Farm to Table: Getting Fresh

It’s a mystery: why does one box of salad greens last for two weeks, and another collapse in 48 hours? We asked Derek Albano of the Whole Foods Market produce department for some tricks of the trade to keep produce fresher, longer.

Leafy greens. These delicates should be first in line for the crisper drawer, the coolest part of the refrigerator and also the most protected (cold air stays inside when the fridge door is opened). Make sure they have elbow room, and, if you’re storing them in a plastic bag, toss in a paper towel to absorb and regulate excess moisture.



Tomatoes. Keep these guys where you can see them, on the counter and not in the fridge. Fresh tomatoes that get the cold treatment will lose much of their flavor—and to add insult to injury, when you return them to room temperature, their texture will change from lush to mush.



Strawberries. Not just strawberries, either—a ripe berry of any description is one of nature’s most fleeting treats. You can get time on your side, though: find the best, freshest berries you can. Remove any that look even vaguely suspicious. Then refrain from washing them—which helps keep them dry—until immediately before eating.



Onions. Follow one rule and reap the rewards of these hardy bulbs: give them some air. Hang onions in a basket or net bag (sometimes they come in one), which promotes air circulation and helps keep them visible.


Segregate ethylene-producing fruits. Everybody knows that bananas should keep to themselves, but apples, avocadoes, passion fruit and pears also produce ethylene, a gas that dramatically speeds up the ripening (and then, alas, ruination) of any fruit or vegetable in close proximity. Toss the adorably named E.G.G. (Ethylene Gas Guardian) into your crisper drawer, or store fruits in a reusable Debbie Meyer GreenBag. Both products oxidize the gas, rendering it harmless. 

Keep produce dry. Keeping moisture where it belongs is key to produce’s longevity. Anything that breaches the outer skin of a fruit or vegetable—a bruise, a spot of rot, or a cut surface—will accelerate decay.