Shelf Help: A Guide to Fresh Food Storage*
As you focus on losing weight and developing healthier habits after seeing your weight loss surgeon, there are few better choices for your diet than fresh produce. Low in calories and high in nutritional value, fresh fruits and veggies should become mainstays of your kitchen as you thin down with your post-surgical diet, but storing these items can be confusing if you haven’t had them around before.
According to the USDA, Americans throw out about 14 percent of the food they buy. By knowing where to store fruits and veggies and how long they stay fresh, you can save yourself from this pitfall and minimize your whole family’s grocery bill. Though you should always follow your weight loss surgeon’s dietary guidelines, here’s a handy guide on where and when to store what to help you keep your kitchen fresh and organized.
- Apples. These can be stored on the counter, but should be moved to the fridge if uneaten after seven days. Regardless of where you store them, apples should not be placed near any other uncovered fruits or veggies, as apples produce ethylene gas that can ruin other produce. Though this can make foods like carrots very bitter, it can also be a useful tool—apples can be placed near other fruits like plums and pears to help them ripen quickly.
- Berries. More perishable than other types of fruit, berries require special care when storing to ensure maximum shelf life. They should be stored uncovered in the fridge in their original packaging and should not be rinsed until just before you use them—damp berries have a tendency to spoil and mold much faster. Blueberries and strawberries will last about five to seven days while the more fragile blackberries and raspberries will only last about two days. To keep your berries around longer, you can freeze them while they’re still fresh and add them to smoothies or thaw for other uses.
- Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes should be stored on the counter at room temperature. They usually last up to two weeks without any refrigeration.
- Leafy greens. Store these in the fridge and only wash them before you plan on using them. Full heads of greens will usually last between five and seven days, while thoroughly-drained bags may only last four days. Be sure to keep them away from ethylene-producing produce like apples, pears and bananas, as they will make these greens go bad faster.
- Tomatoes. For the most even ripening, spread these out on the counter away from direct sunlight. Once ripe, tomatoes should be stored in the fridge stem down and will typically last another three days.
- Tropical fruit. Like most fruits, mangoes, papayas, pineapples and kiwis should be ripened on the counter and moved into the fridge after a few days. Some tropical fruits may benefit from storage in a paper bag in a cool place before being moved into the fridge when ripe. Many fruits (bananas, avocado, pears) benefit most from being ripened at room temperature and stored in the fridge until eaten.
Different foods need to be stored in different ways. Learning the best ways to keep produce will keep you using everything you buy before it goes bad, helping you keep every meal as fresh as possible as you lose weight. Using this guide and your weight loss surgeon’s instructions, you can keep everything in your kitchen fresh, healthy and ideal for weight loss.
What are some other valuable produce storage guidelines? Share your tips and experiences with us in the comments below!
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*Weight loss surgery results vary between individuals depending on the initial weight, medical conditions and adherence to prescribed treatments. Speak to Dr. Bass about the results you can expect.