The Kitchen Think: Waste Not, Want Not


Donny Osmond was wrong: One bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch.

I hate throwing away fruits and vegetables because I didn’t store them properly and they languished, forgotten in the fridge. Mold grows rapidly and contaminates everything quickly. Strawberries are a good example: One day they look fine, but by the next afternoon they’re fuzzy and white.

I guess the first rule here is: Buy with a plan in mind and buy only what you are going to use that week. Whatever you buy, eat the most perishable items first. The asparagus you buy today won’t last until the end of the week. It may still be green, but it will have lost a lot of its nutrients and flavor.

The second rule is pretty important, too. Make sure all your fruits and vegetables get along and play nice. I’m serious. Certain fruits and veggies give off high levels of natural ethylene gas, an odorless, colorless ripening agent, so they shouldn’t be stored with some produce because it accelerates spoilage.

Vegetarian Times has a great online article describing which fruits and veggies should be refrigerated and which should be kept separated so they don’t ripen other produce too fast and cause spoilage.  Here’s a brief recap:


  • Tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Avocados
  • Unripe bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Winter squash
  • Garlic


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Figs
  • Honeydew


  • Ripe Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon

Finally, one of the worst things you can do for any type of fresh produce is store it sealed in an airtight bag (in the fridge, on the counter or in the pantry) where it can’t breathe. Store the fruits and veggies loose in the crisper (that’s the bin above the meat storage bin in your refrigerator) or put them in a brown paper bag or an open plastic bag so they don’t suffocate.

So, next time you’re putting the fruits and veggies away, try humming the chorus to that old Offspring song, “You gotta keep ‘em separated…”


Like it? Share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: