Consumer Reports: Longer life for produce

We know fruits and vegetables are good for us. But more than half of the produce we buy ends up in the garbage. What’s the best way to keep food fresh and stop the waste?

Consumer Reports tested seven containers, including the Oxo Good Grips Greensaver and the Rubbermaid Fresh Works, both $20. They were filled with raspberries, strawberries, baby leafy greens, and lettuce. Testers also stored samples in their original clamshell containers. They were left in a refrigerator and checked regularly.

The greens in the Oxo Good Grips held up well. And the strawberries in the Rubbermaid looked better than the others. But is it worth buying special containers? Overall, Consumer Reports found that none of the containers kept produce much fresher than the original clamshells

However, Consumer Reports says the refrigerator itself can make a difference. Produce that’s stored in a dual-evaporative refrigerator—one that chills the freezer and refrigerator sections separately—lasts longer. But any refrigerator can do a better job if you store foods in the right place.

The best move is to store fruits and vegetables in low- and high-humidity bins in the refrigerator when you bring them home. For instance, broccoli and leafy greens should go in a high-humidity drawer. The low-humidity drawer is best for most fruits.

Some produce should never go into the refrigerator. Tomatoes do best stem side down on the counter. Keep potatoes and onions separate, because gases from the onions will cause the potatoes to sprout. Bread will last longer if you keep it in the freezer, not the refrigerator. Take out what you need as you go along. It just takes a few minutes to thaw.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.

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