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Proper storage takes bite out of money wasted by food rot

Posted September 29

How often do you throw away food?

Studies show the average family wastes $1,500 worth of food every year. The food most likely to end up in the garbage is produce.

To fight the waste, a growing market of storage products claim to prolong the life of produce. Consumer Reports checked them out to see which ones were worth the money.

Consumer Reports tested seven containers, including the Oxo Good Grips Greensaver and the Rubbermaid Fresh Works, which each cost $20.

Testers filled them with berries and greens, and they also left samples in their original clamshell containers. Then, they all went into fridge where they were checked regularly.

The greens in the Oxo Good Grips held up well, while the strawberries in the Rubbermaid looked better than the others.

But the question remains: Are special containers necessary?

“Overall, we found that none of the containers kept produce much fresher than the original clamshells,” said Consumer Reports' Bernie Deitrick.

Consumer Reports says the refrigerator itself, though, can make a difference. Produce stored in a dual-evaporative fridge—one that chills the freezer and fridge separately—lasts longer.

But any refrigerator can do a better job if you store foods in the right place.

“The best move is to store fruits and vegetables in low- and high-humidity bins in the refrigerator when you bring them home," said Consumer Reports Nutritionist Ellen Klosz.

For instance, broccoli and leafy greens need high-humidity. The low-humidity drawer is best for most fruits.

Some produce, such as tomatoes, should never go in the refrigerator.

As for potatoes, keep them away from onions—onion gases will cause the potatoes to sprout.

Another tip from Consumer Reports: Bread lasts longer if you keep it in the freezer, not the refrigerator. Take out what you need as you go along. It just takes a few minutes to thaw.

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  • Aiden Audric Oct 5, 12:20 p.m.
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    Don't touch the cheese!

    Seriously- if you buy bagged cheese, don't let people just reach in and grab some. It'll mold so very fast. Sprinkle it out of the bag.

    Same for slicing cheeses - don't hold it with your fingers. You know we've all seen mold growing in the shape of finger prints on that cheese we haven't touched in a little while.

    And don't forget: for block cheese with mold (because your kids also drink from the milk container, leave lights on, etc...) you can cut off the mold, discard, and go about your life.