Here are our BEST STORAGE TIPS for looking after our produce once it becomes yours! These are gleaned from decades as eaters and cookers (on a budget!), hospitality food workers and farmers...tried and tested countless times...
Separate fruit and vegetables in storage
Separate ethylene producing items from ethylene sensitive items for storage. In general, fruits give off more ethylene than vegetables and vegetables are more sensitive to the harmful effects of ethylene. Two crisper bins is always best and you should use one crisper bin for fruits and the other for vegetables best as possible.
Decayed or damaged produce will produce much higher levels of ethylene than normal. In addition, mould and fungal spores can easily transfer from one piece to another. The purpose of taking the time to store your produce well, is the primary factor that will help prevent these issues AND wastage. It's always a good idea to use up all your produce either fresh or cook and freeze meals/items where needed and possible too.
Use sealed containers or plastic bags
Most fresh produce requires humidity levels of 80-95% for best storage results but your refrigerator humidity level is only about 65%. So keep your produce in plastic bags to stop them from dehydrating (no paper towels necessary!), particularly products like herbs and leafy greens and others that do not have an outer skin of their own. Although, we find storing all of our fruit and veg produce at home this way works better than anything (incl. carrots and beets BUT excluding garlic, onions, tomatoes and potatoes). In regards to plastic bags...we get that they are not ideal (because they're plastic!) but they do work really well for this and when at cold temps do not off-gas VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or other nasties. We re-use them until they're 'cactus', rinsing and drying in between when necessary. However, I have recently heard of a new veg storage bag product on the market (no plastic, reusable), which I plan to purchase a trial set off and once I have done so, I will report back as to whether they 'cut the mustard' (because all others we've tried do not!)
Don’t soak away nutrients
Soaking risks leaching nutrients so you should avoid soaking fruits and vegetables in water for too long. Water-soluble vitamins and minerals (e.g. Vit C) can leach into the water and diminish the nutrient value when you eat them.
Remove Excess Moisture - Delicate leafies like to be picked, washed and taken for a spin!
Vegetables need a certain amount of moisture to remain fresh as long as possible. However, too much moisture can shorten the storage of vegetables, especially lettuce, endive, spinach leaves and other salad leaves. Brown spots may develop with excess moisture. It is really, really helpful for storing these leafies successfully if lettuce e.t.c. is picked from its heart or stalks, briefly washed in pure water then well spun in a salad spinner or well drained before storing in a plastic bag or container. Some storage containers feature a special drainage device to raise the lettuce off the bottom and keep it from sitting in accumulated moisture.
Not all produce needs the fridge
Garlic, potatoes and Onions for example should be stored in a cool dry place in the cupboard or pantry. Keeping potatoes this way avoids `greening' and sprouting; remove from plastic bags and place in a strong paper bag, box or in a wire or plastic bin.
Tomatoes should be ripened at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. They ripen best in mildly warm temperatures, will be tastier and retain their nutrients (& develop more as they ripen naturally) if stored at room temperature AWAY FROM DIRECT LIGHT (That's right, NOT on your window sill in full sun!). When fully ripe, especially in hot weather, they may be stored in the refrigerator for several days. However, they will gradually lose flavour and some soft areas may develop in the flesh.
Avoid the root shrivel! By removing leafy tops from carrots, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips and beetroot, their storage life can be extended to many weeks or even several months in the refrigerator.
Skin is nutrient packed
Many nutrients are concentrated just beneath the skin of vegetables and fruit. Avoid peeling them when you can. Even if you don't eat the skin, try to leave it on as the fruit or vegetable cooks to preserve nutrients. There is absolutely no real need to peel our carrots, beets, potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes - there has been NO toxic agro-chemicals sprayed on/near them and the skins are not tough or bitter (even for babies).
Hold off chopping until ready to eat
Cutting or chopping foods high in Vitamin C releases an enzyme that can destroy the vitamin, plus they oxidize in the air. It's best to leave fruit and vegetables whole until you're ready to eat or cook them.
When fresh produce is cut, enzymes will cause darkening on the cut surface due to the increased presence of oxygen (i.e. they oxidize). It is best to keep cut produce tightly wrapped and to eat them as soon as possible. Some things that brown very quickly can be soaked briefly in water with a tablespoon of lemon juice just before cooking/eating.
Maintain Proper Refrigerator Temperatures as well as clean door seals that are not perished or hardening!