Strategies for storage of fresh fruits (and vegetables)

How do you all manage keeping different fruits and veggies optimally fresh in the kitchen area, and is there anything special you do for humidification and/or ethylene gas management?

I’m assuming anything in true bulk would have to be stored in a converted freezer in the garage or basement. I am thinking a better fridge (possibly Sub-Zero) and possibly some under counter drawer units for different temps?

More background:

We are currently remodeling, and before running kitchen electrical, need to come up with a better strategy for refrigeration to optimize the life of the fruits and veggies we grow. We currently have 6 peach/pear/apple/plum/cherry trees (that number will double or triple), berries/grapes, and about 1000sf veggie garden (tomatoes galore, cucumbers, greens, root vegetables, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, summer and winter squashes, etc).

Currently we don’t do well at storing the food we produce, a lot of it goes to waste. Summer squash and eggplant get rubbery, greens wilt, etc.

It seems the majority of what we grow should either be stored at 33F / 95% RH or 50F / 95% RH (there are a few outliers such as winter squash and tomatoes).

Temp, Humidity, and Ethelyne gas management seem to be the big levers. Sub-zero seems to be very focused on those three, and friend swear by how long food lasts in theirs… but the crisper is only so large and only one temp.

Note: I won’t be able to do a root cellar, hence the title of refrigeration. Also, it is arid here (Colorado)

A subzero makes a huge difference in how stuff keeps.
We have a Thermadore now and it is just as good.
Even with a really good fridge, you really do have to figure out a processing plan for stuff. The best fridges will only buy you 2-3 days to a week on the fastest decline stuff. ( you can hold the tougher stuff much longer, but even a sz has only so much space)
I find homegrown, while much tastier, can also be more fragile so it doesn’t hold the same as commercial.
Figuring out how you like the eat the things you grow should help you plan out what to do when the crops are coming in.
Some things you need to chop and freeze, cook and freeze, can or dehydrate. ( or ferment)
We’ll plan our meals and buying around what’s coming in and eat as much fresh as we can but better to have backup uses so stuff doesn’t go bad.
Greens, peas and the like will get chopped and prepped for use in soups, stews or curries. They can be done in small, single batch or larger ones in the freezer.
We also do individually portioned pastes and fresh herb mixes.
Fruits can be done, whole, chunked, jams, sauces or finished baked goods.

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Have you considered a dual-zone freestanding wine chiller?

Thanks. Agreed that a lot of foods would be dehydrated, frozen, or prepared. However, maintaining some for maximum freshness is definitely the goal around this endeavor. I’m very interested to hear if outside of pure bulk storage, anyone is maintaining some refrigeration around that 33F/95% RH or 50F/95% RH for keeping the food fresh longer, and how effective it is (versus everything at, say 37F).

That is a new idea to me (unless we’re talking wine now, which is also OK)… what temp ranges would that be to target? I’m finding the refrigerator drawers are more like 34-42F.

They have a range of about 34-65 F. Adjustable. With dual zone, each side can be set independently if you have fruit with different requirements. Plus you would be able to spread the fruit out so it’s not piled up, which tends to cause bruising.

I haven’t heard of anyone doing this, but it just seems to make sense.

Thanks. That is definitely one I will keep in mind… I’ll have to check into that as an option and also see if they have any sense of humidity control. Since I am only finding sub-zero has specific target humidity numbers out there, whatever I do, I may have to find a way to manage the humidity level and gas removal.

You might find this helpful:

Thanks, CA_Poppy - that is an interesting read. Not that I read all 800 pages, but I did poke around and there is definitely some good information in there.

Unfortunately, now that I have read about chill damage, I am even more confused… a pear isn’t a pear and an apple isn’t an apple… each variety may have different chilling limits and recommended storage temps.

Does anyone know, when it comes to apples, pears, peaches, plums… for the varieties that store well, do they all tend to store well around 32 degrees, or do some of the ‘stores well’ varieties require a higher temperature like 40 degrees?

The best I can figure, the best setup in the kitchen is to have a high quality fridge with dedicated compressor and humidity control which runs at normal fridge temp. Then two separate drawers fridges - one around 32 and one around 50. However, I haven’t found drawers that span that entire range and have separate controls per-drawer.

I usually make a avocado/egg sandwich everyday and this is the way I keep the avocado fresh up to 5 days without adding lime juice. Just mash up the avocado and add to a deep Tupperware bowl pressing out as much air as possible. Then put plastic wrap over the avocado pressing out the air. Then add water on top of the plastic wrap, the weight of the water helps get air from getting in. Usually only a thin layer on top will turn brown.

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