Fridge and freezer tips for fruits and vegetables

July 29, 2015

Fruits and vegetables are good for you, but they don't stay good just anywhere. Which of them to refrigerate and when is made clear in the chart below. Extra tips on freezing will make the produce you buy now last longer than expected.

Fridge and freezer tips for fruits and vegetables

Should you refrigerate?

Some fruits and vegetables last longest if refrigerated; some do better stored out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place. And then there are those that should be ripened at room temperature and then refrigerated. Here's a list you might want to have taped to the fridge:

Refrigerate immediately Asian pears; cauliflower; grapes; plums; asparagus; celery;  kumquats; radishes; beans; cantaloupe; lettuce; salad greens; beets; citrus; lychees; spinach; berries; corn; mushrooms; summer squash; broccoli; cranberries; okra; cabbage; cucumbers; peas; carrots; eggplants; peppers

Ripen in a cool, dry place, then refrigerate Avocado; kiwi; apples; potatoes; bananas; peaches; honeydew melons; sweet potatoes; guava; tomatoes; mangoes; watermelons; papaya; onions; winter squash; pears; pineapples

Be freezer-smart

Your freezer can be a powerful tool for long-term life for most vegetables and some fruits — if you know how to use it. The first problem with freezing produce is that the water inside expands, breaking down the cell walls, so the food is mushy when you defrost it. This usually isn't a big deal with vegetables that will be cooked, since cooking softens them anyway. But it usually precludes freezing fruits that you want to eat raw.

The other problem with freezing is that fresh fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that will cause them to lose nutrients, flavour, and colour, even when frozen. So before freezing produce, you'll want to inactivate the enzymes by blanching — giving them a quick dip in boiling water or steam and then an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.

Freeze celery for seasoning

Chop up extra celery; then microwave it at 10-second intervals on a paper towel until it is dried. It will keep in the freezer for up to a year for use in seasoning soups and other dishes.

Freeze bananas

Got more ripe bananas than you can use? Slice 'em up and lay them out on a small cookie sheet. Freeze the slices on the cookie sheet; then toss them into a resealable plastic freezer bag. Keep them frozen until it's time to make your next smoothie or banana bread.

Chop 'n' freeze leftovers

Blanching before freezing is the best way to preserve veggies for the long term. But you don't want to go through that trouble for a leftover piece of pepper or onion. And you know the piece is probably doomed if you just wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge. Here's a handy solution that will preserve the leftover piece for at least a few weeks: If you like to stir-fry, slice up the leftovers. Or if you think they might come in handy for adding to a sauce or dip, chop them. Freeze the pieces in a resealable plastic bag or a plastic container with a tight lid. Later, just break off whatever you need from the frozen chunk — there's no need to thaw it before you use it.

Fruits and vegetables are healthy and delicious. These helpful tips will let you indulge in seasonal varieties of your favourites long after the season has passed.


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