For fruits, their nutritional content is best preserved if you leave them uncut when you put them in the fridge, says Michelle Siow, assistant director of the School of Applied Sciences at Republic Polytechnic. However, because we don’t grow produce locally, by the time food gets to our markets, it has already travelled a fair distance and lost some of its nutrients. “The longer produce is exposed to air and light after it’s been picked, the more nutrients it loses,” says Jennifer Starkey, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. That’s one reason why it’s better to buy produce in the morning, right after it’s been delivered to the market. “The ripening process is the beginning stages of rotting, so it’s all downhill from there,” says food chemist Robert Wolke.
Set The Correct Fridge Temperature
Food lasts longer when you store it properly. Set your fridge temperature to just above freezing, at 1 deg C. That’s cold enough to slow bacteria growth without freezing the food, says Nils Noren, vice-president of culinary and pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute in the US. Also, contrary to popular methods of storing items like eggs at the fridge door, Noren advises storing items with short shelf lives (meat, milk, eggs) at the back, where it’s coldest.
Don’t Place Everything In The Fridge
Not all produce should be kept the same way. For asparagus, trim off the woody ends, stand the spears in some water in a tall container, and cover the top with a plastic bag. Watermelon, once cut, should be eaten, as its flesh turns dry and fibrous quickly. Tomatoes? They shouldn’t even be kept in the fridge, as cold destroys their flavour and texture. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
Buy Them When They Are Already Frozen
Surprisingly, frozen produce can be as healthy as fresh ones. That’s because fruits and vegetables that are frozen can be picked at their peak of ripeness. (Non-frozen produce are picked before they are fully ripe.) Before being frozen, they’re briefly blanched in hot water to destroy bacteria and enzymes that cause discolouration. Once frozen, they are shipped. “This process reduces enzyme activity and prevents further degradation,” says Michelle Siow from Republic Polytechnic. A University of Illinois study in the US found that frozen beans retained twice as much vitamin C as fresh beans purchased at the supermarket.