Our Food Editors' Share Their Three Favorite Ways to Keep Fresh Produce from Wilting in the Refrigerator
There's nothing quite like bringing home fresh produce: brightly colored bell peppers, bunches of leafy greens, cucumbers, and carrots can inspire your meal prep. The problem is that keeping the vegetables fresh can be a challenge. What can you do to combat food waste? First, buy produce close to when you plan to eat it. That's what Lauryn Tyrell, our senior food editor, recommends. "Make sure it's fresh when you do buy it," she adds. "Shopping at farmers' markets is pretty much a guarantee that the produce you're buying was just harvested."
Our test kitchen team has a few more tips to ensure your vegetables stay fresh and wilt-free in the refrigerator. Here, find their best advice.
Remove from Plastic and Put in a Reusable Bag
One rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding vegetable wilting? Remove the produce from plastic. "Mushrooms wilt quickly if kept in plastic," Greg Lofts, our deputy food editor says. "I transfer them to a paper bag, which absorbs and then releases excess moisture rather than trapping it inside, that then turns in condensation—creating the perfect environment for rot." Reusable produce storage bags on the market can do the trick, like the Debbie Meyer Green Bags ($16.99, amazon.com) or Peak Fresh Reusable Bags ($12.99, amazon.com). (These are both go-tos for Greg.)
The Paper Towel Trick
As soon as you get home from the grocery store or market, rinse vegetables like greens and heartier herbs (think cilantro and parsley) in cold water and spin them in a salad spinner. Lauryn suggests dumping the water out a few times to make sure they are as dry as possible. "I then place them in resealable bags with a paper towel to ensure that any additional moisture is absorbed," she shares. More delicate herbs like basil, mint, and tarragon, should be washed when you are ready to use them for a meal.
Keep Certain Foods Away from Each Other
Even though fruits and vegetables can end up going in the same dish, you'll want to keep some away from each other until it's time to use them; apples are the prime example. "Apples release ethylene gas that causes other fruits and vegetables to ripen (or over-ripen) more quickly," says Greg. Pro tip? He keeps his apples on the top shelf of the refrigerator instead of in the crisper drawer with other produce. "Any excess moisture or mud or wet sand, like dirt that is caked onto veggies, can cause them to wilt and rot too, so it's best to clean and dry them thoroughly before storing in the fridge," he adds. "If I'm buying veggies with the greens still attached, I'll ask the vendor to cut them for me (if it's something like carrots) or I'll cut them when I get home and store them separate if the greens are something I'll cook (like beets)," Lauryn notes. "Contrary to what you might think, leaving the greens on veggies hastens the wilt!"