How to Store Your Food So It Lasts Longer

Helpful household tip site Gomestic teaches us how to store our food so it will last longer. Here’s one tip we didn’t know:

Organize fruits and veggies: We often toss produce into crispers together, but apples and some other fruits give off gas called ethylene that speeds ripening in vegetables. So store them separate, so vegetables don’t ripen too fast

What? Apples are ruining our veggies with secret gases? Damn it, Apples!

How to Store Your Food So It Lasts Longer [Gomestic]
(Photo:Spidra Webster)

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  1. MeOhMy says:

    Also, fruits and veggies like different humidity levels. On a lot of newer fridges, the crisper drawers have a sliding baffle. This is another reason to keep the fruits and veggies separate.

    My big tip is to get a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal just about everything.

  2. He says:

    If you shake milk daily it will last longer. This from a friend who bought 2 gallons with the same sell by date and shook one daily, but not the other. Neither was consumed at all. The shaken milk lasted about an extra week before going bad.

    Scientific? No. Anecdotastic? Totally.

  3. kimsama says:

    Another secret that has saved me a ton of money is that a head of lettuce lasts like a billion times longer than bagged lettuce. If you don’t mind about 1 minute of washing and spinning, you’ll have lettuce that lasts 2 to even 3 weeks instead of 5 or 6 days. I got so tired of throwing out half a bag every week.

    And P.S. I don’t care if refrigerating bananas makes them last longer. It makes them look all creepy and they never taste right afterwards.

  4. What? Apples are ruining our veggies with secret gases? Damn it, Apples!

    HAHAHAHAHA! The apples turned your lettuce brown by farting on it!

    I didn’t know that either. The banana tip I recently figured out on my own recently after turning the A/C off during the day killed the second to last bunch I bought.

  5. timmus says:

    I found an awesome way to preserve apples. Cut them up into slices, soak them in 3 cups of water that have had about 4 vitamin C tablets dissolved in it, then refrigerate. Nice crispy apple slices that don’t turn brown for many days! I’m stoked as it’s given me a brand new snack food.

  6. MameDennis says:

    The apple gases can be handy–if you have underripe fruit, you throw it in a paper bag with an apple, et voila!

  7. RST1123 says:

    @timmus:

    Keep them in the water, in the fridge? Or remove the apples after soaking in the spiked water for how many minutes?

  8. hi says:

    Apples are great to store near your fog machine.

    [consumerist.com]

  9. hi says:

    Apples are great to store next to your fog machine.

  10. Asvetic says:

    Anyone know a good resource that lists average expiration periods for OPENED foods. Some of the use by dates on containers don’t really help. And if I get a lb of turkey sliced, there is now use by date.

  11. Streyeder says:

    “So store them separate, so vegetables don’t ripen too fast.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a major difference between fruits and veggies that veggies cease to ripen once picked and begin to rot instead, while fruit ripens?

  12. hebear mcghee says:

    @Asvetic: many of your prepackaged luncheon meats will mention that opened product should be consumed within 5-7 days, same rule for the premium stuff.

  13. freshyill says:

    My mom always says to never keep apples and carrots together. I forget what she said would happen if you did though. Ragnarök, maybe?

  14. ElizabethD says:

    @He:

    “Anecdotastic” is my new favorite word!

    And the lettuce tip, above, is absolutely correct. I threw away so much pre-washed, pre-bagged lettuce, it was obscene. Now I buy the bags of three romaine bunches and wash one at a time, and store it in a partially closed Ziploc after washing and spinning dry. We get through a week or more of lettuce easily with this method.

    Along the same lines, I highly recommend Oxo’s new smaller lettuce-spinner. It’s so easy to use and clean, and stores without taking up tons of space. I keep my little Oxo in a cabinet right above the kitchen sink along with colanders, so they are always ready to grab and use. If my kitchen were laid out differently, I’d hang them on pegs or hooks near the sink.

  15. velvetjones says:

    Also –the crisper drawers are the coldest spot in the fridge, the worst place for produce, but the best place for beer.

  16. ElizabethD says:

    @hebearmcghee:

    Actually, fresh deli-sliced luncheon meats (as opposed to pre-packaged and sealed ones) seldomn last a week. I try to use ours up in three days or less. They get stinky pretty fast once they’re opened.

  17. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @freshyill: Making a glass of juice with apples and carrots is very good. Also very good for you.

  18. appleface says:

    @timmus: Acidulated water works to keep apples from turning brown. It’s probably easier and cheaper than dissolving vitamin C tablets.

    Besides isn’t more work to cut the apples up and store them in the fridge than it is to eat a whole apple when you want a snack?

  19. stpauliegirl says:

    @ElizabethD: Thanks for the tip on the lettuce spinner; I’ve been looking to eat more salads at home, and that is just what I need.

    Lately I’ve been buying only buy OXO brand stuff for my kitchen after seeing them on Above and Beyond on this site. Their products are very nice, and it’s nice to know the company stands behind them!

  20. junkmail says:

    @MameDennis: Use that one all the time on Avacados. Works great on bananas too, since I can’t STAND bananas unless they’re literally seconds from turning to mush, (however, once mush stage is achieved, ick. Banana bread time).

  21. 1. This website doesn’t tell me why my bananas stay green but still ripen, to the point where I forget to eat them

    2. I feel like I got this idea off of Consumerist, but I exhale into my spinach bags and seal them off to keep them fresher. The C02 keeps the rot away.

  22. anams0184 says:

    you can also just squeeze some lemon juice on your apples to keep them ripe after they’ve been sliced…i used to hate how my apple slices would go brown btwn when i sliced them in the morning and when i wanted to eat them at lunch time….but my friend told me the trick of the lemon juice and it works perfectly!

  23. ekthesy says:

    Keep your herbs fresh! Wrap them in a damp paper towel, stick them in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerate. I have 3 week-old sage in the fridge, and mint that’s been around for a month.

    Exception: DO NOT put fresh basil in the refrigerator; it will turn black. Rather, pluck the leaves off the bottoms of the stems so you have about 5″ of bare stem, and stand the whole bunch in a glass of water on your countertop. Change the water daily. The basil should last awhile and you may even get it to sprout roots, at which point you can plant it.

    (“Special” herbs should be kept in the freezer.)

  24. protest says:

    if you do buy the bagged lettuce, get a big bowl, line it with paper towels, and dump in the greens. cover with more paper towels and store in the fridge, the greens won’t get all slimy and gross in the bag, but will shrivel after about a week.
    for heads of romaine: break off leaves at the base, wash and dry well, then seal in freezer bags and store in fridge. i swear i’ve kept lettuce fresh for 3 weeks this way.

  25. stubblyhead says:

    @velvetjones: Wow, what a fantastic idea. We often store soda in the drawers, but I never thought to put my beer down there. I’m not sure they are tall enough for standing bottle though.

  26. AcidReign says:

        So, I don’t have to toss a bottle of Guinness in the ice bin an hour before dinner anymore, just put it in the vegetable crisper?

        My rule for the fridge is to keep turning the knob down a notch a day, till stuff like leftover rice starts freezing, then bump it back up a half-notch. And when jug of milk goes bad, back down a notch. This tends to happen seasonally. My kitchen is hot in the summer, and cold in the winter, being the last duct in line from the furnace/AC.

        I must say, though, that if something goes bad in our fridge, no one wanted it. I have two teenaged kids, and they’ll eat mass quantities of ANYTHING!

  27. adamondi says:

    Everyone should watch a little more Alton Brown. He had a show about apples a few years ago that told all about the gases they give off, and the effects those gases have on surrounding fruits and vegetables.

  28. nardo218 says:

    Bananas cause ripening, too.

    I never put them in the fridge, tho, they turn black overnight.

  29. thepounder says:

    @He: I’ve done the “shake the milk” trick before & I can attest it does indeed work.

    I had no idea apples “farted” and ruined the veggies next to them. How depressing.

  30. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @appleface: “Acidulated”??

    @ekthesy: “Special” herbs? Like chives that came in on a short truck?

    What I want to know is how to keep those @#%!! bugs out of my flour and rice!

  31. AlexDitto says:

    @adamondi: A good tip. Alton has covered most of this stuff before, and more. For instance, garlic and onions rot if moist; potatos give off moisture, so don’t store them together, or your onions will rot.

    Carrots and beets are ideally stored in a plastic box filled with cleaned, dried sand, like play sand from the hardware store. The sand helps regulate the moisture.

    And if you don’t have cable, you can read Good Eats transcripts online. All sorts of nifty tips! [www.goodeatsfanpage.com]

  32. etinterrapax says:

    @krylonultraflat: I have a suspicion that someone between the banana tree and my house sprays some bananas greener than they really are, but perhaps I’m just being cynical. It doesn’t always happen, but it did once.

    I stick overripe bananas in the freezer to save for banana bread. It’s much better, sweeter and more flavorful, with very ripe bananas, and less wasteful than throwing them away. I also keep nuts, coconut, extra butter (which can also be frozen), and pizza dough in the other crisper drawer. Fruit, except grapes, goes on the counter. And I have found that dairy with higher fat, like heavy cream, stays fresh indefinitely if you put it near the cold-air register in the fridge. Waaaaay past the expiration date. So does sour cream, yogurt, ricotta, and cream cheese. If it doesn’t have mold or smell bad, it’s fine.

  33. etinterrapax says:

    @doctor_cos: Tupperware canisters. Also, if you get the grain moths, you can buy little tent-shaped pheromone traps at the hardware store (a real hardware store, not HD). We had them when we moved into this place, and they didn’t come back after I put the traps out for as long as they go. I think, three months.

    Brown sugar, also, will stay fresh and soft in an airtight canister indefinitely. I never remember all of those tricks for softening it up, and now I don’t have to.

  34. Techguy1138 says:

    Leafy precut veggies like spinach stay good a lot longer if you open the bag and place paper towels on the top and bottom. I’ve been able to keep bags of precut spinach good for weeks like this. Change the paper towels when they get damp.

    Throw out the spinach if they turn damp and green. it’s not bad but no longer tastes very good.

  35. formergr says:

    @stpauliegirl: If you have the room for it in your fridge, I recommend the larger salad spinner. I wash my lettuce, spin it well, and then making sure the bowl of the spinner is dried inside, I leave the lettuce in the spinner with a couple of paper towels added. I store the whole thing in the fridge, and the washed and torn lettuce lasts for over a week.

    Since it’s all ready to be used in there, it also encourages me to eat salads more since it’s so much simpler to throw one together.

  36. bboehm says:

    Somehow Verizon will be found responsible for all the refigerated food going bad.

  37. HungryGrrl says:

    @Techguy1138: I do the same paper towel trick. When the spinach seems about to go limp and bad, I will saute it even if I don’t plan on eating it right away.. the cooked spinach will last a few more days in the fridge. I’ll do the same thing with meat- has that last chicken breast been in there for a few days? Better to spend ten minutes poaching it now than risk it having gone bad by tomorrow night.

    The lifespan of broths can be extended by boiling them every few days.

    I keep brownies and other baked goods fresh longer by wrapping them in individual portions instead of leaving them in the pans.

    Fresh herbs like basil keep best if treated like flowers- trim the stems with a sharp knife and immerse in a jar of water and put on the windowsill in your kitchen. Change the water every other day and the basil will last over a week!

  38. swalve says:

    @ElizabethD: I think it depends on the treatment of the deli meats prior to when you get it. At my previous store, they’d have specials on different products, and they’d slice a bunch of it ahead. Whenever I got that stuff, it went bad days ahead of freshly sliced. It also depends on the dirtiness of the slicer (machine and the person).

    Best thing for storing food is to store it as cold as it will tolerate. I refrigerate nearly everything. Buy Taylor refrigerator thermometers and keep the fridge 33-35. If it’s above 40, it’s not a refrigerator, it’s an incubator. Freezer should be as cold as it will go. Remember that freezing doesn’t STOP spoilage, it just slows it. The colder/slower, the better.

  39. Goatweed says:

    as the first reply stated, foodseal bags are probably the best way to keep foods fresh. When the wife goes to costco she’ll buy the huge tray of chicken breasts and I’ll seal those bad boys up that night, and freeze them to last for months. The machines & bags are relatively inexpensive in the ling run, and both can be bought from a BB&B or LNT cheaply with one of the millions of 20% off coupons that they mail out every month.

    foodseal bags are also great for storing dried herbs…if you’re into that sort of thing.

  40. appleface says:

    @doctor_cos: Absolutely! Works like a charm. I learned about that from one of those learning things. They published a book, I think the guy’s name was Dick Shanary.

    I can’t remember the title though… that’ll bug me all day.

  41. stpauliegirl says:

    @formergr: Thanks for the additional tips. I recently bought a super-duper awesome fridge that definitely has room for something like that, so I’ll definitely pick one up the next time I am at my discount store of choice!

    [www.flickr.com]

  42. layton59 says:

    NO-FAT or SKIMMED Milk lasts many days longer than 2% and WHOLE (4%) Milk in the fridge. It requires getting used to the taste. I changed over 25 years ago (while doing DEAL-A-MEAL) and VERY SOON preferred No-Fat over Fat milk. It also has the benefit of zero fat and many less calories.