Last week we gave you some beginner’s tips on how to begin a compost system for the food you don’t end up using. This week, we thought it would be useful to follow that up with some handy tips and tricks on how to prevent your fruits, veggies, and herbs from ending up in the compost pit. Keeping produce fresh as long as possible can be complicated, but we will try to make it easier for you with these simple steps.
Ethylene is a harmless gas given off by all fresh produce as it ripens. The gas speeds the ripening process of fruits and vegetables, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on what you want to do. You can harness the power of ethylene to ripen hard avocados or stone fruits by placing the unripe items in a paper bag on the counter with a few bananas or apples, which give off more ethylene gas than other foods. This will have your avocados ripe within a day or two. On the other hand, if you want to keep produce from ripening too quickly, simply keep it away from high-ethylene producers in a separate drawer in the fridge. The blog SparkPeople.com has a handy little chart here that will help you figure out what to store together and what to keep separate.
Ethylene gas is the principle behind produce freshness bags like Debbie Meyer and Evert-Fresh. These bags contain a chemical called zeolite, which absorbs and cancels out the effect of the ethylene gas. This works well for produce that should be bagged, like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, but other items, like bananas and tomatoes, shouldn’t be put in plastic bags at all.
Reviving Limp Produce
Some items, especially stalks like celery or rhubarb, can be brought back from the edge of extinction by placing them in a bowl of cold water for a few hours. If your celery is limp to the point of being unappetizing, try this trick and the celery will soak up the water back into its cells, firming it up and making it look like the day it was picked! This trick works with limp carrots as well, though they won’t taste as fresh as they would have been before going limp.
Let us know what you think, and as always, have a great weekend!