Getting The Most Life Out Of Your Produce

Saving Money: Produce


With the prices of produce these days, most people can not afford to have produce go to waste.  It is so easy for produce to spoil with our busy lifestyles. Many of the items we purchase in the grocery store are already weeks old and do not last  long  once we bring them home.  Buying fresh from local farms would ensure the freshest produce but, living in Canada many items are not available year-round. Most of us do not have the luxury to shop daily for our needs, like they do in many parts of the world.  The majority of people tend to do their shopping once a week or two and it can be really hard to have your produce last long enough between grocery shops.

Several online services have started up that help get the freshest produce to consumers direct from the farmers all over the lower mainland. (Delivers within Greater Vancouver) and Local Food Supply Co. (Delivers within Fraser Valley) are two that have started up in the last year with a truly “Farm-to-table” concept.

When started up last year, I did a blog post on them, explaining how the “farm-to-table” business concept worked . You can check that out here.

There are many tips and tricks to help prolong the life of your produce. Here is a list of ways to get the most life out of your produce and save you money.


1. Store Produce Dry

Exceptions to this rule:

  • Scallions (store upright, roots down in water at room temperature. Storing this way will allow them to keep growing, as long as you freshen the water periodically.
  • Asparagus – trim ends and store in a glass of water in the fridge
  • Whole carrots and halved celery – store in a container of water in the fridge. (change water ever 2-3 days) OR you can store celery in aluminum foil in fridge.

2.  Store Produce in the Produce Plastic Bags

The bags that they give you in the grocery store help keep enough moisture in and prevents the produce from evaporating. Leave produce in these bags and place them in the fridge.


3.  Herbs

Remove twist ties/band. If dirty wash the herbs and dry them using a salad spinner or a paper towel. Bundle the dry herbs into a new dry paper towel and place in a resealable plastic bag or plastic container in the fridge.

  • Basil: trim off the ends and store in a container of water on the counter.


4.  Store Gassy Produce Separate

Apples, bananas, pears, avocados, and potatoes produce a gas called ethylene that accelerates ripening.  If you want something to ripen fast, place it near gassy produce. If you want it to take its time ripening so that it lasts longer, store your produce separate of the above noted items.

If you have ripe fruit, you can slow the ripening by placing it in the fridge.

5.  Store Citrus and Ginger in the Fridge

Using a mesh or perforated plastic bag is best. Even better is to store ginger or turmeric in the freezer.

6.  Try Not to Cram All Your Produce Into The Crispers

Produce enjoys breathing room.

7.  Wrap Stems of Bananas

Wrap them with saran wrap etc. and store on the counter. Store opened bananas in the fridge.

8.  Onions

Onions needs to be stored in a dark cool place (ie. Garage, cellar, basement) in a mesh bag or open basket for ventilation. They will have a shelf life of approx. 4 weeks is stored this way.

9.  Pineapple

Cut the leafy top off and store upside down in fridge.

10.  Mushrooms

Store in a brown paper bag in fridge or other cool dry area.

11.  Berries

Do not wash berries until you are ready to eat them.

12.  Tomatoes

Store tomatoes away from salad greens. They do best at room temperature, away from sunlight.

13.  Avocados

Store on the counter until ripe then store in the fridge.

14. Reviving Soft Grapes, Celery and Strawberries

If your grapes go soft, just place them in a bowl of cold water for about an hour. They will absorb the moisture, then drain the water and place them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.

If your celery wilts and goes soft, Take the bunch of celery and cut the stalks off leaving about a 2 inch base and poke a few holds with a knife in the bottom of the base.. Put the stalks in a cup of water. The stalks will firm up within hours and look as good as new.

If your strawberries go soft place them in a bowl full of ice water, pop them in for 20 minutes and they will be as good as new.

Here is a list of 16 items that you do not need to refrigerate:

    • Tomatoes
    • Bananas
    • Hot Sauce (check label)
    • Butter (if stored in an airtight container)
    • Bread
    • Basil
    • Soy Sauce
    • Pickles
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Potatoes
    • Watermelon
    • Stone fruit
    • Coffee
    • Bell and hot peppers
    • Onions
    • Tropical Fruit


Tina Evans


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