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January 2013

Now There's a Fresh Idea...
By Mark Mulcahy

Don’t fret! There is help to be had. Here are some tips to use that will get you started.

Organic ApricotsWe’ve all had it happen to us - we get excited when we are in the produce department and we buy lots of produce to make great meals the rest of the week. We bring our bounty home and unpack everything...and then the breakdown begins. Your berries go moldy or shrivel, your tomatoes get soft on the bottom, your lettuce gets wilted, or your broccoli gets rubbery.

Why is this? Well, if you know you are buying your produce from a store that has good movement on their produce and buys it from Melissa’s, then it is probably because you aren’t storing your fruits and vegetables properly. And you are not alone; many people have the same problem. The fact is, many of us were never shown or told how to get the best value and life from the produce we buy.

Some produce should be stored in the fridge and others should be stored on the counter; just knowing this can make a huge difference.

Organic PlumsLet's start with your kitchen counter. Produce such as apricots, avocados, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, and tomatoes all are best outside the fridge. This is because these items are sensitive to chill-injury, dehydration, internal browning, and flavor loss if stored in the refrigerator. However, there is an exception on some of these items such as avocadoes or kiwi’s - they can be stored in the fridge for a short time but ONLY AFTER they are ripe.

A couple of other tips for tomatoes - store them in a dry place between 55 and 65 degrees, out of direct sunlight. If possible, store them with the stems attached. To keep ripe tomatoes from going bad and have them stay fresh a lot longer, store them stem-end down rather than stem-end up.

Other items that are better out of the fridge but not on the counter are Melissa’s organic garlic, onions, potatoes, shallots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. These like to be kept at a cool room temperature (not COLD) and away from the light. Now, for in the fridge, there are some rules about this as well. Some items are sensitive to chill-injury and should be kept in the front of your refrigerator as it tends to be a bit warmer there (around 37 degrees). These items include Melissa’s organic berries, citrus, corn, melons, and peas.

Other fruits such as Melissa’s organic apples, cherries (when in season), and grapes can be stored just about anywhere in the fridge as they are less susceptible to chill-injury. One thing to remember is not to sOrganic Corntore them near leafy vegetables as the ethylene gas they let off can wilt or ripen these too quickly.

Lots of produce items need a bit of humidity to stay at their peak and that is where your crisper drawer comes in. Things like Melissa’s organic artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, leafy greens, leeks and lettuce all do much better here.

There is always more to learn and not everything in proper storage is black and white, but if you use these tips you should be well on your way to fresher, longer lasting Melissa’s organic produce.