In response to suggestions that people help reduce the workload on essential workers while reducing the possibility of exposure to the virus of the hour by only shopping every two weeks instead of weekly or several times a week, I have heard many people claim that this is impossible because fresh food does not last two weeks.
Now I’m not here to lecture you on the very true fact that frozen food is just as good ((https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/fresh-frozen-or-canned-what-produce-is-best)) and sometimes better than fresh and canned tomatoes at least are have more available lycopene than fresh (and who wants fresh tomatoes in April anyway, gross!) I am here to argue that you can keep much of your fresh produce for two weeks if you really want to. So, here is my list of fresh food that lasts two weeks and how to store them properly to ensure that happens.
- Winter Squash- I have a whole bunch of squash I picked last fall that is still good. I just ate my last butternut (so sad) and it was tasty and sweet. I keep them in my kitchen in a milkcrate. No special treatment.
- Apples. Apples can last several months stored properly. Proper storage for several months does take a bit of planning, but unbruised apples will last on your countertop for two weeks or more without any special treatment. Put them in the fridge, and they will last a month or more, but store them in a sealed container because the gasses they give off may cause your other produce to spoil more quickly.
- Potatoes. Again, you can store potatoes for months with a little planning, but you can certainly keep them in your cupboard for two weeks without any special fuss. Just put them in a dark, dry place that doesn’t get too hot or cold. Baby potatoes go bad faster than the big ones.
- Onions can also last for months with proper treatment. To get them to last two weeks, just put them in a dark, dry place and don’t expose them to cold of they might decide its spring when it gets warm again. I find green onions or scallions also last quite nicely if I wash, thoroughly dry and chip them up right away and store them in a canning jar in the fridge.
- Citrus, including lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, well easily last more than two weeks in the fridge. The thicker the skin, the longer they’ll last on your counter. All of them will last at least a week without refrigeration.
- Grapes will last two weeks in the fridge if you don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them.
- Pomegranates are only available for a short time, alas, but they will last up to three weeks in your fridge.
- Peppers will easily last two weeks in the fridge. I like to slice and dice them right away when I get home and toss them in the freezer in recipe-sized packages to save time when I’m throwing a meal together.
- Bananas. Ripe bananas don’t last very long, but green bananas can take a week or more to ripen. So buy some ripe ones and some green ones and boom, you have two weeks worth of bananas. If they get overripe, put them in the freezer for banana bread.
- Avocadoes. Like bananas, avocadoes don’t last long once they are ripe, but buy some hard green ones and they can take a week to ripen on your counter so you have avocadoes for next week. If you are worried, go ahead and mash them and put them in a baggie in the freezer. Yep, they freeze fine.
- Pears. Like both bananas and avocados, unripe pears can take several days to a week to ripen on your counter. Once ripe, they’ll last another week in the fridge.
- Root Vegetables like carrots, turnips, parsnips and beets will easily last two weeks in the fridge. Trim their greens and eat them (not the parsnips!) right away and keep the roots wrapped up in the fridge.
- Brussels sprouts will last well into their second week if you store them wrapped in a damp towel in the fridge. If you can get them still attached to the stalk, they will last longer.
Make your delicate produce last as long as possible
- Lettuce and other delicate leafy greens will only last a few days in the fridge, but you can extend their life to up to a week if you separate, wash and thoroughly dry the leaves and store them layered in towels in the fridge.
- Herbs like parsley will last best if you trim them of any wilted leaves and make sure they are very dry before you store them in the fridge.
- Peaches. Alas, peaches have a tiny window between ripe and gross. But if you get some ripe and some hard as rocks, you’ll have a few more days of peaches.
And remember to practice good refrigerator hygiene! Clean out your fridge at least once a week so nothing gets forgotten. Put your produce in your belly!