Ever wondered why your cucumber is mushy, or why your watermelon has a funny smell? Many of our fridge rental customers think there’s something wrong with their fridge when produce goes bad. What they don’t realise is that the combination of different fruits and vegetables can wreak havoc on each other if stored together, causing problems like over-ripening, rotting and strange odours.
To keep your fresh produce at its best for as long as possible, it’s important to understand how to organise fruit and veggies in your fridge. We’ve written before about the areas in your fridge that are most suitable for different types of food, like dairy or meat. But when it comes to produce, it’s not only where you put items in the fridge that matters, it’s what you store them with, too!
Is it a friend or a foe?
We know it can be tempting to just throw everything into the veggie drawer, but taking care to organise your fridge will keep your produce healthy and fresh for much longer.
A general rule of thumb is that you should keep your vegetables and your fruits away from each other. Fruits typically emit more ethylene gas (known as the ‘ripening hormone’), which can cause your veggies to spoil. Keep these two groups separated by storing them in different parts of your fridge, or by using airtight bags and containers.
Here’s a list of common high-ethylene producers, and the foods that are most sensitive:
Sometimes, it’s complicated…
Different ethylene levels can affect fruits in different ways, and some produce is best kept out of the fridge altogether as cold temperatures can cause them to rot or lose their flavour.
It can be tricky to know how to organise your fridge to make sure you’re taking the best care of your produce, so here’s our run-down of how and where to store common items to keep them fresh for longer:
– Keep your cauliflower and broccoli together in the fridge, but away from other produce.
– Carrots, beetroots and radishes do not emit gases or odours as they ripen, so are safe in the fridge around other low-ethylene food items.
– Greens (including lettuce, kale, spinach, green beans and celery) should be kept away from high-ethylene fruit – store them together in the vegetable crisper or salad drawer.
– Mushrooms should be kept in a paper bag or airtight container in the fridge. They are not particularly sensitive to ethylene, but moisture will make them slimy so keep them dry and only wash them right before cooking.
– Leave corn in its husk if you can, and store it in a dry spot in your refrigerator, alongside your mushrooms or carrots is perfect!
– The low temperature in your fridge can make your cumbers go mushy, so keep them at room temperature. If you want your cucumber chilled (for that refreshing G&T), try putting it in a warmer part of the fridge (like your cheese drawer) away from high-ethylene fruits.
– Keep onions and garlic out of the fridge as their strong odour will be absorbed by your other produce. A cool, dark and dry place like the bottom shelf of your pantry is perfect.
– Capsicums are also best kept out of the fridge, but if you do need to keep them cool in warmer months try to limit it to one or two days, and keep them separate to high-ethylene producers.
– Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be kept out of the fridge, too. Store them instead in a dry, dark place like your pantry.
– Apples are generally the biggest culprit in rotting other fruits and vegetables! They will be fine alongside other high-ethylene producers such as apricots, cantaloupe and figs, but you should organise your fridge to keep them away from most other produce.
– As well as being ethylene-sensitive, watermelon absorbs odours from other foods very easily. It pays to keep it out of the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. Anywhere cold and dark (like the pantry) will be fine and once opened, keep slices in the fridge in an airtight container.
– Oranges, lemons, and limes will live happily next to each other in your fruit bowl, or you can extend the life citrus fruits by storing in your fridge. Just remember to keep these ethylene producers away from your ethylene sensitive produce!
– Tomatoes can rot quickly and lose their flavour when kept in the fridge, so it’s best to keep them on the counter or in your fruit bowl.
– Berries can be stored together in the fridge. Keep them dry to avoid rotting and wash before eating.
– Blueberries are the only high-ethylene producers of the berry family, so store these separately.
– Grapes and cherries should be kept away from ethylene-sensitive foods. You can store these together in a plastic bag or container, and wash before eating.
– Let your avocados ripen on the counter. Once ripe, you can extend their lifespan by storing in the fridge but be careful to keep them away from ethylene-sensitive foods.
– Bananas are a tricky one. They are sensitive to ethylene while ripening so it’s best to keep them out of the fridge, but once ripe they become a high-ethylene producer so you can keep them in the fridge but away from other sensitive produce.
– Stone fruits are similar to bananas. Keep your peaches, plums and other stone fruit out of the fridge while ripening. Once ripe, you can refrigerate them for one to two days.
There’s nothing worse than spending your Saturday morning at the markets, only to have all your fresh produce spoiled within a few days of getting it home! If you’re following our tips above to organise your fridge and are still finding your produce isn’t keeping as well as it should, you might have a bigger problem. Fluctuating temperatures and dodgy fridge seals can also be a major cause of food spoiling. If you think you might need a replacement fridge, or would like to know more about how to make best use of your rental fridge, get in touch with the ACECO team today.