Spoiled Rotten

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We’re all so excited to have a cartful of healthy fruits and vegetables and when we get home, we toss everything in the fridge or in a fruit bowl only to sheepishly toss out half of it after it’s sliming around in the produce drawer and now we have spoiled rotten fruits and veggies.

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn’t be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop.

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. There are fruits and vegetables that give off a high level of ethylene gas and those that don’t. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas-a ripening agent-will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate.

Here’s a list that will help you learn the proper way to store and avoid spoiled rotten fruits and veggies:

Ethylene Producers (keep these away from other fruits and vegetables and refrigerate)
Apples | Apricots | Cantaloupe | Figs | Honeydew

Don’t refrigerate
Avocados | Bananas, unripe | Nectarines | Peaches | Pears | Plums | Tomatoes

Non-Ethylene Producers
(keep these away from the ethylene producers)
Bananas | Broccoli | Brussels sprouts | Cabbage | Carrots | Cauliflower | Cucumbers | Eggplant | Lettuce and other leafy greens | Parsley | Peas | Peppers | Squash | Sweet potatoes | Watermelon

These spoil the quickest
Artichokes | Asparagus | Avocados | Bananas | Basil | Broccoli | Cherries | Corn | Dill | Green beans | Mushrooms | Mustard greens | Berries | Watercress

Other Tips:
Keep fruits (like grapes and bananas) on the stem. As soon as you start pulling them apart, they ripen faster.

Never refrigerate tomatoes, potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.

Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)