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Everyday Cheapskate: 6 Ways to Stop Throwing Rotten Produce in the Garbage

Mary Hunt on

I plead guilty on this one. I just don't think about it if I can't see a mess. The truth is that any time something spoils in the refrigerator, it leaves behind mold we can't see. As a result, this mold attacks the new fresh stuff you put in there. Disinfecting the inside surfaces of your refrigerator regularly will make everything last a little longer and smell a lot better.


Soaking berries in a weak vinegar and water solution before you store them in the refrigerator will make them last for several days longer than simply putting them in the fridge. Add 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. Swirl the berries around for just a few seconds. Rinse and store. Strawberries can last up to two weeks longer using this method.


This is a clever gadget that slows down the ripening process by absorbing the natural ethylene gas, which all fruits and vegetables give off in the process of ripening. Ethylene is a harmless, odorless and colorless gas responsible for the natural ripening process. A high concentration of ethylene gas in the refrigerator or the fruit bowl speeds up the ripening process, and that's what hastens spoilage.



A Foodsaver vacuum-sealing machine is the best option for extending the useful life of produce. Food can be vacuum-sealed in bags or specific Foodsaver canisters. However, my favorite method for storing everything from strawberries to tomatoes to everything in between is in ordinary glass canning jars. This requires a Jar Sealing Kit that attaches to the Foodsaver.


There is a lovely company called Imperfect Produce that offers a subscription delivery service for "ugly" food. The San Francisco Bay Area company estimates that about one-fifth of all fruit and vegetables end up in the dump for failure to conform to the industry standard of perfection. Imperfect Produce offers perfectly healthy and nutritious "ugly" produce for up to 50% less than retail store prices.

At this time, Imperfect Produce delivers to over 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S., and it is expanding quickly. Be sure to check the website to see if the company has added your neighborhood yet.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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