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5 Tips to Maximize the Shelf Life of Your Produce

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
February 25, 2024
February 26, 2024

While buying in bulk can be a fantastic way to save money, you might be disappointed when the carefully chosen goodies in your fridge spoil faster than you'd like. On the bright side, you don't have to be a culinary expert to keep your food from going bad. It's simply a matter of employing some easy kitchen hacks. If you want to get the most out of your grocery budget and reduce food waste, stick around for my 5 tips to ensure your produce stays fresh and flavorful.

1. Wrap Moisture-Releasing Produce in Paper Towels

Do you ever wonder why the leafy greens, berries, and mushrooms become mushy so quickly after you bring them home? These foods have a knack for soaking up moisture – a fast track to spoilage. But here's a simple fix: give them a good wash, pat them dry completely, and then wrap them into paper towels before they hit the fridge. Paper towels work like a charm. They are great at absorbing excess moisture and thwarting the growth of mold and bacteria. It's a budget-friendly trick that'll make you feel like a kitchen wizard in no time.

2. Create Breathing Room for Ethylene Producers

Ever notice how certain fruits and veggies seem to spoil faster when kept together? Well, it's because of ethylene, a natural plant hormone that plays an important role in the ripening process. To keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer, provide a bit of breathing room – keep ethylene producers like apples, bananas, and ripe tomatoes away from ethylene-sensitive companions such as leafy greens, broccoli, and berries. This simple trick prevents premature spoiling and extends the freshness of your produce.

3. Don't Pre-Cut Produce Too Early

While the ease of reaching for pre-cut fruits and veggies is tempting, especially when meal prepping, we trade convenience for freshness. Slicing produce and fruits exposes the inner bits to air, fast-tracking oxidation and spoilage. I recommend sticking to the golden rule: only pre-cut what you intend to munch on in the next day or two. This way, you can enjoy quick snacks without sacrificing the longevity of your produce.

4. Soak Berries in a Vinegar Bath

Give your berries a little spa day with a vinegar bath to extend  their shelf life. Let them soak in a mix of water and vinegar (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water) for around 5 minutes. This nifty trick puts a damper on mold and bacteria and keep your berries in their prime for longer. After the vinegar bath, be sure to give them a good rinse and a thorough pat dry before putting them away. For an extra boost of freshness, wrap them in paper towels.

5. Hydrate Celery and Carrots

Unlike a lot of other produce, celery and carrots, need a lot of extra moisture to pack in that “perfect crunch .” Get them ready for that satisfying bite by pre-cutting, thoroughly washing, then fully submerging them in a roomy container such as a 32-oz Mason jar.


Implementing these practical tips can revolutionize your approach to preserving the freshness of your bulk purchases. Whether you're meal prepping or simply aiming to eat healthier, these strategies will prove invaluable in making your groceries go the extra mile. Say goodbye to premature spoilage and hello to longer-lasting, flavorful produce. Your wallet and your taste buds will thank you.

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