5. Storage Of Fresh Fruit
Do not wash any fruit before storing, and don't remove stems first. Sort it carefully and use any damaged pieces immediately. Fruit that is purchased locally should not be bought in large quantities. A week's supply should be the maximum; more perishable fruits like peaches should be purchased in smaller amounts.
Most fruits should be held at room temperature (out of direct sunlight) until they reach the desired degree of ripeness, and then refrigerated for a few days if necessary. (Ideally, the fruit should be used as soon as possible after it is fully ripe.) Thin-skinned fruits ripening in the kitchen must be covered at night, as they may attract insects. Fruits with tough outer coverings (bananas, avocados) need not be covered. Use brown paper bags for this purpose, not plastic bags, which cut off air. Don't wash fruit until you are ready to eat it.
Apples may be stored in the refrigerator without prior ripening. If they were mature when picked, they will ripen in the refrigerator, and most apples will keep well—some varieties better than others. Much depends on their condition when they are stored. Usually Delicious apples are not considered good "keepers" but we have had excellent experience with our Golden Delicious apples. Maximum storage time is supposedly a few weeks, but we have ordered large enough quantities to last two months or longer, with good results.
Most ripe fruits keep best at quite low temperatures (above freezing, of course). If you set your refrigerator at about 42 degrees, it will be suitable for most of your foodstuffs.
There is one important precaution to take when storing apples. They emit a kind of ripening gas, which can spoil other foods. Therefore, apples should be stored covered, or in pliofilm bags, if there is any other unwrapped food in the refrigerator. Unwrapped apples will also absorb odors from other produce, and they will keep longer if stored covered or bagged.
Some fruit, such as grapes, pineapple and watermelon, will not ripen after picking. These should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator as soon as possible, and used within a few days. Maximum storage time for grapes in good condition is five days, but they need to be culled daily. Grapes may be stored in an open container. We use an oblong plastic refrigerator storage box. A whole ripe watermelon may be used gradually over a period of several days. A ripe pineapple should be used in a day or two.
As previously indicated, it is best to buy a ripe honeydew melon, instead of trying to ripen it at home. I have had the frustrating experience of holding honeydew melons for weeks—if you buy melons that do not have the signs of ripeness previously described, they may never get ripe. Other melons—other than watermelon and honeydew—can be ripened on your kitchen counter, then stored in the refrigerator. When ripe, use as soon as it is possible, within two or three days.
Ripe unwashed peaches and nectarines will keep fairly well in the refrigerator for a few days (if just barely ripe and not overripe). Peaches and nectarines must be carefully watched and culled.
They may be stored in an open bin or container.
Other ripe fruits may be stored in the refrigerator (cherries, apricots, papayas, plums) from several, days to a week, depending on their condition when you move them to the refrigerator. Keep watching, culling and using them. Most fruits may be stored in open bins or containers.
Berries are very perishable, and should be bought for immediate use. Strawberries may keep a day or so, a little better than blackberries or raspberries. Blueberries, if in good condition, may keep a few days. Berries, including strawberries, must be tightly covered.
Japanese persimmons should be eaten when ripe; they do not keep well. They may be stored in the refrigerator a day or two after fully ripe, in a covered container. If you have too many to use before they spoil, they may be frozen successfully, but with some loss of flavor. The small native persimmons freeze very well; they may taste even better after having been frozen, if eaten before they are thoroughly thawed.
Fresh, ripe figs need to be eaten immediately—they are extremely perishable—you might be able to store them for one day in a covered container.
Once bananas are ripe, their life can be prolonged for several days by storing them in the refrigerator. Bananas (like apples) emanate a ripening gas and should be covered or bagged if other uncovered foods are stored in the refrigerator. Bananas also emanate a strong odor. Bananas stored in the refrigerator will turn black and look unattractive, but they will still be "good eating" for several days. If you have too many to use up quickly, they may be frozen. Recipes for different ways to use ripe bananas will be given in Lesson 26.
Avocados may be stored in the refrigerator after ripening, but not too long—about three days maximum. If you find that they have gray, black or brown spots when you cut them, cut the darkened areas away and test the good-looking green part by taste. If you have too many avocados that will ripen too fast, try storing them in the refrigerator in their hard state and bring them out to ripen as needed. They will last quite a long time. This will be fairly consistently successful with avocados and will sometimes also work with mangos. Other fruits will usually not ripen successfully after having been chilled.
Citrus fruit will keep well for several weeks, sometimes much longer. They may be stored in open bins or containers in a cold room or the refrigerator. Do not store in closed bags.
Kiwifruit may be stored in the refrigerator for two or three days after it feels soft enough to eat. Litchi fruit is a little tart when mature and freshly picked. It sweetens as it ripens and should be used before the bright red outer covering starts to deteriorate. It may be stored in the refrigerator for a few days after it has attained its full sweetness. Loquats are tart early in the season but have a bright orange color when ripe; they are firm with a little yielding when pressed. Ripe loquats may be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. These fruits may be stored, covered or uncovered.
Mangos may be stored in the refrigerator when ripe, depending on their condition, and may last for quite some time, if they are still a little firm when stored. I recently had a mango that I kept in the refrigerator for two weeks after ripening and it was still perfect, sweet and luscious when it was used by my husband, Lou, the day after breaking his 29-day fast. The mango season was about over and I had saved it for him, hoping it would not deteriorate; he said it was the best one he had ever tasted.
Ripe pomegranates may be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so.
These storage tips are generalized, of course. You will need to develop judgment and expertise in nurturing your fruit, which will come through practice.
Home > Lesson 24 - Selection And Storage Of Most Wholesome Foods, Part I
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