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Summer is the time when the kitchen is filled with different types of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, these foods can often only be enjoyed for a relatively short time - just a day or two. The fruits and vegetables that are not properly stored spoil. Vilma Juodkazienė, food expert at retail chain IKI, says that in order to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer, it would be best to follow a few simple rules as well as to know what foods can be stored together and which should be separated.
Lithuanians’ favourite fruit and vegies and how to keep them fresh
© Shutterstock

The taste changes at the wrong temperature

A poll conducted by retail chain IKI revealed that summer and tomatoes go hand in hand for Lithuanians. 24% of the respondents saw tomatoes as the main vegetable of the warm season. In the second place, Lithuanians named cucumbers (22%), in the third-place fresh potatoes (18%), and the fourth place is shared by different kinds of salads and radishes (13%).

According to the results of the survey, strawberries are the most popular with 59% of Lithuanians associating this berry with summer. They were followed by wild strawberries (10%), cherries (9%), raspberries (8%) and wild cherries (8%). According to a food expert, it is advisable to eat more fresh vegetables, fruits and berries every summer, but you should also know how to keep them tasting good for as long as possible.

V. Juodkazienė says that people often put vegetables they have just gotten at the store in the refrigerator, although this solution is not always the best.

"Vegetables stored at an unhealthy temperature will not only spoil faster, they will also lose taste. Take for example chilis which are stored in the refrigerator, they quickly lose their crispness. For some vegetables, like potatoes, it can even be harmful to keep them in a refrigerator. The starch contained in the potatoes turns into sugar when stored at an unnatural temperature. This then changes the taste and nutritional properties of the vegetables," says the food expert.

According to specialist Alginte Serapinaitė, carrots and onions should also be kept outside the refrigerator. "It is advisable to keep vegetables like this in the cellar, but in the absence of such a storage space, you can choose a dark cabinet. At the same time, when storing cabbage, radish, celery, or zucchini it is best to store them in the refrigerator, so they keep fresh longer."

The most important thing is to calculate the demand for products and keep in mind the selection

Both fruits and vegetables keep fresh for a while. When bringing them home from the store, do not attempt to wash them immediately. According to V. Juodkazienė, moisture offers bacteria a place to multiply, therefore, it is advised to only wash those fruits or vegetables that you are about to use.

If fresh products are not eaten soon after they were bought, some of them can easily be frozen and saved for later use. Frozen products, according to V. Juodkazienė, retain 5 to 80% of the vitamins and minerals. This is a great way to save your fruits and vegetables from spoiling.

In order to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh, SFVS expert A. Serapinaitė, recommends to constantly check them. "When pieces of fruit or vegetables are spoiling they start to shorten the shelf life of other products. It is therefore wise to throw out the product as soon as the rotting process sets in. The main rule you should follow if you want the fruit from the store to remain fresh longer, is to keep the unripe fruit separate from the ripe fruit," says A. Serapinaitė.

According to SFVS specialist's fruits emit ethylene gas. This gas effects adjacent fruits, and therefore the overripe fruits contaminate the unripe. However, states the food expert, there are cases where ethylene gas can bring benefits.

"Some fruits emit higher amounts of ethylene gas, which can be used to accelerate the process of ripening other fruits. For example, if you want to be able to eat your avocados sooner, you could put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana and leave the bag at room temperature. After a few days the avocados will be ripened. "Also, if you buy more bananas than you would eat in one day it is a good idea to wrap the stem of the bananas in food wrap. The releases ethylene gas and using this method the ripening process is slowed down," advises V. Juodkazienė.

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