March 25

These Foods Spoil the Fastest

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by Julie Baker

Going to the farmers market every week can get a little expensive. Nothing brings tears to your eyes more than seeing mold on fresh strawberries you purchased for $4.50 a pound. To prevent this from happening — and to stretch your grocery budget further — it’s smart to know which foods to consume first.

Which Foods Spoil the Fastest?

1. Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are a lifesaver for quick breakfasts. Adding them to smoothies or pancakes gives you lots of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Unfortunately, the high water content of berries makes them extremely vulnerable to mold. You should always check underneath berry containers at the store for signs of it.

At home, do your best to keep berries cool and dry. If you have space, store them in the fridge in a colander. This can help them last up to a week.

2. Lemons and Limes

Fresh lemons and limes add zest to any recipe, from springtime vinaigrettes to heart-healthy Mediterranean cooking. When you store these citrus fruits properly, they can last almost a month. Stored incorrectly, though, they get moldy in just a few days.

Never keep lemons or limes at room temperature. Put them in the fridge inside a plastic bag. The plastic bag is key for preventing spoilage, both for the lemons and for most of the other produce in your fridge.

3. Ground Meat

When you’re at the store, keep an eye on meat that is starting to turn gray, has a slimy surface or smells strange. Ground meat is more vulnerable to spoilage because it's easier for bacteria to grow. Freeze or cook it the same day you buy it. For unthawing, always use the fridge, not the countertop.

4. Soft Cheeses

Cheeses add major protein to your diet. Harder varieties such as parmesan, pecorino and gruyere can last several weeks refrigerated without problems. The softer the cheese, the faster it turns moldy:

  • Cottage cheese

  • Cream cheese

  • Ricotta

  • Feta

  • Mozzarella

  • Gorgonzola

Did you know that shredded cheeses go bad more quickly than blocks? A great tip is to only shred what you’re going to use. Keep the rest in an airtight container on the top shelf of the fridge.

5. Leafy Greens and Fresh Herbs

You should include more leafy greens in your diet. They're good for your heart, brain and blood sugar. How can you keep kale, spinach, romaine lettuce and other leafy greens from turning brown?

They need to stay dry. Take them out of the original packaging, wrap them in a paper towel and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. Try not to squash the leaves.

Do you love fresh parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, chives and tarragon? Keep them fresh longer with the same tips.

6. Tomatoes

Ironically, tomatoes last longer outside the fridge than inside. They like it hot, not cold. Keep them on your countertop for up to a week.

How Can You Prevent Mold in Fresh Fruit and Veggies?

Aside from storing properly in the refrigerator, one of the best ways to keep fresh foods from spoiling is to use them more often. Add berries to your Greek yogurt when you need a snack. Get creative with veggies such as green beans, zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms in recipes that don't call for them. Most fresh vegetables work beautifully in spaghetti, soups, stir-fries and other family favorites.


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