We are all soooooo excited to see farmer’s markets, gardens, and grocery stores bursting with stunning seasonal fruits. Having a kitchen stocked with lots of fresh fruits is one of those things that I really love. However, I don’t love when all that beautiful (and expensive) fruit starts rotting and molding before I can get around to eating it. Could I stock up every other day to ensure I only have the freshest of produce? Sure, but as a working mom, that’s pretty impractical (and totally not going to happen). So, how do I keep those blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and all the other lovely fruits of the season fresh all week long? The answer is so simple and probably something you have hiding in your pantry this very moment. The answer, my friends, is vinegar. Well that…and a working refrigerator.
Fruit molds and rots so quickly because something other than you is also dying to eat it: bacteria and mold spores! And unlike you, they are constantly working away on your fruit and they also brought their friends to the feast. The mold spores and bacteria are already there hanging out your fruit when you bring it home, so the trick to keeping your produce as fresh as possible for as long as possible is to kill those hungry fruit hijackers (ok, for the sake of accuracy, you’re not killing them, but inhibiting their growth).
1. Fill a large bowl (or your kitchen sink if you have a lot of fruit to wash) with a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. So, for example, you are going to use 3 cups of water, you will stir in 1 cup of vinegar.
2. Throw the fruit into the water/vinegar solution and let it hang out for about 20 minutes. Make sure to push the fruit down at first so that it’s skin gets a good coating of the solution and can get to work killing the spores and bacteria. The fruit will naturally float back to the top, but not to worry. Just give it an occasional stir.
3. Once the fruit is done its soak, remove it from the water/vinegar solution and give it a good rinse to remove the vinegar.
4. Spread your fruit out on some clean dish towels or on a few layers of paper towels and let it air dry before putting them away in the fridge to await their day on your plate. If you don’t have time to let them air dry, gently pat them dry with another towel or send the small fruits with stronger skins (strawberries, cherries, blueberries) for a ride in your salad spinner (careful not to spin too fast, or else you might end up with mashed fruit) .
5. Seal the fruit up in an air tight container and store it in your fridge. If you are still nervous that you didn’t get all the water off of the fruit, you can put a paper towel at the bottom of the container to soak up extra moisture while your fruit chills.
Between the pH of the vinegar and the chilled temperatures of your fridge, those pesky little spores and bacteria won’t live long enough to eat your fruit before you do, saving you time, money, and the heartache of having to pitch moldy fruit.
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