In our Queensland climate, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep all our produce fresh and crisp. Our fruit and vegetables have not been sprayed with sulphur dioxide, bleached, or dipped in fungicide to prolong their shelf life, so they will not have the same lifespan as some of the chemically treated produce from the supermarket. However by using some of tips below for storing the goodies that come in your box, you can ensure they will stay fresh from the farm to your table!
After harvesting, all fruits and vegetables give off a natural ripening hormone called ethylene, with some producing it in greater quantities than others. When ethylene-producing items are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive items, the hormone will speed up the ripening process of all items. You can use this to your advantage by placing a ripe banana, which is a high ethylene producer, in a paper bag with an unripe avocado. However if high ethylene producing foods are not managed it can lead to the premature deterioration of ethylene sensitive fruit and vegetables.
How to make the most of the fruit and veg in your box:
1. Pick your box up from your City Cousin as soon as you can. The sooner you can get your produce home and into the fridge, the longer it will stay fresh. Once you get home, spend a few minutes sorting through your box and storing everything away.
2. Store fruit and vegetables separately as fruit in general produce more ethylene than veggies – our handy storage guide will help you decide where to store your produce.
3. Damage such as bruises and cuts to fruit will increase its ethylene production. Remove any damaged items so as to not infect others and consume as soon as possible.
4. Do not overcrowd your produce in the fridge.
5. Do not wash produce until youʼre ready to eat it.
6. Plan your meals so that you eat the produce with the shortest shelf life first.
- Asparagus is best stored in a glass of water in the fridge with the tough part of the stalks removed.
- Avocados are transported green to stop them from bruising in transit. They will ripen in a fruit bowl in 3-7 days. To speed up the ripening process, you can put them in a brown paper bag with a banana.
- Bananas ripen well if left in a fruit bowl at room temperature. Once they are ripe, you can store them in the fridge. This will make the skin go black, but the flesh will still be good.
- Beetroot is best stored by removing the green tops and storing them separately to the root. Store the green tops as you would store lettuce.
- Broccoli will turn yellow if it is stored near bananas, tomatoes or pawpaws. To keep it at its freshest, it should be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the coldest part of your fridge. As broccoli ages it loses important vitamins, so plan to use it in the first three or four days after delivery, to get the maximum nutritional benefits. If you think you won’t be able to use it in this time, you can freeze it by blanching the florets in boiling water for 3 minutes or steaming for 5 minutes. Cool them in ice water and place in freezer bags or containers.
- Carrots wilt if they get too dry, and rot if they get too wet. They will retain their moisture and stay firm if you put them in a plastic bag with a few holes in it, and keep the bag in the vegetable crisper.
- Cauliflower can be stored in either a paper or plastic bag in your fridge. The moisture will naturally run down to the lowest point of the cauliflower, so the florets will stay dry and fresh if you store it with the stem side down.
- Celery should keep well in the fridge. If it goes floppy, you can refresh it by setting it stem down in a jug of lukewarm water. Leave it there for half an hour or so, then pop it back in the fridge.
- Corn store in the fridge with the husk on.
- Herbs are best stored in a glass of water in the fridge after cutting off the end of the stalk.
- Lettuce will keep for longer if it is stored dry. Put it in an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture, and store in the vegetable crisper of your fridge.
- Mushrooms are best kept in fridge, in the brown paper bag that they are delivered in. They are best if eaten in the first three days.
- Onions should be stored in a cool dark place. Hang them in a mesh bag or in a pair of clean panty hose, which allows air to circulate around the onions and stops bacteria and fungus from taking hold. Once onions have been cut, store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
- Pumpkins will keep in a cool, well ventilated area for up to two months. Once they have been cut, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the fridge. They should keep for about a week.
- Salad mix needs to be eaten in the first couple of days after delivery. To keep it at its freshest, take it out of the bag, and put it in a container on top of a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top of the salad mix, then put a small cotton tea towel on top of the paper towel. Put the lid on the container, and store it in the fridge.
- Unripe fruit should be kept at a cool room temperature until ripe and then refrigerated.
All the plastic bags used to store your vegetables can be washed and used again the following week. If you have a worm farm, the worms will love munching on any paper towels that have been used to absorb the moisture from the lettuce or salad mix.