It’s a good idea to store fruit and veggies separately. Fruit that give off high ethylene can spoil surrounding veggies, and also some fruit! If anything is spoiled, remove it from the rest – the spores will spread and literally infect the others… see, your teacher was right about one bad apple! Before storing veggies, remove any rubber bands or ties and trim the leafy ends, but leave a few centimetres so they don’t dry out.
Apples: Lovely in a bowl on a counter, but they will start spoiling – the warmer it is, the quicker they’ll spoil. They fare much better in the fridge, either in a plastic bag or closed container or in the fruit drawer with a dampish towel. They are high ethylene releasers.
Pears: Pears are picked quite green, so can do with a bit of ripening. Store them at room temperature – not winter heated rooms! When their stems start to loosen slightly and their aroma fills the air, they are ripe. If you don’t eat them then, refrigerate until you do.
Citrus: I have always loved a bowl of lemons on display! Truth is though, they only last about a week before starting to dry out. It turns out all citrus prefer to be sealed in a plastic bag in the fridge! Their skins offer very little protection and they need a little TLC.
Bananas: Ripen very quickly and will accelerate the ripening of fruit and veggies. Store them in the fruit bowl but eat them quite quickly. They can be put in the fridge or, if in danger of over-ripening, in the freezer for use when you need them – the skin will turn black but the flesh will not be affected.
Grapes: Keep them at their best in a paper bag in the fridge where they’ll keep for a week or two.
Tomatoes: Don’t refrigerate tomatoes! They lose their taste and go mushy and mealy. Store on the counter, or even a sunny windowsill if you’re brave, to maximise flavour.
Kale: We love storing our kale ala’Ambersky – like a bunch of flowers! They’re gorgeous in an enamel jug.
Potatoes: They like a cool, dark and dry cupboard or corner. I never put mine in the fridge and I rarely have to throw any away. If you happen to have a root cellar – lucky you – put them in there.
Onions: Never in the fridge, but rather in a cool corner – apparently not with potatoes as they make each other go bad.
Garlic bulbs: Keep garlic out of the sun to prevent moulding. Keep out of the fridge to prevent deterioration and mould, keep it well-ventilated in a basket or even a paper bag but not in plastic. Don’t freeze garlic, it alters the texture and the taste… heresy!
Carrots: Trim the leaves as they will drain nutrients from the carrot. You may even see them regrow from the little stumps if you store them long enough! Many people store them in fresh water in the fridge, saying that keeps them wonderfully crisp, but I just loosen them up and put them in the fridge in a plastic or paper packet to stop them from going soft. I eat them within more or less a week.
Cauliflower: Store it whole in a plastic or paper bag and in the fridge. Put it stem-side down.
The longevity of meat varies significantly depending on the type of meat, the cut and the packaging. Almost all the meat received from Braeside Meat Market, for example, is vacuum packed, which extends shelf life. A big advantage when storing meat is that, unlike fruit and vegetables, it can be frozen and defrosted with minor, if any, loss of texture and flavour. However, meat also presents a greater risk of bacterial infection (food poisoning) if it is left too long before eating. For maximum enjoyment and food safety, follow these basic rules: