The Easiest Way to Make Your Summer Produce Last Longer
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The Easiest Way to Make Your Summer Produce Last Longer

Jun 23, 2023

No more throwing away moldy fruits and veggies!

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It is the season of abundant seasonal produce, when stores and markets are bursting with picture-perfect local vegetables and fruits. It is also the season of warm and humid late-summer weather, when all of that delicious produce goes moldy quickly if you neglect it on the kitchen counter for too long. And few things are more frustrating than a batch of produce gone bad prematurely!

Mold flourishes between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and wherever there is dampness or humidity. Mold growth slows when the temperature is cooler and the air is drier, which is why the refrigerator is a good place to store certain items during the sweltering summer months. Mold is attracted to foods like fruit, which provide nutrients and moisture—both crucial ingredients for its growth.

Fortunately, there is a savvy delay tactic for preventing mold growth on produce. If you wash your fruits and vegetables in a vinegar solution as soon as you bring them home from the store, and let them dry thoroughly before storing, you can inhibit mold growth and prolong storage life.

Why is this? Vinegar contains acetic acid. It has a pH level between 2 and 3, which makes it strongly acidic. That acidity wards off bacteria and deters fungal growth on produce; it can kill certain household molds as well, though not all.

How do you apply it to produce? Create a vinegar solution by mixing one part white vinegar and three parts water in a bowl, and submerge your produce for 10 minutes. Swish the liquid around occasionally to coat the produce thoroughly. Drain and set items on a clean tea towel to dry completely before storing. If there is any remaining moisture on the surface, this could encourage mold growth. You should rinse items again right before use.

Another option is to make a vinegar spray solution with one part white vinegar and one part water. Put it in a spray bottle, place the produce in a colander, and spray thoroughly with the solution, turning to coat every side. Let it sit for up to 15 minutes, then dry completely before putting items away.

Other mold prevention tips include storing in breathable containers or packaging, as this allows for airflow. Also, try to eat food promptly after purchasing; it tastes best when it is fresh, after all. Do smaller shops more frequently when the weather is hot and humid so that you are not storing large quantities of produce. Clean your refrigerator quarterly to deter mold growth inside. If you see mold growth starting on a piece of food, cut it off and discard it.