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Common Produce Storage Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

June 28, 2024 | Jasmine Karichi

Produce storage mistakes can end up costing a lot of money and sometimes have far-reaching consequences. In most cases, the consequences go beyond money and wasted food and can lead to food poisoning or worse! Produce storage is a practice that requires good handling skills from people and individuals with a keen eye on issues … Continued

Produce storage mistakes can end up costing a lot of money and sometimes have far-reaching consequences. In most cases, the consequences go beyond money and wasted food and can lead to food poisoning or worse! Produce storage is a practice that requires good handling skills from people and individuals with a keen eye on issues surrounding good hygiene and the environment they find themselves in. 

Most produce like vegetables and fruits do not take long before going bad, and poor storage simply means the product will go bad no matter the conditions. Below are some of the common produce storage mistakes, and what you can do to avoid them in your home or business. 

Storing Root Vegetables 
Most people store root vegetables like beets and carrots with their leaves. In doing so, the vegetables themselves end up having a shorter shelf-life as the water within the root vegetables is used to keep these leaves alive versus the vegetable itself. The top part will keep drawing all the vegetable’s water leaving the edible part, that we want, dry and reducing its shelf-life exponentially. To avoid this, it is recommended to remove the top part and place the roots in a cool, dry place. If this strategy is actively used and each part stored correctly in a proper place like a refrigerator, these root vegetables such as carrots and beets can end up having a much longer shelf life than anticipated.

Placing produce in the wrong storage facility
We assume that a fridge is pretty much perfect for the storage of almost every produce. However, some produce are more finicky and prefer their own very specific method of storage. Tomatoes, for instance, are extremely temperature-sensitive, and storing them in refrigerators is not usually advisable.

A fridge may seem like a place where the temperature stays the same but every time you open a fridge door, the temperature inside the fridge drastically fluctuates. If stored in refrigerators, the tomato loses flavor and its texture, as well as taste, diminishes. Instead of putting tomatoes into a fridge, experts suggest placing them on countertops where temperatures are friendly and less likely to fluctuate. Make sure to cover the tomatoes you leave on your counter to protect them from flies and other insects that will happily devour your fresh produce. 

Don’t mix many varieties of produce together in the same storage unit
This is usually a big mistake most people make while storing produce-related products. Some vegetables such as onions and garlic have strong flavors and smells. When stored in the same storage facility with other fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and green vegetables, it is likely that their overpowering flavor will seep through the bag or box they are being held in and actually cause them to go bad more quickly.

Another example of vegetables and fruits that do not need to be stored together include apples and bananas. Onions and apples release certain gases which can actually make the fruits and vegetables they are stored with go bad fast. A good practice is to never store strong-flavored fruits and vegetables with other produce. In some cases, mixing different fruits with other produce is done purposely to cause them to ripen, like avocados for instance. Speeding up the ripening of produce is a sure way to guarantee they will go bad fast. Place produce away from gas-producing fruits and vegetables and place them in a paper bag to help stop this from occurring. 

Failure to clean storage facilities regularly
Most food spoilages are due to the cleanliness and upkeep of the storage facilities themselves. If your fridge or kitchen has poor ventilation, poor hygiene, or bad temperatures this can directly impact your produce and its shelf life.

It is recommended that you ensure all storage surfaces are cleaned from inside out, keep an eye on the temperature to limit fluctuations, and ensure decent ventilation to guarantee your produce lasts as long as possible!

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