Smart Storing: How To Fill Your Fridge
Turns out that stacking the shopping is something of an art! Apparently, the way you store you fresh food can have a dramatic effect on how long it keeps.
Allow us to explain our excitement: the longer your food keeps, the longer you have to use it, the less you have to throw spoiled food away, meaning that you save money and reduce food waste.
Apparently, it all comes down to ethylene. Ethylene is a hydrocarbon and a plant hormone compound released by fruit as a colorless gas with a “sweet and musky” (read: fridge-like) smell.
Ethylene acts as a ripening agent, which means that certain ‘gas releasing’ fruits and veggies can cause other ‘gas sensitive’ produce to ripen extra fast and spoil more quickly than it otherwise would. This is where the old adage ‘one bad apple spoils the barrel’ comes from as lots of gas releasers release more and more ethylene as they ripen and start to spoil.
To see the effects of ethylene in action, you can put a ripe peach next to some spinach in the fridge. You should notice that the leafy greens become yellow and wilted within a few days.
Some of the worst offenders for spoiling other produce with their ethylene emissions are ripe bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, onions and tomatoes, all of which should be stored outside the fridge (even the tomatoes!)
All these fruits will taste better at room temperature and keeping them out of the fridge will ensure that they don’t contaminate other produce that is extra sensitive to ethylene, like most leafy greens, peppers and watermelon.
Unripe bananas and potatoes are also extra sensitive to ethylene, so make sure you store you potatoes and onions separately and use a strategic method to make sure all your bananas are ripe when you want them!
Some gas-releasers do have to be stored in the fridge. They include apples, apricots, figs and honeydew melon so these should always live on a separate shelf from the ethylene sensitive produce.
Of course, ethylene isn’t all bad. If you need to ripen some green bananas double quick you can just pop them into the fruit bowl next to a nice ripe nectarine!
If this all sounds over-complicated, just keep these simple rules in mind:
- Don’t store fruit and vegetables together on the same shelf or drawer in the fridge.
- Anything that has the potential to ripen more after you buy it (like a banana) should be stored out of the fridge.
- If it’s ready to eat, keep it in the fridge.
- Always store onions and potatoes away from each other in the larder!
A final word on herbs. Apart from basil, which likes the warm, you should store your herbs in the fridge and if you want them to last as long as possible, you could also give them the bouquet treatment and put them up in a vase of water (or a shot glass!) or wrap their ends in damp cotton wool and tin foil.
Little things can make a big difference. Changing the way you store your food could mean the difference between a filling soup and just filling the bin!