Millions of peaches, peaches for me.
July 16, 2009 4:04 PM   Subscribe

How can I avoid (or at least, delay just for a few days) the growth of mould on my fruit?

We're just two, and she eats very little fruit, so I'm having most of it, and it's ok since I love fruit.

Now, the problem is: we live in the countryside, and - for what I gather - the air is naturally alive with spores and fungi and who knows what else, so most of the fruits I buy (especially peaches and apricots this season) grow beautiful, colourful and interesting moulds in one or two days from the moment I buy them (at the supermarket, where they're apparently intact).

This means they're not treated with too many nasty chemicals - yay!

But honestly I'd like to be able to stop tossing more or less half of what I buy into the recycle bin. Firstly because I don't like throwing food away, secondly because I *really* do love fruits. I'm not too squeamish and have no problem in cutting away a bad part and eating the rest, but here we're talking from pristine to unrecoverable in little more than 24 hours!

Data points: the fruit is kept in a small darkish storage room beside the kitchen, at room temperature (now about 70-80F). There's very little humidity - to the point that salt or sugar don't clump at all or a box of cereals/crackers/cookies can be forgotten open, and keeps crunchy for a long time.

What should I do? Keep it in the fridge? Wash everything just after buying, let dry in the air and see what happens? Store in a sealed container? Add some bicarbonate or a very mild chlorine based disinfectant to the water? Buy very little quantities day by day? (I'd prefer to avoid that for practical reasons) or just stop getting my fruit at the supermafrket and go to the farmer market? ... complex esoterism involving candles, incense, peanut butter and a norwegian llama?
posted by _dario to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, keep it in the fridge. Just don't put tomatoes in the fridge because that gives them a strange texture.
posted by HotPatatta at 4:09 PM on July 16, 2009

Try keeping one peach in the normal spot and one in the fridge to compare how quickly they rot.
posted by HotPatatta at 4:10 PM on July 16, 2009

You can keep them in the refrigerator, or buy them more frequently.
posted by booknerd at 4:11 PM on July 16, 2009

I've not tried this, but Aloe Vera gel has preservative-like effects when used to coat produce, you could try experimenting with some in a spray bottle.
posted by tybeet at 4:12 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: Wrap each one of them individually in a paper towel fresh from the roll before you put them in the "small darkish room beside the kitchen", aka the 'pantry'.

You'll be amazed how much better they keep.
posted by jamjam at 4:17 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: It sounds like your storage room may be the contaminate. If you store a lot of fruit in the same place and they all get moldy in the same place, then there are going to be a lot of spores in that one area, causing fruit to mold twice as fast. Try storing your fruit in a different room. You may also want to consider washing the storage room walls and shelves with a water and vinegar mix to kill the fungus. Be sure to do this occasionally to keep mold from coming back.
posted by nikkorizz at 4:20 PM on July 16, 2009

Unless you really want mealy peaches, don't store them in the refrigerator:

Can refrigerating peaches make them mealy? Cooks Illustrated agrees:

Can refrigerating peaches make them mealy? According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, the answer is yes. A study in the August 13, 2004, edition found that storage at temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy the activity of certain enzymes in the peach that normally break down pectin in its cell walls during the ripening process. If these enzymes are deactivated before the fruit is ripe, the pectin will remain intact and the peach will have a mealy texture.

To test this finding ourselves, we divided a single case of peaches into two batches, allowing one to ripen immediately without refrigeration and storing the other for a week in the fridge, before allowing it to finish ripening for a couple of days at room temperature. Both sets of peaches were placed in containers sealed with plastic wrap in order to prevent moisture from evaporating. True to the study, our tasters found that despite being soft and ripe to the touch, the peaches that spent time in the fridge were significantly mealier than those kept at room temperature. Moral of the story: Don’t refrigerate your peaches unless you’re sure they’re ripe. You may prolong their shelf life, but the loss of quality isn’t worth it.

I think you just need to eat them faster. Or make pie.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: pantry, thanks! (not a native speaker)
posted by _dario at 4:29 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: Try putting one of these in your fruit bowl. It absorbs the gas that causes fruit and vegetables to rot. Works a treat.
posted by randomination at 4:32 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: Moulds and fungi like the dark. Try putting a few bits of fruit in the traditional bowl on the kitchen table and see how it keeps compared to what's in the pantry. Line the bowl with paper towel to discourage the formation of damp spots under sitting fruit.

Also, I recently accidentally discovered a useful trick for discouraging rot in Roma tomatoes: put a bulb of garlic in the middle of the fruit bowl, and orient the stem ends of the tomatoes toward it. Makes the tomatoes taste richer, too.
posted by flabdablet at 4:59 PM on July 16, 2009

otherworldlyglow, Cook's Illustrated is correct that if you store UNRIPENED stone fruit in the fridge it will get mealy, but as they note in the "moral of the story," once stone fruit is ripe to your taste, it's perfectly okay to store it in the fridge and at that point it will not get mealy. See also this page on storage temperatures from the California Tree Fruit Agreement.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:05 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: It's worth making sure you handle things gently. Even the tiniest bruises and blemishes are weak points. Select carefully, bag carefully, pack carefully, transport carefully, unpack carefully.

A week at room temperature is an upper limit for stonefruit in my experience though. Achieveable in the refrigerator, with the proviso about ripening and mealiness etc.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:25 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: I've had some success inhibiting mold growth on cheese and grapes by storing them wrapped in a paper towel moistened with vinegar-- something about the acid environment, apparently. Not sure if this would work for other fruit, but it's worth a try.

Another, more expensive option is getting one of those vacuum-sealable canisters for fruit storage-- if the spores can't get in, the mold can't grow.
posted by Bardolph at 6:31 PM on July 16, 2009

If I were you, I'd try to get the mold and fungus levels down by using hospital-strength Lysol products. Mopping with plain old water and bleach ought to help too.
posted by aquafortis at 6:36 PM on July 16, 2009

Do you use air conditioning? My fruit gets nasty in the kitchen which in the daytime gets up to about 85-90. If I put it in the dining room, which has an a/c window unit, even overripe peaches will keep from Sunday to Friday.
posted by notsnot at 6:56 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: How to Store Fresh Fruits guide says the fridge is good for ripe peaches. I have had good luck keeping ripe fruit fresh longer by storing in a stainless steel bowl in the fridge.
posted by gudrun at 9:14 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: We have had really good results with Green Bags.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:54 PM on July 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Come the next batch of fruit I'll try a few of the suggestions above. I have a couple vacuum canisters, I'll try and clean the shelves and the wall with a little bleach, I'll try keep some fruit in a bowl in the kitchen and some in the fridge, and some wrapped in paper towels. And generally, try and be gentler with the fruits.

For SCIENCE!, you know.
Thanks again.
posted by _dario at 2:39 AM on July 17, 2009

Best answer: I found that the single biggest factor in keeping produce fresh is to not buy it at the supermarket, but rather at the farmer's market. Fruit from the store usually lasts me about 3 days, whereas fruit from the farmer's market lasts a week, and sometimes even more. The stuff from my supermarket is positively ancient compared to fruit and veggies that were picked a day or so before being sold at the farmer's market, but I never realized what a huge difference this makes in having the fruit last.
posted by Atrahasis at 7:33 AM on July 17, 2009

Despite the horridity of the Web site, we have noticed significantly less molding, and longer lasting fruit, in our fridge since we got one of these ozonators.
posted by dpcoffin at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2009

« Older Can someone please explain random internet...   |   What is a camera with a good nighttime mode? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.