It’s not easy.
You want to extend the life of your fresh fruit and vegetables for as long as you can.
You also want to minimise how much you expose your produce to harmful plastics and toxins.
But most food containers are plastic-based!
So, like we said – it’s not easy.
Luckily, there’s now a lot of food-safe container options. But before we explore what might work for your kitchen, let’s take a quick look at the science behind food storage.
The ‘Ripening’ Hormone
Put simply, ethylene is the ‘aging’ hormone that is still given off once your fruit and veggies have been picked. It’s the reason your produce continues to ripen once it leaves the farm. And it has an important role to play in making sure your fruit and vegetables are at their most delicious when they make it to your home.
But just like too much adrenaline when you are trying to relax – too much ripening hormone can be a bad thing. Excess ethylene starts to break down sugars and water which causes decay, mould and browning. It’s part of the reason your vegetables start to go soggy and your fruit begins to spoil.
How Ethylene impacts food storage
Some of your groceries give off more ethylene than others, and some vegetables are very susceptible to its effects.
On the downside – this is where we get the saying ‘one bad apple spoils the whole bunch’.
But we put it to good use too! It’s also the reason we place a ripe banana next to a hard avocado to get it salad-worthy sooner.
So when storing your fruit and vegetables, you can reduce food waste by keeping your ‘ethylene producers’ away from your ‘ethylene absorbers’.
But which is which?
Some of the fruits known for producing ethylene include:
You’ll want to store those fruits well away from your vegetables that are super-sensitive to the effects of ethylene, like:
Clever storage is the solution. You want to make sure your produce is kept: cool; properly hydrated; and well ventilated to minimise spoiling due to ethylene.
So let’s take a look at your safe food-storage options.
Plastic-Free Food Containers
Before deciding on the right food container – have a think about what you’ll be needing it for.
Do you want something to take your food straight from the fridge to the microwave?
Or one that can transport your lunch to work without mess?
Are you looking for a way to store your fruit and veg that reduces spoilage and keeps food fresh for a long time?
Traditionally you have probably used plastic containers to try to achieve all of this.
But now we know a lot more about the dangers of microplastics, BPAs and other chemicals in plastic products. Plus, there’s heat impact from microwaving, dishwashing and placing still-hot cooked meals into plastic containers.
Glass storage containers are plastic-free and perfect for when you want to move leftovers from the fridge to microwave without creating more mess.
Stainless steel, silicone and beeswax products are great plastic-free options for transporting lunches and snacks.
Cotton-produce storage – like Veggie Saver – are a plastic-free way to reduce food waste. The breathable layers allow for ventilation of ethylene and allows fruit and veg to take in moisture as it needs.
Safer food storage choices
Reducing food waste and finding safer options for food storage is a goal for every household.
Clever storage like Veggie Saver produce bags can minimise the impact of ethylene and slow down the rate that your food spoils. While glass products mean those scratched, discoloured and heat damaged plastics have had their day in your kitchen.
It’s time to test-drive some fresher, safer food storage options!