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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Produce Fresh

Today’s tip comes from a reader question to The New York Times: Does the mist that grocers spray on fresh vegetables keep them fresh or hasten spoilage?

It depends. Without spraying, many vegetables would wilt, since, after harvest, they go into a drier environment and cannot replenish water through their roots.

On the other hand, the water spray enables micro-organisms to start degrading the plant tissue.

Below, Dr. Randy W. Worobo, an associate professor of food microbiology at Cornell University, suggests the best way to store your produce once you get it home.


How To Extend The Life Of Fresh Produce


Extend the life of your produce with these
tips. Photo courtesy


You can throw away less produce—and save hundreds of dollars a year—with these simple steps.

  • Submerge produce in cold tap water for 5 to 15 minutes, until it is fully hydrated.
  • Drain and dry off the remaining moisture by blotting, using a salad spinner or simply letting the water evaporate at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Wrap the produce in a paper towel to absorb excess water, place it in a plastic bag (with the paper towel) and refrigerate.
    Storing herbs is a bit different.

  • Basil, Cilantro & Parsley. Certain herbs, like basil, are damaged by the cold in the refrigerator; the leaves will start to turn black. Instead of refrigerating, trim the ends and keep the herbs in an inch or two of water in a container on the counter, changing the water daily as with fresh flowers. Other long-stemmed herbs, such as cilantro and parsley, should be kept the same way.
  • Chives, Rosemary & Thyme. These herbs do go into the fridge, with a different treatment. Wrap them loosely in a paper towel and then in a plastic bag. Air needs to circulate, or the trapped moisture will attract mold. Place these herbs in the produce compartment or the butter compartment on the door, both of which are warmer than the rest of the fridge.
    As with all produce, don’t rinse herbs until you are ready to use them.

    Try A Freshness Extender

    You can buy freshness extenders for the produce drawer that dissipate the ethylene and keep the food fresher for longer. They’ve been a godsend in keeping our berries from rotting!

    The ethylene gas emitted by some types of produce hastens ripening—and then, spoilage. That’s why you can put green bananas in a closed bag for a day or two, which concentrates the gas for quick ripening.

    Apricots, kiwi fruits, peaches, pears and plums are also good ethylene producers. If any of these fruits are in a closed produce drawer with other items, the ethylene in the closed space will begin to degrade the neighboring produce.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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