Keeping Produce Fresh
I hate to burst any "green-type produce bag" bubbles, but my son recently participated in a Jr./Sr. High School science fair. I wandered through the exhibit hall, checking out the "competition," and saw that many of the kids did an experiment to see if the produce bags actually work. Consistently, these young scientists concluded that there was no difference between the produce bags, regular zip bags, no bag, and paper bags in the refrigerator. Any bag worked to ripen bananas and tomatoes outside the refrigerator. In other words, don't waste your money!
editor's note: Anyone with scientific-type evidence to support the use of green-type produce bags? If so, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
I find that putting produce in the Debbie Myers Green Bags significantly prolongs shelf life compared to a clear plastic bag. Although I didn't do a true "scientific experiment," I have observed a prolonged shelf life of a week to ten days on the following items: cilantro, parsley, green peppers and lettuce. I would hypothesize that the delay in ripening would also hold true for other produce.
Betsy G. in Richmond, VA
I purchased these bags, and believe me when I tell you that banana skins may keep their yellow color longer, but wait until you peel it. You will find a mushy fruit. I base my opinion on trying these bags four different times with the same negative result. Save your money to buy more bananas. I have greater success by keeping bananas in a cool place.
Dottie H. in S.C.
It seems that the tip writer has confused the "ripening" process with what the produce bag commercial is supposed to be doing. It would appear from the commercial that the green bags are meant to delay the ripening process. The writer seems to say that any bag will ripen produce. These statements seem to be two different bag uses for two different results. This does not appear to be the same experiment.
I would suggest that any person interested in testing should buy or borrow a green-type bag, and place a banana in this, and also place a banana in a re sealable bag and a paper bag. Each day, check each piece of fruit to see which is ripening the fastest and which is the slowest. I don't believe that the commercial mentions using a refrigerator either. It would also be interesting, for educational purposes, to list the hypothesis of the school science project.
I travel for two to three weeks at a time. If I put lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, citrus fruit, etc. in green bags, the produce shows no sign of deterioration when I return. I am amazed each trip. I wash the bags after each use. I do not mix produce in the bag and I use a tie.
I did my own experiment at home. I purchased red and yellow peppers at the same time and at the same supermarket. Then placed one red and one yellow pepper in the green bag and left the other in the refrigerator wrapped in the package they came in. The green bagged peppers lasted three weeks longer than the ones left wrapped in the original package.
Also I tried this with celery and left one stalk in the original bag and put the other one in a green bag. The stalk in the original bag has already been thrown away. The one in the green bag is still crisp and usable. It has been about over two weeks so far.
I am a true believer in the green bags! My produce often went to waste before I started using the green bags!
I tried the green bags and am still using them. After three or more uses, they do lose their effectiveness. I was quite disappointed when I used them with bananas. They did seem to last longer with fewer brown spots, but the taste/texture was off and left a bad after-taste. The bags do work with harder fruit like apples, oranges and veggies like carrots and lettuce.
SP in ND
I don't know how "scientific" I can really call this, but we started receiving a weekly box of ripe-right-now produce from a local farm two years ago. Originally, we used no bags at all but merely dropped the produce straight into the fridge. Laziness is costly. Our fresh produce was generally starting to mold within two or three days.
Then we started wrapping the fruit in paper or plastic as it arrived, using whatever seemed most appropriate. We used re sealable bags for things that weren't particularly moist, paper towels for leafy things that would extrude a lot of moisture, and loose plastic for things like onions. We still had significant losses, but at least when one thing started molding, it didn't contaminate the stuff next to it.
Then we decided to give the produce bags a shot. Amazon.com offers Evert-Fresh bags for $9.99 for a ten pack, and each bag can be reused at least ten times.
I have carrots in my crisper right now that have been in a green bag for over a month, and they're still fresh and crisp. If I put celery into my crisper with no protection, I get about three or four days before it goes limp; with just plain old plastic wrap or a re sealable bag, I get maybe a day or two more. With the green bag, it'll still go "snap" two weeks later.
If you want to ripen fruit, just use a plain old paper bag. In fact, a green bag would probably slow the ripening process. But if you want your leafy greens to stay palatable longer, we've really found the green bags to be worth using, especially if you're buying your produce from a farmer's market or farm, where it is picked when ready to eat.
There are some "learning experiences" we've had to go through with green bags. Moisture is an enemy in any sealed-up plastic bag, so you want to make sure what you're putting in there is dry. If it isn't completely dry, don't get too enthusiastic about sealing up the bag that first day.
When putting away lettuce or other "juicy" produce, adding some paper towel can greatly improve your results. You don't need a TON, just a little to absorb some of the moisture. Half a sheet is generally plenty or you can use a coffee filter.
Each bag can be reused at least ten times. There does come a point of diminishing returns, but even after that point has been reached, you can still use them for shorter-term storage.
And even after they've lost their gas-absorption powers, they can still be used at the supermarket or farmer's market to carry your produce. This is environmentally friendly, and a tiny nibble out of the seller's overhead costs as well. Enough tiny nibbles can add up to a nice bite, which could even make it to our pockets in the end.
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