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How to store cucumbers

How to store cucumbers
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Many fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, and melons, produce ethylene gas, a ripening agent that speeds up spoilage. Cucumbers are super sensitive to this ethylene gas, so they need their own place or they’ll spoil faster. They’re actually more suited to hanging out on the kitchen bench than in the crisper drawer with off-gassing fruits, according to Five Serves Produce, but if you want cold cucumbers, you can store them for a few days in the fridge (away from fruits).

Check out these foods that you shouldn’t put in the fridge.

How to get herbs to last longer

How to get herbs to last longer
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If you’re trying to cut back on salt or just add more flavour to your food, fresh herbs fit the bill, but don’t just toss them in the fridge. “Store fresh herbs just as you would fresh cut flowers,” says supermarket manager, Dana Tomlin. First, make sure the leaves are completely dry. Next, snip off the ends and place the herbs, stem down in a cup or mason jar with water. Most herbs do well when stored this way in the fridge. Basil, however, likes to hang out at room temperature. You’ll still want to place it in a jar with water though. When the water gets yucky, drain and add fresh water. Most herbs stored this way are good for up to two weeks.

Don’t store squash and pumpkins with apples and pears

Don’t store squash and pumpkins with apples and pears
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Squash and pumpkins are well known for having a long shelf life but apples, another autumn favourite (along with pears and other ripening fruit) shouldn’t be stored with them. Why? It will cause the squash to yellow and go bad.  Squash and pumpkins keep well at temps between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius, which is cooler than room temperature but not as chilly as the fridge. Larger pumpkins and larger squash will last up to six months, but keep an eye on the smaller ones, as they usually last about three months.

Find out which fruits and vegetables you shouldn’t peel – and which you should.

Get your root veggies to last longer by bagging them

Get your root veggies to last longer by bagging them
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Root vegetables such as carrots, yams, kohlrabi, beetroots, and onions are some of the most nutrient-dense veggies we can eat since they absorb nutrients from the soil. To retain those good nutrients, store root vegetables in a cool, dark, and humid place. A root cellar is ideal, but most of us don’t have one. The next best option is to place the veggies in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper. If you just toss them in the fridge – even in the crisper, they’ll soften and rot a lot quicker.

A vinegar rinse makes your berries last longer

A vinegar rinse makes your berries last longer
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Berries are delightfully sweet and easy to eat. The problem is, they can get mouldy quickly if not stored properly. The culprit is tiny mould spores that want to make the little nooks and crannies of the berry skin their home. Tomlin says the first rule is to avoid washing them until you’re ready to eat them because moisture equals mould.

What if you just brought home a Costco-size carton of berries and won’t be able to eat them all right away? You can extend their life a couple of days by taking a few minutes to give the berries a bath in a solution of one cup vinegar to three cups water. Let them soak briefly; then gently rinse in a colander. The vinegar will hinder the mould growth.

Since berries don’t do well sitting wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly – lay them out on a paper towel and gently blot (or put a few paper towels in your salad spinner and dry them that way. Store the berries loosely in a container that is ventilated, or leave the lid partially opened.

Store your apples away from oranges

Store your apples away from oranges

Sometimes, we can’t just all get along. That’s the case with apples and oranges – trusted fruit bowl staples in still life paintings but frenemies in fridge life. Fruits give off a gas called ethylene, the ripening agent that will lead to faster spoilage of the produce around it, says Matthew Robinson, creator of The Culinary Exchange. Store apples in the fridge if you want to extend their shelf life. Oranges stored in the fridge (away from apples) should be placed in a mesh bag so that air can circulate around them. Plastic bags will only make oranges mouldy.

Can you eat as much fruit as you like? Find out here.

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Separate your bananas to get them to last longer

Separate your bananas to get them to last longer
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Banana hooks may show off bananas in their best light but the problem is, they will all ripen the same time, which means you’re either eating bananas for two days straight or tossing the rotting ones. Here’s a solution: Break up the bunch. Keep some in the fruit bowl on the bench to ripen and store others bananas in the fridge to delay the ripening process. If you missed your chance and you’ve got a glut of spotted bananas, use them in banana bread or toss them in the freezer to make banana ‘ice cream.’

Read on for some clever uses for bananas you probably never knew.

Don’t store onions with potatoes

Don’t store onions with potatoes
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Fried potatoes and onions are a delish combo but don’t store them together before you cook them, as the onions will cause the potatoes to go bad. “It’s best to store items like potatoes and squash in an open-air wicker basket in a cool, dark place to preserve freshness,” says Tomlin. “You can store them in a paper bag, but just make sure they’re in a container where moisture or condensation can’t build up, which would make them soften and go bad faster.” A friendly neighbour for onions is garlic. They can be stored near each other without ripening or spoiling. Just store them in a well-ventilated space, and keep the paper-like skin of the garlic intact until use.

Ripen avocados next to bananas

Ripen avocados next to bananas
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Since avocados can be pricey, it’s important to store them correctly. “If your avocados are under-ripe, store them next to bananas. The gasses released from the bananas promote ripening,” says Tomlin. “If you need to extend the life of an avocado, store it in the refrigerator. It will slow the ripening process significantly.” For times you get a hankerin’ for a little smashed avocado on toast but can’t eat the whole thing, Tomlin suggests storing the cut avocado with the seed intact in an airtight container along with a sliver of an onion.

Find out how to ripen avocados in just 2 minutes.

Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge

Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge
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A freshly picked garden tomato is undeniably delicious, but time in the fridge can make it mushy and bland-tasting. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. Instead, store at room temperature to preserve their flavour.

Read on for the secrets of people who always have an organised fridge.

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Dear readers,
Please be advised that our shipment of the June issue of Reader’s Digest Asia in Hong Kong has been delayed by approximately seven days. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Kind regards, Reader’s Digest Editors