Harvested vegetables ‘breathe’Â – yes, after they have been picked and it’s how we store them that determines their longevity. Do they really breathe? They respire, giving off a ripening plant hormone known as ethylene.
Fruit give off lots of ethylene gas and this can cause deterioration in vegetables. That’s why you store your fruit and veggies in different areas of the fridge. Maybe we need to know a little more about which fruits and veggies to put side by side and which ones need to be in different environments. Simply put: keep heavy ‘breathers’ away from ‘light breathers’.
Make up several small fruit bowls with high breathers in one and low breathers in another.
To ripen an avocado, for example, pop it into a paper bag with an apple, pear or banana outside of the fridge and in 2 to 4 days it will be ripe.Or pop it on top of the apple bowl. When it is ripe put it into the fridge.
We know that the cold temperature of your refrigerator slows the respiration of fruit and vegetables.
A suggestion – Don’t wash your vegetables before you put them in the fridge. Water sits on the vegetable or fruit and stops them from ‘breathing’ plus it encourages bacteria to activate which will speed up the wilting process. So leave the dirt on and also leave the outer leaves on – they are nature’s packaging. That’s why we leave as much as possible there for you.
So it seems there are four main factors to consider: Light (especially for potatoes; temperature; moisture in the air; air circulation – drying out of the produce.
STORAGE methods for:
BEANS, BROCCOLI & SWEETCORN
Some vegetables need to be kept out of moist environments and beans are one that prefer air circulation. They are known as Medium breathers. Put them in a container but leave one end of the lid up so air can flow in. The beans will last for over a week that way. Both broccoli and sweetcornÂ like plenty of air circulation but don’t want to dry out.
On the other hand, some stored vegetables like a moist environment. The refrigerator can dry out the vegetables. Ever wondered why they become flippy floppy in the crisper? Without humidity they will quickly shrivel and lose quality. Place those vegetables in a polyethylene bag and make 1cm holes in the sides of the bag to allow for ventilation.
Carrots like to be in a closed moist environment and will stay firm if you pop them into a bag – not the crisper.
Lettuce are medium breathers and like a half open/half closed atmosphere.
To keep herbs use a ventilated bag with a slightly moistened towel or pop them in a glass of water standing in the fridge.
Store unripe tomatoes with fruit so that they can ripen – in a paper bag with an apple or banana which releases the ripening agent ethylene gas. Now tomatoes will lose flavour going into the fridge but if the hot weather hits it might be a good idea. Store fruit in the fridge only after they have ripened.
Don’t sit bananas on top of other fruit or that fruit just won’t last the distance.