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Crisper, Longer

Crisper, Longer

Tips for Slowing the Clock on Food Spoilage

Story by RICA KEENUM | Photo by ginosphotos1/

The crisper drawer is designed to prolong the life of produce in your refrigerator, but in many households, it is more like a coffin where cucumbers go soft and leafy greens go to die. America wastes 40 percent of its food, fresh fruits, and veggies account for the most substantial loss from consumers. That is not to say our food crispers are not doing their job. Food spoilage is a problem for many reasons — from overbuying to poor planning, and storage methods. If you are fed up with food waste, here are some tips for optimizing freshness, and keeping your fruits and vegetables crispier.

Forget Bargain Buying 

The first and most important tip for preventing food spoilage is obvious: don’t overbuy.   

Whether you are tempted by a super sale at your local grocer, or a pretty sweet farmers’ market special, buying more than you need is not a bargain if it ends in waste. Put down the extra cantaloupe and keep it moving. 

Make a Menu 

Meal prep pros will tell you this: menus are the way to go when it comes to saving money, reducing waste, and eating healthier. As the old saying goes: those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Think about how you can use your produce to make meals throughout the week, and which items you can freeze for future use. 

Shop More 

More often, that is. Making fewer produce runs might be easier, but big shopping trips can yield big waste. If it takes 10 days to use up your produce, you will end up with a not-so-fresh selection. Root vegetables can last about a month when stored in a cool, dry place, most other produce will degrade within days. 

Prioritize Produce 

Whether it is limp celery or freckled bananas, fruits and veggies have a short shelf life. To minimize waste, organize your food drawers so that older items get used before recently purchased produce. 

See Also

Avoid Washing Before Storing

There is no debating the benefits of washing your produce to rid them of germs and pesticides. Many people even use special brushes, washes, or homemade cleansers, which are excellent. But washing before storing can lead to excess moisture that ages these foods. Do not wash until you are ready to use, with the exception of green onions and herbs such as parsley, basil, and cilantro. Like flowers, they will stay fresher in water.  

Separate Bruised Produce  

One bad apple can spoil the bunch. When it comes to produce, this phrase rings true. A bruised piece of fruit can cause others to be brown, be sure to remove your imperfect apples before they can infect the bunch. 

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