Eleven years ago, my family made the decision to ditch our standard American diet (full of Kraft and Hidden Valley and all the processed foods) and eat real food. As our diet changed, so did the way we shopped for food. Today, the majority of our food comes from the farmer’s market and local farms and butchers (here’s my guide to finding local food). Much of this food is fresh, seasonal produce that can quickly rot.
I’ve gathered together 9 of my favorite produce hacks for making fresh food last longer. Have you tried any of these produce hacks?
How to Make Fresh Food Last Longer
Taking time to properly store produce and fresh food is the most important thing you can do to make this food last longer. I think most people end up with rotten food issues because they don’t take a few extra minutes to properly store that food after grocery shopping.
Trust me, I used to be that person, too.
But throwing out one too many heads of lettuce and cartons of strawberries can be just the wakeup call needed to realize that food storage is super important.
If you’ve taken the time to buy groceries and spent money on this food, why not spend time storing this food so it will last for days or weeks?
I recommend taking time to clean out your fridge before going to the grocery store or farmer’s market. I usually do this Friday night, after dinner. You don’t want to add new food on top of the old food, without first doing some clean out.
As you pull things out, organize the space, wipe down any spills, consolidate anything that can go together, and make a mental note of anything that needs to be used ASAP or anything you need to restock.
I use my all purpose cleaner spray with vinegar or all purpose spray without vinegar to wipe down the shelves. These cleaners are easy to make, non-toxic, and work great for cleaning stains and deodorizing the fridge.
Now is also the time to toss anything that has seen better days. Hopefully, after using today’s 9 produce hacks, you won’t need to toss much.
After shopping, spend a few minutes properly storing produce so that fresh food lasts longer. Doing so saves time, money, and sanity during the busy week as you know that your food is still good when you need it most.
There are many more foods we could talk about, but for today we’re going to cover some of the trickiest foods to store and keep fresh. Check out the food storage section of the blog to learn more about how to store produce.
Produce Storage Tricks
9 Produce Hacks to Make Your Fresh Food Last Longer
1. How to Store Leafy Greens
The key to storing leafy greens is to avoid too much moisture build up on the greens and to keep air circulating in the storage bag or container. I suggest 3 methods: 1) Use a gallon-size bag with a paper towel inserted, 2) Use a large glass container with a paper towel inserted, 3) Use a produce keeper container from OXO. These methods will keep leafy greens fresh for about 2 weeks.
I share about each of these methods and tips for buying leafy greens in this post.
2. Store Cut Carrots and Celery in Water
Carrots and celery can quickly go limp if stored open in the fridge. If you plan to use the carrots and celery quickly, this is fine but if you plan to store carrots and celery for weeks, here’s the best hack. Cut celery and carrots into sticks, then place in a glass jar and fill with water, and place a lid on the jar. Store the carrots and celery, now submerged in the water, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Just change out the water every few days.
Check out this post for all the details about this produce hack.
3. Keep Berries Fresh and Mold Free with Vinegar
Ah, berries. We all love them but they can be a pain in the rumpus to store. Mold seems to take over even the freshest of berries within just a day or two. To keep the mold away from berries for longer, wash berries in a vinegar and water bath. I use 1/4 cup white vinegar to 3 cups of water. After soaking the berries, wash with fresh water and air dry, then store in a paper towel lined jar with a lid in the fridge.
I share all the details in this post.
4. Store Fresh Herbs Like a Bouquet of Flowers
I LOVE fresh herbs. Fresh herbs take any meal from okay to AMAZING! Chop fresh herbs and mix them with greens for a flavorful salad, add fresh herbs to chicken or tuna salad, top a bowl style meal (protein, Instant Pot rice, and frozen roasted veggies) with a generous amount of fresh herbs, make a pesto, make chimichurri sauce for marinating meat. The list could go on.
While I love fresh herbs, I don’t love tossing wilted herbs that have seen better days. The solution is easy: store fresh herbs just like a bouquet of flowers, in a jar with some water and then add a bag over the top of the herbs. This will keep most herbs, like cilantro, rosemary, and parsley, fresh for about 2 weeks, sometimes longer.
Basil is the one exception to this rule, as it prefers to be kept on the counter (with no cover). Check out this post for how to store every kind of fresh herb.
5. Store Green Onions Like a Bouquet of Flowers
Green onions are similar to herbs in that both are versatile and should be stored like a bouquet of flowers. Store green onions in a glass filled 1/4 way full with water and a bag over top in the fridge. Green onions will last about 2-3 weeks when stored this way.
Check out this post for the full details, plus what to look for when buying green onions and ways to use green onions.
6. Freeze Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Sometimes I’m overzealous when it comes to buying fresh produce. I see gorgeous, in-season strawberries and on-sale avocados and think, “I need them all!” Anytime this happens, I reserve a small amount of the fresh produce to enjoy in the moment and then freeze the extras. Many fruits and veggies can be frozen raw. This is a great way to preserve fresh fruit and vegetables that are about to go bad.
To freeze fruit, I recommend using a sheet pan and parchment paper. Chop any large fruits, like bananas, oranges, pineapple, mango, peaches, apples, avocados, or kiwi into pieces then place on a sheet pan and freeze.
Fruit like apples and peaches can be dipped in a lemon juice solution to avoid browning in the freezer.
For berries and grapes, there’s no chopping needed, just place the berries or grapes on the sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, place the fruit in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 6 months. Here’s how to freeze fresh strawberries and how to freeze blueberries.
For frozen vegetables, my favorite way to use a variety of different veggies is roast them! You can do this with broccoli, cauliflower, squash, green beans, and so many other veggies.
7. Store Fresh Radishes in a Bag or Water
One of my favorite vegetables is radishes. I know, random, but they’re so good for you and there are many different ways to use a bunch of radishes: salads, sandwiches, roast them, a taco topping.
Store fresh radishes in a bag with a damp towel or submerged in water. Or, freeze radishes or ferment them for months. Check out this guide for how to store and use radishes.
8. Store Fresh Asparagus Like a Bouquet of Flowers
In the spring, fresh asparagus are abundant. Roast asparagus, grill the stalks, or make mini quiche. This favorite vegetable can go bad quickly if not stored properly. Store fresh asparagus like a bouquet or flowers and the stalks will stay fresh for a couple of weeks. Here’s how to store and use asparagus.
9. Store Bell Peppers Whole or Cut (or Freeze Them)
Store fresh bell peppers whole in the vegetable produce drawer in the fridge. Or, cut the bell peppers for easy use throughout the week and store in an airtight container. Here’s how to store bell peppers, both cut and whole and how to freeze bell peppers for the long-term.
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Fridge Tour Video
Another way to make fresh food last longer is to keep your fridge organized and food visible. Below, I share how to I store everything in my fridge, including some of the produce hacks we talked about above, and my #1 organizational tip. Watch the video below…