7 ways to make your produce last longer

sex and avocadoes

The last of the summer bounty is in stores right now round these parts, and a few weeks ago I found the most beautiful, juicy, locally grown, organic peaches. 2 litres of organic peaches (about 10) for $3.98? Sign me up! They were already ripe, so I thought I'd put them in the container that they came in (conveniently ... and because I'm sometimes lazy) onto a shelf in the fridge, right?

Wrong.

Dead wrong.

Within a day, they were all mealy, with absolutely no juice and no taste. I seriously wouldn't even feed them to my dog. If I had a dog. Which I don't.

 I ate them anyways, because I just couldn't bring myself to throw them out, but I despised every second of it. It's in my experience that hating what you're eating always makes for bad digestion.

Couple that with getting a whole head of cabbage for the last 3 weeks in our CSA delivery, and all the potatoes we ever buy going bad in a matter of 2 weeks, and I'm sick of throwing out formerly perfectly good food because I have no idea how to store it.

*UPDATE: Omagarden is no longer offering a CSA, so we've switched to River Bell, which is certified organic. Click here to find out more info.

My husband says that when he was a kid, his dad used to buy 20 lb. bags of potatoes and they would last months. Super kryptonite potatoes? Probably not. He just knew how to store them.

So, I've hit up the interwebs (aka Google) for you and compiled a list of the most common produce that most people (myself included) have no idea how to store properly.

1. Peaches: These bad boys should be ripened at room temperature, with lots of space for proper air circulation. Be gentle with them, because when they're perfectly ripe they bruise like a peach. HAHA. Uh, can you say "high maintenance"? Peaches go bad within a few days, so try to eat them up. If your body can't *ahem* handle the temporary increase in fiber, then you're going to have to slow down the ripening process by putting them in the fridge. Now I know that they should go in a plastic bag, since they get dehydrated really quickly, and in your crisper drawer. You know, the one in the bottom left that has the picture of fruit on it. Seems like they're designed just for that purpose. Incredible.

2. Avocadoes: A ripe one can make my entire day, and one that looks ripe but is actually rotten on the inside makes me want to punch someone. I hate that, because you never know until you cut it open. I buy avocadoes by the bag, and since I actually want to eat them this millennium, I try to buy a bag with a few avocadoes that are softer, and a few that are harder. I put them on my windowsill in the kitchen, and wait, and wait, and wait for them to feel just right. A ripe avocado should "yield to gentle pressure" according to the experts. I've found another genius way to tell if it's ripe: you know the little knobby thing at the one end? Pull it off, and if it's green inside, it's not ripe. If it's slightly brown, it's probably perfect. And if it's dark brown or black? You're about 2 days too late. Cut it open to check, but more than likely you'll be throwing that baby in the garbage. Once it's finally ripe, you can store them in the fridge for a few days. I usually eat an entire one at a time, but if you don't, sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on the exposed flesh, cover it up with plastic wrap, put it in the fridge, and eat it ASAP ... or make chocolate avocado pudding. You can also puree it with some lemon juice, and freeze it. Never tried it, so let me know how it goes!

3. Lettuce: I wrote about this a few months ago, so click here to read it. Quick overview: buy the already washed stuff, put a few pieces of paper towel in it, and store it in the fridge. Eat the delicate lettuce soon after purchasing, and keep spinach to make salads later in the week since it lasts longer. If you buy an entire head and want to be on the ball by having it ready to go for salads, wash it really good in cold water, put it in a salad spinner and get every. last. drop. of water off of it. Put it in a large airtight container or Ziploc bag with a few pieces of dry paper towel, and you should be good to go for at least 4 days or so.

4. Tomatoes: Like peaches, to-mah-toes are delicate flowers, so the same rules apply. If you eat a half of tomato and want to save the rest, put it in an airtight container or plastic wrap in the fridge. When you're ready to eat the rest, let it come to room temp and it'll taste a bit better. Or just make a big pot of tomato sauce, your call.

5. Strawberries: For the love of god, don't buy strawberries in the middle of winter. They taste like shit, and cost a fortune. End rant. Oh, and buy organic (see why here). When you do buy them, don't wash them all at once, because they'll go bad quicker. Make sure you take out any moldy ones, because, like apples, one bad strawberry will spoil the whole bunch. Unlike our high maintenance friends above, strawberries should be stored in the fridge once they're ripe. They've everyone's favourite fruit and get eaten up, so I won't even bother telling you how to make them last longer. I've also read about washing them with a vinegar solution, and did try it this summer. It seemed to work, but I ate them within 2 days anyways, so not exactly the controlled scientific experiment needed to be sure.

6. Potatoes: These are pretty much pennies for a pound here right now, so I could save a few bucks by picking up a huge load. Turns out that storing them isn't as simple as putting them in a cold dark place, so you can read all about it here. Our problem was storing our onions and potatoes together, they release gases that cause each other to rot quicker. Note taken.

7. Cabbage: Someone recently told me to store our copious amounts of cabbage like potatoes or onions, in a cool dark place. Nope, wrong again! Heads of cabbage should be stores in a container in the fridge, and used within a week or two. I'll probably just try making at least one head of cabbage into homemade sauerkraut, so I can get some probiotics in me, too. Double score.

I'm curious, leave a comment with a fruit or veggie that YOU think should have been on this list!