Modern savvy customers – especially younger diners – are seeking out fresher, healthier food and restaurant establishments that offer customizable, healthful menu options. They look to foods that are fresh and tasty but also rich in vitamins and minerals to support peak performance.
“The “Y” Generation is the largest influencer in the new trend of healthy and hyper-conscious eating. In fact, nearly 50% of Gen Y-ers self-identify as “foodies.” It’s no wonder that many colleges are now surrounded by grocery stores, juice bars and chain restaurants that offer healthier alternatives. These places usually include options such as salad bars, hot meal options and sandwich stations for on-the-go, busy customers. Some also offer organic, non-GMO and local grown produce to satisfy their customers’ healthy dining needs. Their customer base cares not only about food taste and appearance, but also origination and nutritional density.
As a foodservice operator, sourcing healthful options from your suppliers is just one component. Storing these items properly to help keep these foods as fresh as possible and still retain nutrients adds another level of responsibility to the mix.
Nutrients in fruits and vegetables break down from the time they’re harvested to the time they’re consumed. This nutrient loss can be minimized by proper storage or prepping. The following are steps that foodservice operators can put into practice to help preserve freshness and maintain fruit’s and vegetables’ vitamin and mineral content.
Ways to Help Retain Freshness and Nutrients in Produce
- Protect fruits and vegetables from the ravages of time and temperature by ordering fresh produce as often as practical, and by purchasing according to available storage space.
- Store produce in a walk-in cooler to prolong shelf life and stall the spoilage process.
- Use dedicated food rotation labels to maintain FIFO (first in, first out) storage and handling.
- Don’t wash most produce before storage, since moisture often promotes mold growth and accelerates ripening. Wait to wash fruits and vegetables until ready to prep them.
- Don’t slice vegetables too far ahead, and remember to store them intact.
- Cut produce that needs to be cooked longer into larger pieces, exposing fewer surfaces from which vitamins can be lost.
- Keep refrigerators and coolers at 41° degrees Fahrenheit or below, monitoring thermometers in the warmest and coolest spaces of the cooler.
- Use a proper lid on all food storage containers.
Seal In Nutrients
An effective method of keeping food fresh and retaining essential nutrients during storage is to control the food’s environment as much as possible by keeping out air, additional moisture and microbial cross-contamination. This method requires a lid that seals onto a storage container, such as the Cambro Seal Cover. Smart storage processes do far more than just slow down the spoiling process. They also delay the breakdown of vitamins, minerals and enzymes so the fruits and vegetables you are serving help your customers perform optimally, achieve daily nutritional requirements, enhance immunity and also support them in maintaining a balanced diet.
The Experts Weigh In
Third party laboratory testing has shown that when used properly with a Cambro Food Pan, Cambro Seal Covers can extend the shelf life of produce by two to three days beyond storage with disposable wraps, foils or no cover at all.
Want to see for yourself? Ask your Cambro rep for a copy of our third-party shelf life testing results and a free product sample. Try the test with fresh strawberries or spinach and ensure that everything you serve is packed with flavor, freshness and peak nutritional value.