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FAQs about fresh produce
You often will see options to buy pre-cut produce on grocery store shelves. Examples include pineapple chunks, fresh broccoli florets, or vegetable trays with dips. Though these might be useful to have on the go or in a pinch, it's generally better to buy whole produce and cut it yourself.
With cut produce, you'll most often have to pay for services rendered, such as cutting or peeling the fruit or vegetable. You can save money by cutting the produce yourself. And by leaving fruits and vegetables whole until you prepare them, you can also extend the item's shelf life.
Short answer: yes. You should wash all of your fruit and vegetables before you eat them. Washing produce is effective in removing bacteria. You don't need to buy any fancy produce washes — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says cold tap water will do just fine. Though simple rinsing is better than not washing your produce at all, some produce can be cleaned in more effective ways than others. For instance, you may want to give the root vegetables a wash and a scrub to remove any dirt and bacteria.
To preserve taste, try to wash the produce just before you eat it. This is especially true of more sensitive fruits, such as berries. Washing produce as soon as you bring it home can make the items damp and more susceptible to bacteria growth.
Storing fruits and vegetables can be an art. Some like the refrigerator, and some don't. Some don't like to be stored with other produce. Some want to be trimmed, and some don't enjoy being bagged. If you want to develop your storage system, we suggest doing a quick internet search for storing each item you buy. Here are a few examples to show you how finicky produce sometimes can be.
- Don't store apples with anything else. They produce more Ethylene, which can make your other produce go bad more quickly.
- Storing bananas and avocados in the fridge before they've ripened can ruin them.
- Keep berries and stone fruits as cold as possible.
- Cucumbers last longer at room temperature than in the refrigerator.
- Putting garlic in the refrigerator is a great way to make it sprout and go bitter.
- Tomatoes go soft and mushy in the refrigerator.
Sometimes, you just can't get through all your vegetables and fruits before they start to lose their luster. Rather than throw overripe produce away, consider putting it in a recipe that calls for the item. For instance, overripe vegetables are perfect for stews and soups or blending into a salad dressing. If you have overripe bananas, make banana bread, muffins, or pancakes with them. If you've ever wanted to try your hand at homemade ice cream or fruit jams, you can use your overripe fruits to make those as well.
The best way to get close to the perfect amount of fruits and vegetables is to shop more frequently for your dinner ingredients or make a weekly menu. A weekly menu can help you avoid the stress of deciding what to make for dinner on a particular night. Dedicate some time each week to write down what you'll make over the next few days, then order enough produce to make those recipes.
Ready to make your weekly excursions for fresh produce easier than they've ever been? Download the Instacart app or visit our website today to fill your virtual cart with fresh produce from stores near you. Let the Instacart shoppers collect the fruits and vegetables you will need to upgrade this week's dinners. Whether you order delivery or pickup, produce shopping just got a lot easier.