Storing your Organic Fruit and Veg

We  get very few complaints about the vegetable produce that we grow ourselves, certainly less than one per month. This is considered within the trade to be very low.  When it is our own produce which is from June through to March then the level of complaints is almost non-existent. The occasional complaint is most likely at this time of the year when we are buying a percentage in. We really do try our best to ensure that you receive the best quality that we can provide, but accept that occasionally there will be a problem.

The distribution of fruit is far more problematic as we have far less control over production and supply and it travels far greater distances. We refuse to purchase anything that has travelled by airfreight. It may well have been cold-stored for long periods of time and then subjected to warmer temperatures as we are not able to cold store from farm to door in the same way that supermarket supplies would have been. Organic fruit that goes to the wholesale market as opposed to direct to the supermarket has a longer supply chain. Supermarkets purchase in massive quantities, in the case of bananas it could be a whole ship load of containers, they have their own ripening stores where the produce is held at a certain temperature and fed nitrogen air to improve the ripening times. The lorries that cart the produce from these mega- stores to the mega- supermarkets have cold storage; the stores have it as well so that throughout the whole cool chain the produce never gets above a certain temperature until you pick it up off the shelf.

Even with this high degree of distribution technology they still admit to dumping over 40% of fresh produce, which is why you will be paying more for your organic fruit at these stores. With the fruit we purchase there is no complete cool chain, it usually stops at the wholesaler who may be several weeks away from your doorstep. Inevitably there will be some problems with fruit going off (Conventional fruit is sprayed with Thiabenzole- a known carcinogen, several times to prevent moulds forming).

We try very hard to ensure that nothing leaves here that will not keep for several days, however it is inevitable that the odd item will slip through, oranges and lemons are the main offenders,, there may have been a tiny soft area that we have missed and this can grow rapidly in a warm room. So be sure to collect your fruit as quickly as you can from your rep as the longer it hangs around a warm room the faster it will deteriate.

Got a complaint?

If you have a quality problem then we really do want to hear from you, don’t just go grumbling off and telling your friends before you tell us. Tell your neighbourhood rep, they will inform us and we will replace to a greater value than the lost product.

We replace without question.

Storage of fruit

Organic fruit needs to be treated differently from conventional fruit; it will not keep as long as it is not chemically treated for storage.

Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and apples should be fine in a cool room for at least a week. In a hot room they could go off very quickly. Apples kept cool and dark will keep much longer.

Kiwi – These are usually unripe and will ripen slowly in a warm (16C) room. You can feel when they are starting to get soft they are usually at there best, this could take several weeks sometimes depending on the condition they arrive in.

Pineapples – so far these have arrived mostly in a ripe condition. People are probably used to buying pineapples when they are yellow. This is not natural they only go yellow at a very advanced stage when they are beginning to rot. Conventional pineapples are sprayed with a chemical to encourage a yellow colour; which makes them look nice under supermarket lights – so use them up immediately, there may be darker areas of flesh inside the skin this is normal in naturally ripened fruit and is usually the best flavoured part.

Bananas – these have to be harvested green for the 7-10 day boat trip from the Caribbean. On arrival in UK they go into special ripening stores where they are held at 14C. Our suppliers Choice Organic in London have recently installed such a ripening room for bananas. So usually they come to us ready ripened with just a hint of green this allows a few days for consumer use. Sometimes due to problems of supply shortages they may not have been fully ripened before they arrive with us so we have to send them out green. They will ripen providing you:

  • Wrap in plastic
  • Place in dark place
  • Keep at 14C

They will ripen within a week or so. At cooler temperatures they will slowly ripen but loose flavour and become woody. Skin colour is not necessarily an indication of ripeness. The very richest flavour will be attained if the skin has dark brown spots (like freckles) all over it. In this condition they are at their tastiest, many people assume they are inedible at this stage or use them for cooking. For this reason we do not send them out at this stage.

Mangoes – these are the most difficult of fruits to assess whether they are ripe or not. They will always need ripening off as they arrive in a green state. Do not press the skin to see if it has ripened this will bruise the fruit and start it rotting. Store at room temperature. A very gentle touch to the skin will with experience indicate ripeness. Different varieties have different ripening characteristics, I am told that the fruits from Burkina Sasao (W Africa) are the easiest; these will be arriving soon in London.

Avocados – treat these in the same way as mango, do not squeeze the flesh as this will cause the fruit to become bruised and rot.

Vegetables

Much like the fruit attention need to be taken in order to store the vegetables correctly and get the best longevity from the produce.

Potatoes & Roots – the most important thing to remember when storing your roots such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc is to keep them cool and dark. Ideally you should never wash your veg’ before storing, the soil acts as a natural preservative and washing them will cause them to go off far quicker. Keep them wrapped in brown paper and keep in somewhere like a cool, dark cupboard. The optimum temperature is 5 degrees.

If stored correctly your spuds will last many months, and if they begin to sprout, don’t worry they are still edible, just nock them off!

Beetroot on the other hand keeps best in the fridge, keeping them solid for longer.

Leafy Greens – keep in the fridge, wrapping in a plastic bag will also help to keep them succulent and fresh.

Onions – these keep easily, cool, dry and airy will do the trick.

Squash – keep at room temperature with air to breath, too much moisture may cause them to go off. If you do notice mould occurring cut it off and the remanding squash will still be good to eat.