Do these food storage tips really work?

six common food myths debunked
Food myths: debunkedThomas Barwick - Getty Images

We're all aware of how the cost of essentials is rising, and groceries are a prime example with food inflation reaching a 45-year high this year. It's all the more frustrating, then, when we accidentally waste food.

Storing your food correctly is one of the best ways to avoid food waste, and while you may think that you know how to do this, there are some myths going around that could be spoiling your produce before you get the chance to eat it.

To help you avoid wasting food — and money — we've put together this guide to separate food storage fact from fiction.

Myth: It's fine to store all your fruit in the same fruit bowl


A lot of fruits give off high levels of the natural ripening agent, ethylene, which can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding produce. Apples are a major culprit of this (hence the adage ‘bad apple’) along with pears, bananas, mangoes, plums and nectarines, so it’s always best to try and store fruits like these away from each other so they ripen at a slower and steadier pace. Apples will stay fresh for longer if you keep them in the fridge.

Not all fruits and vegetables are sensitive to ethylene. Cherries, pineapples, grapefruit and blueberries can all be safely stored together or next to those that produce this gas.

Myth: Bananas are best kept in a bunch


A bunch of bananas may be an attractive centrepiece in your fruit bowl. But by storing them all together in one bunch, each banana will ripen at the same time, meaning you’ve either got to eat all your bananas at once or risk throwing away the rotten ones.

Instead, take off any plastic packaging as soon as you get the fruit home and break up the bunch. Jamie Crummie, co-founder of the world's largest surplus food app Too Good To Go, said: “Keep some in a bowl on the counter to ripen and store other bananas in the fridge to delay the ripening process.”

six common food myths debunked
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Myth: Bananas make avocados ripen faster


As one of the fruits that does give off ethylene, bananas are the perfect partner for hard, unripe avocados. By storing ripe bananas with unripe avocado you can speed up the ripening process naturally. However, if you don’t want to eat your avocados just yet, these are two foods that you might not want to store together!

GHI Tip: By placing bananas and avocado in a brown paper bag, the bag speeds up the process even more by trapping the ethylene gas inside. Just be sure to not leave them too long otherwise your avocado could over-ripen.

six common food myths debunked
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Myth: Onions and potatoes can be stored together


Onions and potatoes often go hand in hand in recipes and they’re also often mistakenly stored together. But onions can make root vegetables go bad faster, so it’s better to keep potatoes alongside things like pumpkins or squash in a cool, dark place (a paper bag works well) to preserve freshness.

Helen White, an advisor on food waste for WRAP, said: “While most fruit and veg should be kept in the fridge, onions, potatoes and uncut pineapple and potatoes do best in a cool cupboard. A better companion for onions is garlic as they can be stored near each other without ripening or spoiling. Just make sure it’s in a well-ventilated space, and that the skin paper-like stays intact in order to better preserve it.”

MYTH: Your fruit and veg can all go in the veg drawer in your fridge


There are many ethylene-sensitive vegetables that also risk turning overripe when stored alongside the typically ethylene-producing fruits mentioned above. Examples include asparagus, cucumbers, broccoli and mushrooms so it’s always best to store these on their own, unless you’re looking to speed up the ripening of produce such as avocados.

Chef Dan Batten of the food waste app Kitche says: “When keeping fresh ingredients in the fridge, I highly recommend vented fridge storage containers as these will keep veg and salad items fresher for much much longer."

Not only do these keep fruit and veg away from each other and prevent the speeding up of the ripening process, but they also keep your fridge organised which reduces the chance of overbuying and wasting food.

six common food myths debunked
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Myth: You should keep all produce in its packaging until you’re ready to use it


Plastic packaging can cause fresh produce — particularly mushrooms — to 'sweat', and the excess moisture causes the food to deteriorate faster.

Try swapping your leafy greens from plastic bags into paper towel-lined boxes or slipping mushrooms into a brown paper bag instead of their plastic tray.

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