26 ways you're storing food wrong that are cutting down its shelf life

Chris Hondros/GettyChances are you’re storing some foods wrong.

Rummaging through your fridge to find the “fresh” produce you bought earlier that week has gone bad can be a huge bummer.

Thankfully, you can hack your way to fresher, longer-lasting groceries. Keep reading for a few of the best ways to keep your produce fresh longer.

Treat herbs like flowers.

[email protected]/FlickrPlant herbs in water.

Simply Recipes suggests cutting off the stems of the herbs and making sure the leaves are dry before dropping them in a small cup of water. Then, place a loose plastic bag over the top of the herbs for optimal freshness preservation.

Acid can help preserve fruit slices.

Boontoom Sae-Kor/ShutterstockA little lemon juice can go a long way.

From banana slices to wedges of apples, acids like lemon and lime can help preserve the freshness of these fruits for a few hours. The ascorbic acid in these citrus fruits helps slow the browning process that naturally occurs, thus allowing you to enjoy a fresh apple slice any time of the day, according to Learning Center.

Keep cut avocados fresh with a little lemon juice.

William Wei, Business InsiderIf you’ve already cut open your avocado, add lemon juice to keep it fresh.

Lemon juice works to keep sliced avocados fresh, according to Food52. Whether you’re keeping half an avocado for later, or want to enjoy some pre-sliced avocados on a salad you’re having for lunch, swipe a little lemon juice on it to prevent premature browning.

Don’t wash your produce before storing it.

PAKULA PIOTR/ShutterstockIt’s OK to store dirty produce.

Although you should wash produce before eating it, this cleanly habit shouldn’t occur until you’re ready to use it. That’s right, storing freshly washed produce in the fridge can actually reduce its lifespan significantly, according to Real Simple.

Store fruits and veggies separately.

Sean Gallup/ Getty ImagesSome fruits and veggies shouldn’t be stored together.

Although fruits and vegetables are all in the plant family, they produce different gases which can cause non-similar produce to go bad quicker than normal. In order to avoid this, Real Simple suggests storing “like with like,” so pairing pears with pears and lettuce with lettuce.

This might take up a bit more room in your fridge than you’d like, but the separation storage process is worth having fresher produce in a week’s time.

Keeping bananas from browning isn’t rocket science.

Sandra Mu/Getty ImagesBananas can go brown quickly but they don’t have to.

The stems of bananas release ethylene gas, which is a naturally occurring part of the banana-ripening process. So, in order to prevent your bananas from turning brown almost overnight, wrap the stems in plastic wrap and enjoy fresh bananas all week long, suggests Instructables.

Celery belongs in a foil wrap.

Flickr/Mike LichtCrisp celery seven days later has never been easier.

Just A Little Nutty found a decades-old secret: wrapping celery in tin foil before putting it in the fridge. That’s right, no pre-cutting or washing necessary, just tightly wrap your freshly bought celery in tin foil and store it in the fridge.

Store lettuce with paper towels.

Pauline Mak / FlickrWrap your lettuce before putting it in the fridge.

Reduce unnecessary moisture in your lettuce by storing the leafy greens with a paper towel in an airtight bag. This method of food storage will help keep your lettuce from rotting or drying out before you’re able to enjoy it.

Tomatoes are finicky.

Jessica Spengler/FlickrHow you store tomatoes depends on how ripe they are.

According to PopSugar, there are few different ways to store tomatoes depending on their freshness. Unripened tomatoes belong in a paper bag with the stem facing down, whereas ripe tomatoes should be stored at room temperature away from sunlight.

You can put an overripe tomato in the fridge to prevent it from ripening more, but you should let it sit out a few minutes before cooking with it to restore its flavour. Reportedly, storing tomatoes in the fridge is actually the worst way to keep them fresh.

Make your berries last longer.

Flickr / THORBerries can last longer than you think.

According to Momables, the secret to making your fresh berries last longer is white vinegar. Rinsing them in a solution that is 1 cup of white vinegar and 8 cups of water will help kill any gross bacterias on your berries.

Afterward, drain and rinse the fruit and store them in an aerated container lined with paper towels. Be forewarned: This technique is not suitable for raspberries, but blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all fair game.

Don’t throw citrus in the fridge.

Stacy Spensley / FlickrKeep lemons out of the fridge.

One of the most common faux pas when it comes to storing citrus fruits is tossing them in the fridge to keep them fresh. In fact, the opposite is true. Citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons should be kept on the counter until ready to be eaten as the cold air dries them out.

Follow this rule with bananas and melons as well for optimal fruit enjoyment.

Don’t wrap your cheese in tin foil.

ShutterstockOpt for wax paper or plastic wrap.

Tin foil isn’t an appropriate storage space for cheese of any kind. According to Real Simple, cheese should be stored in either a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, depending on the type of fromage you have on hand. Follow their useful guide and say goodbye to moldy cheese forever (hopefully).

Dairy belongs on the top shelf.

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider (modified by Tanya Lewis)Milk does not belong in the shelf.

While your milk and creamer have probably found homes in the door of your fridge, these and other dairy products should be stored on the top shelf in your fridge, according to LifeHacker. Here, the temperature is most stable, which means all your milk, butter, and yogurt will stay fresher longer.

Apples and potatoes are friends.

ShutterstockIt’s an unlikely friendship.

As strange as it may sound, LifeHacker suggested storing an apple with your potatoes can help keep them fresh longer. Of course, when storing potatoes, it’s important to make sure they’re kept in a cool, dry place (i.e. not your fridge.)

Keep your meat in the freezer.

flickr: stevendepoloMeat can be stored in the freezer for a long time.

If you have no intention of eating your store-bought meat within a few days of purchase, you can keep the products fresh by storing them in your freezer. Freshness can vary month to month depending on what meat you have frozen, but the USDA recommends storing uncooked parts of poultry for up to nine months and meats like steak for up to a year.

Don’t store your coffee in the freezer.

You may have heard that ground coffee is best stored in the freezer, but according to HuffPost, keeping your coffee in the fridge or freezer can actually create too much moisture, causing your beans and grounds to go bad quicker. Instead, coffee should be stored in an airtight container in your pantry to keep it as fresh as possible.

Apples should be stored in the crisper.

Paula Bronstein/GettyApples belong in the fridge’s bottom drawer.

Apples might be the perfect autumnal countertop decoration, but this produce belongs in your fridge’s bottom drawer, according to Time. This area is typically the coldest, helping preserve apples’ freshness much longer than if they were sitting in a fruit bowl in your kitchen.

Eggs belong on the shelf.

thatadon phusitphiyanan/ShutterstockEggs need consistent temperatures.

Your fridge door isn’t doing you any favours when it comes to keeping your eggs fresh. Although it’s tempting to put the perfect-sized carton in this area, eggs should be stored in the back of your fridge on a shelf, where the temperature is most consistent, according to eggs.ca.

The pantry was made for onions.

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesOnions won’t last long in the fridge.

Your onions (and garlic and shallots) belong in the pantry, not the fridge. Keeping these three veggies in the pantry will significantly extend their shelf life and prevent them from getting moldy overnight.

Wilting kale is no fun at all.

stacey_newman / iStockIt’s no surprise that kale, like other leafy greens, go bad pretty quickly.

Help avoid kale’s untimely demise by following Epicurious’s advice and wrapping fresh stalks or chopped kale in a paper towel and sealing it in a Ziploc bag – just make sure they aren’t wet when you refrigerate them.

Ginger is easy to keep fresh.

Tony Hisgett/FlickrGinger can last a long time if you know how to store it.

From storing it in vodka to freezing it, there are many ways to keep ginger fresh. But, according to Kitchn, the ultimate way to keep ginger fresh is to put it in a plastic bag, making sure all the air is pushed out, and storing it in the bottom drawer of your fridge.

Keep unripe avocados out of the fridge.

Flickr/shaketheskyAvocados can be tricky to store.

Although ripened avocados are more than welcome to chill in the fridge, the unripened version of these fruits belong on your countertop, according to Still Tasty. Storing these fruits at room temperature until they’re ripe is the best way to keep them fresher longer.

Don’t put loaves of bread in the fridge.

Caroline Cakebread/Business InsiderBread doesn’t need to have a short shelf life.

According to Epicurious, putting your bread in the fridge makes it go bad faster than if it were stored on the countertop. The best way to keep bread fresh is to keep it at room temperature or invest in a good bread box to keep your bread perfectly fluffy.

Of course, you can always freeze your bread to keep it fresh for up to three months if you don’t plan on eating it all at once.

Don’t cut your produce until you’re ready to eat it.

Wollertz/ShutterstockIt’s best to wait to chop your veggies.

Cutting your fruits and veggies before storing it isn’t recommended, but if you must cut your produce before you plan on eating it, store them in covered glass storage with paper towels to keep them fresh and moisture free, suggested PopSugar.

Keep pineapples out of the fridge.

HisWondrousWorks/iStockWhole pineapples don’t belong in the fridge.

Sliced and diced pineapples are perfectly fine chilling in the fridge, but whole, unripened pineapples should find a home on your countertop, according to Epicurious. Keeping uncut pineapples at room temperature is ideal, but it’s best to buy this produce the day you want to chop it up.

Keep mushrooms in their package.

PixabayThey will be guaranteed fresh.

Your store-bought mushrooms are best kept in the package they came in, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Fresh mushrooms should be kept in a paper bag in the back of your fridge. To keep mushrooms extra fresh, clean them, wrap them loosely in damp paper towels, drop the bundle in a bowl and keep them in the your fridge for up to three days, according to Better Homes and Gardens.

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