Shopping smart while in lockdown

We’re being told to minimise our trips to supermarkets and stores, but how to ensure fresh produce is stored effectively?

Shopping smart while in lockdown

I’m working from the spare bedroom at home. It’s a beautiful day, but I’m craving fresh fruit.

The good thing is that throughout the panic buying that got the COVID-19 pandemic off to a frightful start, the shelves of fresh produce at most stores were well stocked.

Anyway, I’m about to send hubby to the local fruit and vegie shop with a big order, but is it safe to buy fresh produce right now? And how to make sure that produce lasts as long as possible so we don’t need to go again in three or four days’ time?

Fortunately, my local fruit shop has supplied disposable gloves for customers to put on as you enter so you can handle fruit as hygienically as possible. Who doesn’t like to slightly squeeze an avocado or a peach to see how ripe it is?

If your fruiterer does not have disposable gloves, take your own and dispose of them as you leave.

Now, and always, make sure you wash items before use. And even though we know the skins of many items are packed with nutrients, consider peeling during this time.

Knowing which fruits and vegies last longer – and how they should be stored – is vital to avoid throwing away ‘money’ (read rotten produce) in the compost bin.

Produce to store
Onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole pumpkins and ginger can be stored in a cool dark spot for weeks. Some of these may sprout at the end of winter but you’re safe at this time of the year.

A great way to store ginger is to wash and peel it, then cut it into chunks. Put as much as will fit into a clean jar and fill it to the top with dry sherry, or any sherry. The cheaper the better. Seal and store in the pantry until you need it. It will last for ages, if you don’t double dip.

And just those few items – plus a few herbs and spices – can be made into delicious soups.

Try this Budget Potato Soup with Onion Scones and make extra quantities to freeze for later.

Produce to store in the fridge
Leafy greens such as lettuce, rocket, spinach, silverbeet, kale and bok choy should be stored in the fridge and used before they go limp or yellow when their nutrition value is dropping. It’s a similar situation for:

  • cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage
  • capsicums, cucumbers
  • fresh herbs
  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms (store in the fridge in a paper bag)
  • celery
  • beetroot
  • leeks

Produce not to store in the fridge

  • bananas

  • tomatoes

  • lemons and limes

East fresh

  • apples
  • berries
  • bananas
  • melon
  • avocadoes
  • tomatoes
  • other fresh fruit in season (avoid imports)

When packing your fridge, be sure produce is dry and allow for adequate space between items to promote better air circulation.

Whatever you buy, try to ensure it is local and in season. There is no good reason to buy mangoes from Mexico and asparagus from Peru. Just wait until produce that is grown here in Australia is ready for purchase.

And check whether your local store does home deliveries. Supermarkets, of course, have that service available.

What tips do you have for buying and storing fresh produce?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    Nana Gee
    1st Apr 2020
    Firm avocados will keep in the frig for several weeks, bring them out one at a time a few days before they are needed to finish ripening. Dice or slice seeded capsicum and freeze ready to use in recipes. Slice celery and freeze, ready to use likewise.
    1st Apr 2020
    I always dip fresh produce in Herbal-Active solution. It is a natural antimicrobial and an award winning product. What it does is to kill both food pathogens (bugs that can make us sick) AND food spoilage organisms. I've had berries last 2-3 weeks after dipping. Melons go 3-5 weeks. Cherries can last 6 to 8 weeks and zucchini can last 4 months!!!

    The good news too, is that the nutritional value of the item is preserved because the fungi and moulds that would normally rot the produce are gone and so the fruits and veg are as good as they started or could ever get.
    1st Apr 2020
    Hi VicCherikoff,
    What is Herbal-Active solution is it a product or can one make it?
    I read that washing fruit in half a cup of vinegar mixed in water will stop fungi and mould. It has worked for me.
    3rd Apr 2020
    Hi Sen.Cit.90,

    Herbal-Active is a natural food rinse made from essential oils from herbs and spices.

    Read more here:

    It is also great as an antiseptic if you put some into a spray bottle.
    1st Apr 2020
    Apples have already been in cold storage unless you see the grower picking them and selling them at road side stalls / shops. A lot of fruit and vegetables have been in cold storage at some time
    1st Apr 2020
    does any other alcohol do the same thing when storing ginger?
    1st Apr 2020
    If you have some handy --?? :-) - wrap frig veg in kitchen paper before putting into plastic bags I have done this very successfully for years now.This will absorb moisture and keep veg much longer.When the paper becomes damp, under current circumsatnces leave it on the bench to dry out before rewrapping the veg.Lay carrots thick end to thin ends along several sheets and wrap up.Green beans lay out along several sheets and roll up.I did this for a while and then bought bamboo sheets on a roll which can be laundered over and over.Do NOT wrap leafy greens in paper or bamboo - it can be too effective for those and make them limp.
    2nd Apr 2020
    Coles not home delivering at all. Still waiting for Coles to get their priority service up and running. Woolworths delivery for priority service customers only.
    2nd Apr 2020
    I'm still waiting for Coles to get their COPS service up and running too. Received an email from them about a week ago to say it was all set to go - I went to the trouble to fill in all the boxes and order what I needed but when I got to the check out, was informed that there were no available delivery times available. NOT happy with their misinformation and am seriously considering switching to Woolies in future. Lucky I am not desperate YET.
    2nd Apr 2020
    Lots of vegetables will last a lot longer if you wrap them in paper towel, then bag them and place in refrigerator.
    6th Apr 2020
    There is also Fresh Paper or the Bluapple that helps to keep them longer and special containers too that you can buy.

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