Keeping Fruit Fresh Longer

Keeping Fruit Fresh Longer

By Michael Jenkins

For many of us across the US and Canada, now’s the time that our gardens are giving us fresh fruit in great quantity. Blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apricots—whatever thrives in your part of the world is likely producing right now. And while that’s wonderful, it can lead to a few interesting problems, like how to keep all this fruit fresh!

In previous blogs, we’ve explored ways to save the flavors of citrus fruits, and how dehydrating garden produce can help you preserve the flavors of the season. We encourage you to revisit those two articles and make use of those techniques this season—the results are quite delicious. Right now we’re going to talk about some easy ways you can keep fruit fresh in your fridge or on your counter for a bit longer. Fresh fruit can last longer than you think with the right preparation, so let’s dig in!

Keeping Berries Fresh with Vinegar

Washing berries in a simple solution of white vinegar and water is a simple, affordable way to keep them fresher, longer and avoid losing or wasting your delicious fruit. With a little care, you can extend the life of fresh berries and other fruits, either store-bought or home-grown. The process is simple, and you likely have everything you need at home already.

  1. Go through your berries thoroughly, and make sure to remove any debris, dirt, or moldy, damaged, or overripe fruit. Debris, dirt, and moldy fruit can go into your compost heap; damaged or overripe fruit can be eaten or composted.
  2. In a large bowl or other container, combine three parts fresh water with one part white vinegar. We’ll leave the actual quantities up to you, as it depends on how much fruit you’re working with. Gently immerse the berries into this mixture and let them soak for a few minutes, occasionally stirring very gently—you don’t want to damage fruit at this stage, so use your hands to stir and wash them before and after.
  3. After 5-10 minutes of soaking and stirring, drain the berries in a colander placed in the sink and then rinse them off with fresh water. Tap water is fine, just go gently and rinse them thoroughly.
  4. Line a tray, baking sheet, or large plate with paper towels. Spread the fruit on it in a single layer and let the fruit air-dry.
  5. Store berries in a sealable container lined with paper towels. Jars can work but shallow containers often work best as they let you store fruit in single layer so they’re not stacked on top of each other. Leave the lid either partially open or just a little loose so that excess moisture can escape.

This method works by allowing the natural antibiotic properties of the vinegar to kill off mold spores and other microorganisms that cause mold or decay in fruit. While washing berries in vinegar solution helps keep them fresh longer, it doesn’t preserve them like canning does so keep an eye on them and use them reasonably quickly.

Keeping Fruit Fresh in the Refrigerator

As it turns out, keeping fruit fresh in your fridge is more complicated than just stacking it all in there and hoping for the best. The good news is that it’s not too complicated, and by remembering a few simple tips you’ll get the most out of the fresh fruit in your refrigerator.

First things first: some fruits don’t belong in the fridge. They’ll ripen better on your counter or in a basket and taste better as a result. As different as they may be, neither bananas nor tomatoes belong in your fridge until they’ve been cut or peeled. Store them on the counter away from the sun or heat, and as dry as possible. In damp or cold conditions they both lose flavor and quickly start to rot.

Melons are a bit more complicated. Whole cantaloupes, muskmelons, and honeydews all store best in the fridge, but keep them loose so air can circulate around them. If they press against each other, bruising and mold may set in. Watermelon should be stored out of the fridge while whole and kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Cut watermelon—like all cut fruit—should be stored in the fridge.

Fruits with large stones or pits often do best when allowed to ripen whole on the counter in a paper bag and then moved to the fridge when ripe. These include peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and (surprisingly) avocado.

Apples are surprisingly tricky. They store well—up to a week or so on the counter and up to several months stored properly in the refrigerator. However, they do emit ethylene gas, which causes rapid ripening in other fruits, so store them away from other produce. The crisper bin in your fridge is a great place for them.


Enjoying the Flavors of Your Garden

With a little care and effort, you can keep your garden’s fruits fresh for longer and enjoy them throughout the season. Keeping fruit fresh gives you time to figure out what you want to do with it—use it in a favorite recipe, try another mode of food preservation, or just eat it as is! Gardzen is all about community and we love to hear from you, so get in touch and tell u what you’re doing with the fruit from your garden this summer!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published