Top tips to keep your 5+ a day fresher for longer

Avocado cut open (Getty)
Kiwis waste almost 50,000 tonnes of vegetables a year (Getty)

If you think you're making those avocados last longer by brushing them with olive oil or lemon juice, think again.

The best way to store your vegetables for a longer shelf life has been revealed  by a new study by Otago University.

It's an effort to try and combat the 47,615 tonnes of vegetables thrown away by Kiwi households each year.

"Many people don't put a lot of effort into storing their food correctly and we thought it was time to really put these storage methods to the test," said senior lecturer in food science Dr Miranda Mirosa.

"Vegetables make up almost a third of food wasted by New Zealand households, mainly due to their short shelf life. We wanted to find the best ways to make vegetables last for as long as possible so that people would have longer to eat them.

"The key message from the research is that it is better to do something than nothing. Small actions, such as putting your bagged lettuce in an airtight container, can have big impacts in terms of how long the food will last."


Mouth watering Avacado on chopping board with a spoon.

Researchers tested 17 different methods for storing every millennial's favourite fruit: the avocado. Methods included brushing the flesh with lemon juice, using an avocado saver, and wrapping the avocado half in cling wrap.

The results revealed encasing it in cling wrap and making a tight seal on the surface, with the stone left in, and storing it in the fridge was the most effective way to store a cut avocado. Storing avocado halves in this way could allow them to last up to four times longer than leaving it uncovered in the fridge.


TORONTO, ON -AUGUST 31 - Broccoli in Kensington Market in Toronto, August 31, 2015.        (Marta Iwanek/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Seven storage methods were tested for broccoli, including leaving it uncovered, wrapping it in a plastic bag, and wrapping it in cling wrap. 

The most successful method of preserving a head of broccoli is to sprinkle it in water (run it under the tap then shake the excess water off), wrap it in paper towels and then store it in the fridge in a ziplock bag. These extra steps will enable the broccoli to stay fresher for up to two-and-a-half times longer than just leaving it in the fridge uncovered. 


SAN RAFAEL, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Fresh spinach leaves are seen in the produce section of United Market September 15, 2006 in San Rafael, California. The source of an E. coli outbreak linked to bagged fresh spinach that spread to 20 states, sickening 90 people, was identified by the FDA as distributor Natural Selection Foods/Earthbound Farm based in San Juan Bautista, California, according to media reports.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Seven storage methods were tested to find the best way to keep salad greens fresh. It seems putting salad greens in an airtight container was the most successful way of keeping them crisp enough for the salad up to two days longer than keeping them in the open bag they came in. 


<<enter caption here>> on September 5, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

If, like me, your favourite snack is carrots and hummus, again the airtight container is the way to go. 

Nine methods for storing carrots were tested including storing them loose in the fridge, in a plastic bag, in an airtight container lined with a paper towel, and in an airtight container filled with water.

The best method to store carrots to stop them going limp or black is to put them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel. Storing carrots this way means they can last for up to 10 times longer than if they were unwrapped in the fridge.


Top tips to keep your 5+ a day fresher for longer

The success of storing celery depends on whether you have it cut or uncut. 

To maintain the quality of the whole celery, wrap the base in a paper towel and refrigerate it in a ziplock bag.

For cut celery, the best way to store it is in an airtight container lined with a paper towel. Storing celery this way would maintain the quality for five days longer than if it was left unwrapped in the fridge. 


Fresh Green Iceberg lettuce prepared on table

Storing iceberg lettuce in a lettuce crisper (an airtight plastic container which has a small tray in the bottom to elevate the lettuce) was one of the best methods to preserve the lettuce, according to the researchers. Equally, wrapping the lettuce in a paper towel and then putting it in a ziplock bag achieved a similar result. 


SANTA CLARA, VILLA CLARA, CUBA - 2015/09/13: Expensive food Cubans buy: Slices of raw pumpkin in bright yellow color placed against white background.

The low efficient agricultural industry in Cuba necessitates import of food produce which means higher prices. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The most successful method for storing cut pumpkin is wrapping it in cling wrap. Leaving the seeds in or removing them has no impact on how long the pumpkin will last.  Wrapping the pumpkin in cling wrap means it could last up to two times longer than leaving it unwrapped in the fridge.