“Berries are inherently very perishable,” Brecht says. They don’t ripen after you bring them home, either. “There’s nothing left for them to do but die.” (He’s great at parties, guys!) To stave off decay, keep your berries in the crisper drawer, where it’s cold and they’re less likely to lose moisture. That being said, wait to wash your berries until just before you want to eat them, because water can cause them to get moldy. Transferring your berries to an airtight container once you get home helps, too.
Think you’re protecting your corn by leaving it in the husk, as I did? Wrong! Corn loses water through the husk, which draws moisture from the cob, Brecht says. So when you don’t remove the leaves, the kernels can dry out and get dented. Brecht suggests sprinkling the corn with some ice and storing it in a plastic bag, removing the water from the melted ice and replenishing it every so often.
Let your peaches, plums and apricots ripen on the counter. Once they’re ripe, refrigerate them for up to a few days. Keep them in the fruit drawer, as they’re ethylene producers, too. If you have one, a grocery store plastic produce bag is useful here, as it’s designed to let in air but not moisture.
Peppers and summer squash
Because they originate in warmer climates, peppers and summer squash are sensitive to the cold. That’s why it’s best to keep them in the main compartment of the refrigerator, which is a bit warmer than the drawers. To prevent water loss and shriveling (refrigerator air is dry, says Brecht), store peppers and squash in a bag or container. Separate them from ethylene producers.
You guessed it: Salad greens are also sensitive to ethylene! Stash them in the crisper drawer. If you’re buying loose, fresh greens from the farmers market, put them in a bag or storage container. Sprinkle them with water or include a wet paper towel. This will keep the greens crisp and prevent them from wilting due to moisture loss. For bagged salads you buy from the store, it’s best to use them all at once or, at the latest, the next day. “They go downhill really fast,” Brecht says, once they lose the sealed atmosphere of the specially formulated packaging. If you do have leftovers, leave them in the bag they came in. Roll it up tightly and close with a clip.
About this story
Design and development by Lucio Villa. Illustrations by Randi Zafman for The Washington Post.