Fresh Food 
Photo By yanlev/Courtesy Fotolia 

Learn how to keep food fresher for longer with these reader-submitted tips.

How to Keep Food Fresh Longer

I used to keep apples in the refrigerator, but found they didn't get eaten before they wrinkled. Now I keep them on the counter in plain sight and they are consumed quicker and you can see if they need to be cooked rather than eaten raw. - Heidi Hunt

Not sure if this tip is as much keeping it fresh as it is life extending, but when your green onions get to be about 2-3 inches from being done, you can put them in a glass jar with water. They will continue to grow. You can do this a few times before they are done. - Mike Lieberman

I got some vacuum seal plastic containers—they really work well to keep foods fresher longer. - Melissa Ferrin

Any leafy greens are immediately washed and spun in our very handy salad spinner. I have found (after removing all the spun-off water) that leaving the greens in the spinner, then in the fridge, keeps everything nice and fresh for days longer than in anything else I've tried. Not sure if the GSE (grapefruit seed extract) added in the wash water makes a difference, but it sure doesn't hurt! - Sumiko Sprague

I bought the stay-fresh bags advertised on late night TV at the dollar store. Amazingly, they work. They actually do what's advertised. - Wonder Wyant

I make celery last by cutting it to fit into a mason jar. I add cold water to the celery in the jar. Then store it in the fridge. It lasts way longer this way and stays very crispy/crunchy! - Amy Thomas

I make reusable cloth produce bags. Toss the greens in, dampen the bag and keep them in the fridge. - Karma Frances

Leafy greens are wrapped in newspaper. Something I learned from my mother. - Maria Ling

I grow sprouts for me and my chickens, so we have delicious fresh greens all winter. - Linda Ray

I live in Southern California. My vegetable garden isn't close to the house. On hot days my lettuce is wilted by the time I get to the house. I try to pick early in the morning. I pre-rinse my pickings in a bucket of water that I keep by the veggie garden. Then I put the produce in a small bucket of filtered water, carry it to the house, then immediately spin everything in my salad spinner. I divide the produce by type and put them in plastic containers that are lined with natural paper towels and store them in the veggie bin. When I need something it's ready to be used. - Marlies Calvillo

Proper prep when you get home from the store or farmer’s market helps extend the life of fresh produce. I break down heads of leaf lettuce, rinse each leaf with cool water, lay them out individually on a dry kitchen towel or length of paper towels, then gently roll up the towel into a “lettuce log,” place it into a large plastic bag or container and store it in the refrigerator. The towel helps absorb extra moisture and prevents the lettuce from touching the plastic and turning slimy. - Michelle Stubbings

I wash everything well and then put into a new bag with a dry paper towel to catch any lingering mositure. I agree with the celery tip; I use my plastic containers, but cold water is the way to go for carrots, too. Cabbage and butternut from last year's garden are stored in a cool room since I don't have a root celler. - Denise Berry-West

I wash with colloidal silver. It also keeps meat fresh longer. - Steve LaFontaine  

My best advice is to grow them yourself! Since I started gardening I have hardly thrown out any spoiled produce. Even if you fail to harvest the complete crop at its peak, it can still be fed to the chickens or composted so it doesn't really go to waste. - Megan Lightell

Meal Planning and my freezer are my best friends for saving produce. The instant I get home with produce I plan my week's meals in order of what produce perishes faster. Whatever is left at the end of the week gets washed and prepared then placed in a freezer bag. If you lay them flat, they stay nice and tidy in the freezer. Greens, blanched and chopped tomatoes, chopped onions all work well this way and especially fruit. There is nothing like finding a bag of sliced Colorado peaches in the freezer on a February morning. Of course, you must wash and reuse the freezer bags! - Crystal Vincent

The stay-fresh bags really do work. I use them all the time here in Canada where our growing season is short and salad greens cost an arm and a leg in the winter. But if it gets away from me, I feed it to my chickens! - Kathy Huszar Morash

Seriously, I grew up in a family that relied on a freezer and canning our own food. We kept potatoes, squash, melons and various root stock in the well house which had a floor made for that. The grandparents had root cellars.We generally ate fresh out of the garden and the food zoo. If things started to go bad, we recycled them to chickens, duck,s goats, etc... We generally avoided the grocery store except for things we could not get otherwise (sometimes a Pepsi is mighty tasty). - Drake Miller

When produce gets to the point of "eat now or toss" I just freeze. Any green veggies (string beans, broccoli, etc.) I give a quick 1 or 2 minute dunk in boiling water and freeze in a zipper bag. Tomatoes are even easier—just remove any garden schmutz and freeze in a zipper bag. The cool thing about frozen tomatoes is how the skins just slip right off under warm running water. - K.C. Simmers

Celery, cilantro, lettuces, chards—leafy things get a damp paper towel at the bottom of bag or container. I take my carrots, peppers, cucumbers out of their bags to breathe in the crisper drawer. - Duranne Collins Mungall

Strange as it is, if you wash lettuce in cold water and rinse in hot it will stay crisper longer. - Karla Biddle-Hayfield

Radishes sliced and kept in cold water will keep them longer. Taking produce out of the plastic bags will keep them from sweating also, which keeps down the mold.

Similar to KC Simmers above, when produce gets to the 'eat now or toss' stage, I chop it up and freeze it for soups/stews. Then I can grab a container from the freezer and toss it in with some broth and dinner is served. - Mary Callahan

Greens like kale, collard greens, Swiss chard and some types of lettuce I keep in a glass of water (after trimming the ends) in the fridge with a loose plastic bag over the leaves—just make sure to change the water everyday! This also works if your greens have wilted; it will perk them right up! - Liz Rowe

Don't put summer squash in the fridge. Rather rub them with olive oil and keep them on a pantry shelf, making sure they are not touching. The oil prevents mold from breeding (they need air to breed and the oil keeps the air out). Check them regularly and remove any soft ones. They will last for a month or two. This also works for harder-skinned winter squash, which will last even longer. - Jane Griffiths

My "fix" for making celery last longer is very simple. I put the bunch of celery in a bread bag as soon as I get it home (leaves and all, no trimming, no washing), remove as much air as possible by smoothing up from the bottom, and twist-tie the bag closed. Store in the fridge as usual. I've had it last for a full month this way, still crisp and tasty! - Lynne Sargent

I purchased produce saver bags and THEY DO WORK and extend the storage life way beyond the packaging they come in (or no packaging at all). The same brand are also available for extending storage life of cheese and sandwich meats. - Shari Hand Sammons

You can pull tomato plants up, wrap them in newspaper cones, tie around root and hang them upside down in the cool basement. I continue to pick tomatoes for a while right from the vines! - Lisa Fagan

We built a larder into our garage-converted-to-dining room. It was an awkward space at the head of the stairs, so we insulated the entire thing, put in vents to the outside for cool air, left the cement floor exposed—and we now have a consistently cool, but never freezing, space to hold greens, onions, root vegetables and squashes, as well as last night's soup in the winter—all year round. - Charlyn Ellis 

I buy locally grown produce whenever possible. It's probably already seven days old when I buy shipped-in produce at the grocery store. I figure it adds a few days of shelf life—on MY shelf! - Pam McGuffey

Many people, including myself, bring home all of their produce and wash it prior to putting it away. This is not a good idea with apples. It causes them to spoil faster. Also, if you put your apples in the refrigerator, remember that they give off ethylene gas which will cause other produce like cabbage and broccoli to spoil faster. Although, if you have produce that is not completely ripe, like peaches, you can put them in a paper bag with apples to help them ripen. - Missy Teel

I totally agree with Pam. I would much rather make more trips by buying less than have most of it go bad because it took so long to get to the grocery store. - Nava Lucero Underberg

If you want to keep your romaine lettuce fresh, after you wash and drain it wrap it in a piece of newpaper before you place it in the frige and change the paper often to keep it as fresh as the day you bought it! - Rebecca Anne Chester

I buy iceberg lettuce at the grocery store in the winter, and we all know it's been a while since it was in the field. I cut the head from top to bottom (splitting the stem end) and immerse each half in a bowl of ice water (with ice cubes floating) and put it in the fridge overnight. Next morning I drain the two halves on a towel and it's crisp and ready to use and it keeps much longer. When storing I try to use a glass bowl with a cover. I hate plastic! - Missie Wiskur

If you don't grow your own, buy freshly picked from local farmers. We have a large veggie/fruit garden of our own and last year our grapes (grown with no chemicals) lasted OVER A MONTH in the fridge with no special storing gizmos! A real testament to "fresh is best"! - Eternal Maternal

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