With its long days, plentiful sun and delicious fare, summer is without a doubt our favorite time of year. If you’re like us here at Inhabitat, you’re constantly drawn to your local fruit stand to scope out the season’s ripest pickings. If you find that you scoop up more than you can munch on within just a few days, here are some handy tips to keep your favorite summer fruits and vegetables fresher for longer.
Broccoli, lettuce and celery
Suffering from limp celery, soft broccoli or less than sprightly salads? Keep these greens their crispest by wrapping them in tin foil before storing them in the fridge. Celery will stay crisp for four weeks or more, lettuce heads up to six weeks and broccoli up to seven weeks!
Nothing says summer more like a wedge of watermelon or a slice of cantaloupe. If you’ve got yourself a melon that’s ready to eat (it will smell sweet and be soft at the non-stem) but you aren’t ready to cut it up yet, store it in the fridge. Melons will keep for about 10 days in the cold temperature. Just keep in mind that fruit is most flavorful at room temperature — take your melon out of the fridge, place it on the counter and allow it to warm for about 30 minutes before serving.
Slice ’em up for a sandwich, mash some into guacamole or save the seed to grow an avocado tree — there seems to be no limits as to what you can do with this magical fruit. In warm weather, avocados will ripen fast, but don’t store avocados in the refrigerator unless they are cut. To keep them at their most palatable state, spritz avocado halves with a bit of lemon or lime juice, or another acidic agent, and place in an airtight container before storing them in the fridge.
What’s a summer barbecue without some grilled corn? When storing corn, keep the husks on but cut away the shank (this part of the grain is a magnet for worms). Put your corn in a plastic or reusable silicone bag and place it in your refrigerator’s crisper. The corn will remain at its freshest for two days. Although the corn will start to dry out after day two, it will still remain edible.
Peaches and nectarines
Peaches and nectarines should be bought firm, but stored at room temperature once you’ve brought them home. Don’t put them in the fridge before they’ve ripened, as chilling them before that will result in fruit that is mealy and flavorless. However, once you’ve put them in the fridge, eat them within a few days or they’ll start to lose their flavor.
Apples are a year-round delight, but some the most flavorful kinds (such as Gala, Ginger Gold and Pink Lady) make their appearance during the summer. During the warmer months, apples should be stored in the fridge, while in the fall, they can be stored on the counter. When storing apples in the fridge, drape a damp paper towel over the container of apples (but do not put them in a drawer or airtight container). Both the cold temperature and the moisture will help them stay their freshest for up to several weeks. Just remember: one rotten apple can spoil the bunch — compost any that are looking a little questionable.
When buying carrots, look for those that are of the brightest hue and without cracks. If you’re buying them from your local farmers market, cut off the greens (which you can use to make a delicious pesto!) and place them in your crisper drawer. Carrots will keep for up to two weeks.
Keeping cherries cold is key to keeping them fresh. Cherries should be refrigerated after you’ve brought the home. But don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them — excess moisture will hasten molding where the stem meets the fruit.
There’s nothing quite as tasty as a ripe tomato at the height of summertime, but if you store them wrong, they will have an unpleasant, mealy texture. If you are storing tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe yet, leave them on the counter. If your tomatoes are fully ripe, you can place them in a cool part of your home or even the refrigerator.
Fresh berries are a summer staple, but they can spoil quickly. We’ve found giving berries a vinegar bath really helps prolong their life. Mix 1 part vinegar with about 5 parts water in a container large enough for your berries, then stir them around and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Strain the berries, then rinse again with water to remove any remaining vinegar flavor. Allow them to dry on a cloth napkin, then store them in the fridge for up to a week. You can also preserve berries for even longer by keeping some in the freezer.