Learn the Right Way to Store Produce

It's widely known that fruits and vegetables should be a large part of a healthy diet. Produce can be delicious, but many people shy away from fresh produce because they don't know how to store it properly. For anyone who has bitten into a mushy banana or found a slimy squash inside of the refrigerator, here is a primer on how to properly store produce. Proper storage also can save you money and prevent wasted food.

* Peaches, plums and other pitted fruits generally can be stored right on a counter at room temperature. These fruits are usually picked before ripe, and they will continue to ripen once you bring them home. If fruits are very ripe, then place them in a perforated plastic bag and put them in the top part of the refrigerator.

* Bananas are another fruit that is picked before optimal ripening, hence the green bunches you often find at the store. Bananas should be stored at room temperature until they are ripened. Again, if very ripe, bananas can be put in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. The skin will turn brown, but it won't affect the flesh of the fruit.

* Apples should be stored at room temperature and away from other fruits and vegetables. They produce a gas that can ripen other produce very quickly.

* Moisture is the enemy of most produce. You can store celery, carrots, lettuce, or cabbage in a crisper drawer in the refrigerator, but they should be kept dry and used quickly. Line the bottom of the drawer with an absorbant paper towel and be sure not to keep produce in tightly sealed plastic bags. Eventually moisture will rot these items or at least cause them to become soggy.

* Root vegetables such as potatoes, yams and onions do best at room temperature and away from the floor, or anywhere vermin may be present. A cool, dark place, such as a pantry cabinet, would be effective. Refrigeration may compromise the taste of many root vegetables.

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