Tips for Storing and Keeping Garden Produce Fresh

There's nothing more disappointing than being unable to use produce from your garden because it has spoiled. More often than not, unusable fruits and veggies are a result of improper storage, as factors like temperature, air exposure and sunlight can all impact the shelf life of your harvest.

By making a few adjustments, you can enjoy fresh food from your garden longer without the worry of it going bad. Consider these tips for storing and keeping garden produce fresh well beyond the harvest day.

Storage Locations

Where you store your fruits and veggies can have a big impact on their freshness and longevity. As some fruits begin to ripen, they give off a gas called ethylene that can speed up the ripening process. Just like companion planting, some fruits and veggies shouldn't be stored with others, to protect their freshness and flavors. Ethylene-producing fruits like apples, carrots and broccoli should be stored away from gas-sensitive produce like bananas, tomatoes and avocados. Also, avoid storing fruit and veggies near toasters and gas stoves as this can expose them to ethylene gas.
 

Refrigeration


While your first instinct in protecting your produce's freshness may be to refrigerate them, your refrigerator can actually cause your fruits and veggies to spoil quicker. It is good practice to clean out your fridge once every four months to prevent mold spores from developing. Cleaning your fridge quarterly can also help eliminate expired foods, which can also affect the shelf life of your produce. Fruits like melons, bananas and avocados should be moved from the counter to the refrigerator as they begin to ripen. When refrigerating produce, avoid storing it on the doors of the fridge. The fluctuating temperature from opening and closing the fridge door can ripen fruits and veggies quicker.

Packaging

Another common reason for spoiled produce is not eating it in a timely manner. You can help prevent this by storing cut fruits and vegetables in clear containers to remind you that they are there to enjoy. Preserve your greens and herbs by putting them in a tightly sealed freezer bag, and wrap celery in aluminum foil before refrigerating. You can also expand your produce's shelf life by opting to glass containers versus plastic ones. Plastic can retain moisture and consists of chemicals that can cause your fruit to spoil faster.

Always remember, moisture can speed up spoiling so be sure to dry all fruits and vegetables after washing them before storing.