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Nice Packaging

New packaging could help produce stay fresher longer
New Packaging Helps Keep Produce Fresh
Photo: Tasting Table

Finding limp or rotted produce in the fridge after an overly ambitious trip to the farmers' market is an all too familiar scene. But thanks to a research team from Michigan State University, your produce prospects might be looking up.

At MSU's School of Packaging (which is a thing!) AgBioResearch scientist Eva Almenar and her team are developing packaging that extends the life of produce. The team experimented with packaging onions, which are one of the most commonly bought vegetables. The pre-diced kind typically go bad after only a couple days, so the team experimented with a combination of packaging and sanitization.

Though experiments with packaging and sanitization to keep produce fresher longer aren't new, this is the first study that has used both techniques in tandem. And the approach worked. Precut onions stayed fresh for up to two weeks.

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"Of all the variations that we tested, this one reduced microbial growth, respiration and discoloration, and preserved the desired aroma," Almenar says.

While the study focused on onions, the findings should have implications for all kinds of produce, Almenar adds.

Until the packaging goes mass-market, there are a number of good ways to help your produce stay fresher longer. Wrap leafy greens in paper towels that absorb excess moisture, store mushrooms in a paper bag or in a bowl on top of a paper towel, and never store potatoes and onions near each other. Finally, be mindful when you shop, so you can avoid worrying about prolonging excess produce altogether.

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