herbs fresh
If you love to dress up your dishes with fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro, you know that a bunch can go bad if you don’t use it all at once. Experts recommend several methods to keep herbs fresh for as long as possible. According to Kelsey Riley, founder of vegan recipe site Planted in the Kitchen, you can cut off the bottom stems and place them in water in the fridge — as long as you remember to change the water daily.
Another option is to wrap herbs in a damp paper towel and seal them in an airtight bag, says Christina Bailey, a private chef and cooking instructor for cooking class provider Cozymeal. Olivia Roszkowski, cooking teacher for health-promoting culinary arts at the Institute for Culinary Education, advises wrapping fresh herbs in a damp towel to make them last longer. “This helps prevent wilting while absorbing excess moisture that can cause rot,” she says.
How to keep leafy greens and root vegetables fresh
To keep leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce fresh, the refrigerator environment needs to be as dry as possible. Excess lettuce will last longer if you place layers of kitchen paper between the lettuce leaves and seal with plastic wrap. “The paper towels will hold in the moisture when it comes out, and that can keep the lettuce from wilting as quickly, but make sure you swap out the paper towels when they get damp,” says Jen Stark, founder of the Gardening and DIY Blogs Happy DIY Home. You should also remove any spoiled leaves in salad mixes to prevent bacteria from spreading to the rest of the produce, says Roszkowski.
Bailey also swears by wrapping dark leafy greens like kale in damp paper towels to help them last longer. She does a similar thing with root vegetables like celery, carrots, and parsnips. “If you have celery that has gone limp and lost its crispness, make a fresh cut from the very bottom of the stalks and soak it in a bowl of cold water for a while,” she explains. “The stems may not regain all of their original freshness, but the fibers can absorb some of the water and regain some texture.”
To prevent carrots from drying out, Stark recommends cutting off the green leafy parts before storing them and placing the carrots in a sealed container of water before storing them in the fridge. “Carrot leaves pull nutrients from the roots, but once you cut them off and follow this process, fresh carrots can last anywhere from three to four weeks,” she says.
How to keep fruit fresh in the fridge
To keep those precious summer berries from spoiling, consider storing them in a container with small holes on a paper towel. This keeps them from getting soggy and moldy, according to food preservation expert Brittany Kline.
To increase freshness, keep fruits with skins or skins (like bananas and peaches) separate, says Natalia Thompson, CEO and recipe creator at Flavorful Home. This is because of ethylene gas, a natural gas produced by most fruits and vegetables as they ripen. “If you keep them all together in a fruit basket or crisper drawer, they’re probably helping each other ripen faster, which makes them spoil faster,” Thompson said. She also advises against keeping apples, bananas, and tomatoes in particular close together, as they are all strong ethylene gas producers.
Likewise, these fruits should not be served with other produce such as artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or lettuce. “These are also sensitive to ethylene gas, even if they don’t produce the gas themselves,” says Thompson. However, if your fruit ripens earlier than expected, you can freeze certain fruits like avocado, bananas, berries, pineapple, or mango for later use.
One last tip: check the temperature of your fridge
While all of these tips and tricks will help your produce stay fresher longer, they ultimately rely on one thing: your fridge. This means you want to make sure your temperature is set correctly and is accurate. The best way to check the temperature of your fridge is to use a candy or bulb thermometer and then adjust the regulator in your fridge accordingly (learn more abouthere). If the temperature isn’t working after several troubleshooting steps, it might be time to replace your refrigerator (see CNET’s ).
Once you’ve made sure your fridge is in good working order, you want to make sure you’re storing your produce in the right place. Most refrigerators have drawers designed for fruit or veg based on the needs of those produce – don’t ignore them.
As always, it’s best to buy your fruit and veg seasonally and use them sooner rather than later. But if you want to extend their life, these tips and techniques can help you and ultimately save you money. For more information, seeand .