Keeping fruit and vegetables fresh

Vanessa StoicovMar 25, '21

We love our fruit and vegetables here at iPantry – it’s why we stock a wide variety from local suppliers and growers. But one of the biggest challenges, especially if you’re environmentally conscious, is how to keep your fruit and veggies fresh once they land in your fridge as they’re one of the biggest sources of food waste in Australia. 

It’s important to use fresh produce when cooking tasty and healthy dishes, so let’s explore how you can keep them from going bad before you get a chance to cook them up. 

How to store vegetables

Different vegetables need to be stored in different ways depending on what they are, but if you’re ever unsure, think about where they were grown. Anything grown underground – think root vegetables – is typically sensitive to light and humidity so they’re best kept out of the fridge. Whereas veggies grown on vines or in trees – think tomatoes and avocados (although both technically a fruit) – need moisture to stay fresh, so they keep best in your fridge.

To extend the life of your vegetables at home, you can store them a few ways: in a cool, dry place, refrigerator or freezer. 

On the counter or in the pantry

Potatoes, mushrooms and garlic, for example, will stay fresh longer in a cool, dry place. It’s important to keep these vegetables dry and away from light so they don’t sprout or shrivel up. Therefore, you may like to keep them in a paper bag in your pantry. 

Sweet potatoes, however, aren’t as sensitive to light and won’t go toxic like regular potatoes do when left exposed. 

Making the most of your fridge 

Many fruits and vegetables can be stored in the fridge, especially if they’ve been sliced or partially used. A great hack here is to use paper towels, particularly wrapped around any leafy greens, or store foods in the packaging they came in. Single use plastic isn’t ideal, but it can help keep items fresh for longer. 

To avoid food waste, check the temperature of your fridge. It should sit between 3 to 4 degrees celsius to keep your fruit and veggies fresh. 

A common concern is how to keep lettuce fresh – salad leaves can wilt if they’re not stored properly. The key here is to wash them thoroughly and dry them before you put them in the fridge as excess moisture can cause mold. Store salad leaves in a lettuce spinner or with some paper towels in either a container or reusable bag.  

In the freezer

Freezing fruits is a brilliant way to keep their nutrients intact and the same applies for most vegetables. But avoid freezing potatoes (unless they’re mashed), artichokes, lettuce leaves or sprouts as they won’t keep. 

How to keep your favourites fresh fruits, well, fresh!

If you’re curious about how to keep bananas fresh, they’re best kept in a bowl on your kitchen counter. If you have an underripe avocado, place it in the bowl with bananas to speed along it’s ripening. Then, once your avocado is ready to eat, you can either keep it in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze it for later (it’s great in smoothies!). Fruits like applesoranges and grapes should be kept in the refrigerator. 

What to do with excess or overripe fruit and vegetables

There’s nothing more disappointing than having to throw out overripe fruit – it’s wasteful and very avoidable. Here are a few things you can do to make the most of any leftover or overripe fruit and veg. 

Add them into your meals

Ripe fruits are perfect for making jam, particularly raspberries, strawberries or oranges. It’s a relatively straightforward process where you cook off the water from the fruits with some sugar – and you can get some really delicious varieties depending on what fruits you use.

Another quick tip is to use any ripe avocado for breakfast with scrambled eggs on toast. Crumble some feta on top and you’ve got a very nutritious meal! You could also add ripe avocado to pasta with chicken and a little green pesto. Avocado is such a versatile ingredient, one that’s chock full of healthy fats. 

Make a hearty soup

As we approach the cooler months, a great way to use up any veggies is to make a vegetable soup. Chop up any overripe tomatoes, carrots, celery, pumpkin and the like, bring to a boil with some stock and season with your chosen spices and presto – you’ve got yourself a tasty meal and less food waste!

Blend a smoothie

This is a quick and easy way to boost your nutrient intake on the daily. Freeze any overripe bananas, berries or avocado for use in your smoothies and save yourself prep time that you can use for other things, like browsing the iPantry marketplace. 

Have extra herbs? Check this out...

Dice and chop any leftover fresh herbs,  like basil, and freeze them with a little water in ice cube trays. You can use frozen herbs in your cooking, particularly for making chimichurris, pesto or salsa.

At iPantry, we support local fruit and vegetable suppliers

We’re very passionate about supporting local fruit and vegetable businesses. Our goal is to source high-quality fresh produce for you and continue to build strong relationships with suppliers like Scicluna’s Real Food Merchants. Shop online and order before 2pm Monday to Friday for next day delivery with us. Happy cooking!