Monday, September 2, 2013

How to keep fruit fresh

This year has been very damp and the fruit is throwing temper tantrums. Here are some tips to help lengthen the shelf life of your fruit.

Peaches will soften in 1-2 days on the counter. To hasten the process, put them in a brown paper bag with a banana or an apple; watch carefully because they can go from ripe to over ripe very quickly. Use within a day or refrigerate. Use within 4-5 days from the refrigerator. Peaches will continue to slowly soften in the refrigerator and they will gradually dehydrate, so you do not want to leave them in the fridge too long. You are better off putting your peaches in the fridge, and then putting them on the counter to ripen rather than putting ripe peaches in the fridge. Do not wash your peaches and then store them - the water encourages rotting. 
As we come to the end of the peach season, it is especially important to follow the above guidelines. End-of-season peaches will not get as soft as mid-season peaches. If you are waiting for soft peaches, stop; they won't happen - you'll get mealy peaches instead. Leave the peaches out for 1-2 days and then eat. 

Honeydew and cantaloupe should be kept refrigerated after they reach the desired ripe stage, no more than 1 day sitting out. Cantaloupe will have a yellow/orangish under-color to show when they are ripe (smelling or pushing the end are not accurate methods). Honeydew will lose their fuzzy feeling and become waxy feeling. You can cut up the melon and store the pieces in the refrigerator for a week. The whole melon will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Whole watermelon will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Cut watermelon pieces will keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. Whole watermelon will keep unrefrigerated for 1 day. 

Because of the excessive rain this year, melons will not keep the way they have in prior years. Also remember that melons soak up a lot of water, so since this season has been rainy, they will have more water, aka, the flavor will not be as intense and the flesh will not be as firm as drier seasons. 

Apples keep best at 33 degrees believe it or not. Since most people don't have cold storage options that stay at 33 degrees, the fridge is your best bet. Apples will keep in the fridge for about 4 weeks, depending on the time of year and the variety (the harder the apple and the less storage time before reaching you, the longer the apples will keep). 

When left at room temperature, apples will continue to ripen; they are constantly releasing carbon dioxide and ethylene gas and will wither in 2-4 days. Think of how bananas go from green to yellow to brown - that is the banana continuing to ripen; apples are doing the same thing, even though we can't see it. If you like your apples at room temperature, fill your fruit basket the night before with what will be consumed the following day. 

The weather has not been kind to the apples this year. Their keeping quality is going to already be compromised by the time they reach you, simply due to the weather. So be nice and keep them refrigerated :)

Basically, when in doubt, refrigerate! 

Highland Orchards Farm Market, is a small, family-owned and operated farm in northern Delaware, established 1832. We grow fruits and vegetables without synthetic chemicals or pesticides. We sell our produce through our farm market located on the farm, through our CSA program, and at two farmers’ markets in Philadelphia. Real food, a real farm, for people who really like to eat!