I have had so many problems keeping produce fresh in my home refrigerator, I turned to my chef for tips on how he keeps our produce at Cuisine Unlimited so fresh. Here is what he advised:
1. Some fruits and vegetables produce a gas called ethylene. This can prematurely ripen some fruits and vegetables, so they should be stored away from each other. For example, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, kiwis and mangos, as well as tomatoes, should be stored away from apples, broccoli, carrots and leafy greens. This explains why he has two separate areas in our cooler for different fruits and vegetables.
2. Our kitchen always coats our guacamole with cooking spray and covers it with a tight layer of plastic wrap. The oil in the cooking spray becomes an air barrier to keep the avocado mixture from turning brown.
3. I wondered why our chef keeps brown bags in the cooler. Now, I know it is for storing mushrooms.
4. Unless using right away, extra celery is wrapped in aluminum foil and refrigerated.
5. We go through dry onions rather quickly, but he did share a tip from his grandmother regarding dry onions. Using clean panty hose, place a dry onion into the hose and tie a knot. Continue with the balance of the onions. He said it would keep onions fresh for as long as eight months.
6. Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting.
7. Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap to prolong freshness and do not refrigerate.
8. I think the best tip our chef shared with me is about how to purchase. He encouraged me to shop for fruits and vegetables two to three times a week rather than stocking for an entire week. He said he maintains an inventory of longtime products such as onions, carrots, squash and apples and orders fruits and vegetables with a medium shelf life early in the week. And he buys items with a very short shelf life, such as peppers, cauliflower, lemons, oranges and highly perishable items like asparagus, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms and berries only the day before they’re needed.
Maxine Turner is the president of Cuisine Unlimited.