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Here at Casa de Suna, we’re all about shopping locally and eating seasonally.

It allows us to support farmers in our community, it’s better for the environment (according to the United Nations, nearly half of all fruit and vegetable produce each year is wasted), and there’s nothing more nourishing than a farm-to-table meal.

One thing we don’t love? Opening the fridge to get started on a nutrient-dense dinner only to find that our produce has gone bad. Relatable? Read on for our tips on how to store your produce for maximum flavor and freshness.

Placement is Everything.

When it comes to keeping your fruits and veggies fresh, where you store them makes all the difference–and you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Some produce thrives in the fridge, while other types will only do well in cool, dark places. Let’s break it down.

Starches get stored.

Starchy vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and winter squash – keep best in a cool dry place, like a pantry. Same goes for onion, garlic, and eggplant. Sunlight can speed up the spoiling process of all of this produce–it’ll last a lot longer if it’s hidden away.

Ripen, then refrigerate.

Most fruits do best when you leave them on the counter to ripen, then refrigerate them. All fruits – as well as avocados – can stay on the counter until they’re ready to use. If you need more time, you can put them in the fridge right before they ripen to slow down the process.

Ethylene is the enemy.

Okay, we might have exaggerated a bit – but it can cause food to ripen prematurely–or worse. For those still scratching their heads: ethylene is a plant hormone crucial to the life cycle of fruits. Without it, produce wouldn’t ripen, but some foods are sensitive to the substance, and storing a food that emits ethylene near an ethylene-sensitive food means you risk spoiling it. Here’s a handy guide.

Don’t store these ethylene-producing foods: apples, avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, mangoes, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes
With these ethylene-sensitive foods: carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, cauliflower, onion, lettuce, herbs, squash.

A few more assorted produce-freshening tips we’ve picked up along the way:

  • Trimming the tops of carrots can help keep them fresher longer. According to On Health, carrot tops “wick nutrients and freshness.” Use the green stems in delicious sauces like this low-waste carrot top pesto.
  • Onions need circulation. Because of how easily they absorb moisture, store them in a cool, dry place like your pantry.
  • Mushrooms love ventilation. You may have noticed your packaged mushrooms come with holes in the packaging. This is because mushrooms last longest when they’re well-ventilated. If they’re completely wrapped in plastic, punch a couple of holes into them to keep them fresher longer.
  • Herbs prefer to stand up straight. Cut off the stems of your herbs and leave them upright in a mason jar filled partially with water. Cilantro should go in the fridge, while basil and parsley do best at room temperature. Your herbs will last up to two weeks longer when stored this way.
  • When in doubt, freeze. Cooking and freezing produce when we’re not sure when we’ll use it is one of our favorite ways to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.

We hope these tips help you prolong the life of your produce – if you use any of them, be sure to tag us on social media using #casadesuna.

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