The Secret to Keeping Your Groceries Fresh

By Carolyn Stine April 2, 2019 

I just got back from the grocery store - how do I properly store all of my goodies?

So here’s the deal. You’ve gone to the grocery store and hit up the farmer’s market. You’ve navigated the labyrinth that is Trader Joe’s on a Sunday and made it out alive. You’ve schlepped your groceries home (in sustainable grocery bags, of course - we loves the Junes bags we featured here), and now said bags are sitting on your kitchen floor while you catch your breath. As you mentally prepare to unpack your goods, your mind is consumed with worrisome questions - will your basil turn brown before you have a chance to chiffonade it atop your zoodles on Thursday? Will your avocado ripen in time for tomorrow’s #basic avo toast breakfast? And do the lemons go in the fridge, or on the counter? How do you keep those groceries of yours fresh and properly stored?

These are all questions we’ve asked ourselves at one time or another (ahem, just last Sunday). So we’ve spoken to the experts and done the research to bring you our definitive guide to how to keep your groceries fresh AF by storing them the right way, every time. We broke down the key areas in your kitchen - the fridge, the freezer, and the counter and pantry space - and are coming in hot with our how-to guide so you know exactly which item to place where as you’re unpacking those grocery bags. Memorize it, hang it on your fridge like a checklist, or keep it bookmarked in your phone - you’re gonna want to hang onto this list for many moons (and many grocery runs) to come.

keep your groceries fresh

What To Keep In The Fridge

  • Ok, let’s talk about herbs. Did you know that the best way to store that fresh basil or parsley is to treat it like you would a bouquet of fresh flowers? Snip the ends and stand the herbs up in a tall glass filled halfway up with water (like a mason jar), then cover it loosely with a plastic bag to keep them the freshest, longest (and check out how to use up leftover herbs at the end of the week here).

 

  • Cheese, also known as our full time lover. Hang onto the original packaging when purchasing cheese from your favorite local shop (hello, Murray’s Cheese!) and use that when you put the cheese back in the fridge after slicing off a hunk. The parchment paper that fresh cheese comes wrapped in allows it to breathe, something that plastic wrap or aluminum foil does not do. Also, skin contact with cheese encourages mold growth, so that handy parchment paper wrapping is a great barrier to use when handling said cheese.

 

  • The vast selection of nuts in our pantry is a bit wild, but it was only recently that we learned that these little beauties last longer in the fridge. Store them in airtight containers to keep them fresher, longer. And also note that raw nuts last even longer than those that are roasted and salted, because of the oils that are added during the roasting process.

 

  • Meat and fish may seem like a no-brainer, but these should always go in the fridge, no exceptions (check out our guide on how to properly store fresh fish!).

 

  • Mushrooms are particularly sensitive to moisture, so toss them in a paper bag and roll that baby up before placing them in the fridge.

 

  • Salad greens are not fun to eat once wilted, so keep them sealed up in either airtight containers or the plastic containers that you purchased them in, and only wash one batch at a time when you’re ready to eat them.

 

  • Berries follow a similar process -  don’t pre-wash them and then store them in the fridge. Only wash them when you’re right about to enjoy them.

 

  • The crisper (that bottom drawer you never quite know what to do with) is your vegetables’ best friend. Veggies like broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and celery should be stored in here until devoured.

 

  • Fruit that is already ripe that you’re not quite ready to eat can be thrown in the fridge for another day, but we wouldn’t recommend doing so for much longer than that. And yes, that applies to your perfectly ripe avocado as well.

 

  • Once opened, condiments such as ketchup, dijon mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and hot sauce should live in your fridge.

 

  • Saving the best for last - raise your hand if you knew that maple syrup should be stored in the fridge?! Indeed, storing it in the fridge helps keep mold growth at bay (we’re here for it).
keep your groceries fresh

What to Keep on the Counter or in the Pantry

  • With the exception of those aforementioned berries, keep your fruit out on the counter to happily live and ripen. Yes, we’re talking about everything from apples to pears to cantaloupe to tomatoes and avocado. Once they ripen, you can throw them in the fridge to extend their shelf life another day.

 

  • Citrus is another item that you want to keep out on the counter, and the room temperature will help to keep those limes juicy for when you want to squeeze them over that fresh guac (or into a margarita, or both!).

 

  • Members of the potato family shall live on the counter to maintain their lovely texture.

 

  • Onions, garlic, and shallots should hang out on the counter with the potatoes.

 

  • Oils, olive oil in particular should always be kept in the pantry. It is vastly important to keep them in dark bottles (decant them into your own if the bottle you purchased them in is clear), and store them away from the heat of the oven and the stove (heat compromises their quality and makes them go rancid sooner).

 

  • Those scones, cookies, and cake you whipped up? That should always live, in an airtight container, on your countertop (or hidden in the pantry if you don’t want to steal a cookie every time you walk through the kitchen).

 

  • Contrary to popular belief, that butter can happily live on the counter (as long as it’s under 70 degrees fahrenheit at your casa).

 

  • Honey and nut butters can happily live in your pantry (but neither last long in our household).

What To Keep In The Freezer

  • Buying fresh ginger for that yellow curry recipe? Buy a big nob, and store it, whole, in your freezer. Then use a microplane to grate it as needed for each recipe. This will save you having to buy it again and again, and the ginger actually grates more easily when frozen.

 

  • Let’s face it, sometimes living alone or with one other person makes eating your way through a whole loaf of bread a bit daunting. That’s why keeping your bread in the freezer is the best possible option for preserving freshness. If it’s a loaf of sandwich bread, throw it in the freezer in its original packaging and defrost a slice or two as needed. If it’s a proper loaf or boule, consider slicing or quartering it before freezing it so that you can grab what you need as hunger pangs hit. We recommend defrosting any bread before toasting it up.

 

  • Meat (not fish) can easily be frozen as soon as you bring it home from the grocery store. We like to freeze individual items like steaks and chicken breasts in their own bags so you’re not stuck with 12 pieces of meat frozen together at once.

 

  • Fresh stock is fantastic to freeze in quart containers and doesn’t even need to be defrosted prior to adding to your Sunday night soup recipe (add link to chicken article once posted).

Tried to freeze an avocado? Left your ketchup in the pantry? Comment below to share your most epic grocery storage fails!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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