Each week, the vendors at Countryside Farmers’ Markets are harvesting more and more beautiful produce. It’s exciting! With this excitement, we might find ourselves buying a lot, maybe more than we can eat. So what’s the best way to preserve the freshness and nutritive value of these produce purchases? Check out the list below:
- Store fruits and vegetables separately. As fruits ripen, they produce ethylene gas, which can decrease the storage life of vegetables.
- Store the produce that goes bad the quickest towards the front of the fridge. This way, you will see it every time you open the fridge and you are more likely to remember to eat it before it goes bad.
- Puncture holes in plastic bags to provide air flow.
- If you aren’t going to eat something within 1-2 weeks after purchasing, put it in the freezer!
The flavor of asparagus lessens with extended storage time, so the sooner you eat them, the better. For best results, wrap the bottom of the asparagus stalks in a damp paper towel and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Beans are your best friend when it comes to storage. Simply keep the beans in a perforated plastic bag and they will stay fresh.
Just the bulbs can be stored in plastic bags in the coldest part of the refrigerator and will keep fairly well. The greens, however, will go much quicker than the beet itself, so it is recommended to remove those before storing the bulb and eat them soon after purchasing.
Store in the refrigerator, unwashed, after purchase. Green peppers will stay longer than the other colors, so plan your meals accordingly. If you cut into a pepper and do not eat the entire thing, store the remaining pepper in a sealed container with the stem and seeds still attached, if possible.
Eat the ripest berries first- this way the remaining berries will last longer in your refrigerator. Berries are best if eaten within 1 week, but to extend freshness, put a paper towel on the bottom and top of the berries to absorb any extra moisture. Also, do not wash the berries before storing. Wait to do this until you are ready to eat.
Broccoli will only last a few days in the refrigerator. Loosely wrap the broccoli in a damp paper towel. Broccoli likes to breathe, so avoid storing in a closed container or bag.
Refrigeration helps the corn retain its sugar and nutrient content. Keep the uncooked corn in their husks until you are ready to cook to retain moisture. But as a rule of thumb, the sooner you eat it, the better.
Whole cucumbers can be stored in the crisper drawer without any special instructions. Once the cucumber is cut into, wrap the remainder of it in plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss.
While green onions will do okay if left on the countertop, storing them in the refrigerator will reduce the risk of mold growth and extend freshness. Similar to storing asparagus, for optimal freshness it’s best to wrap the bottom of the green onions in a damp paper towel before storing in the fridge.
Kale does well with colder temperatures, so wrapping the bunch in plastic and storing it in the crisper drawer is your best bet.
Similar to kale, lettuce is best stored in plastic bags in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Iceberg lettuce tends to last the longest, while butterheads tend to have the least storage life.
Keep peaches in a closed paper bag on your countertop for a few days. Once ripe, peaches can be moved to the refrigerator. Do not place in the fridge before ripe.
ASAP is the motto when it comes to peas. If you are not planning on eating them the day you buy them, be sure to refrigerate them as soon as you get home from the market. Every 6 hours, half of the sugar content of peas turns to starch. Keep stored in a plastic bag at low temperatures, and wait to shell peas until you are ready to eat.
Radishes are one of those vegetables that you could forget about in the back of your refrigerator and they would probably still be good. Keep them in a plastic bag with the greens removed and you are good to go.
A common theme so far, storing rhubarb in plastic wrap in your crisper drawer is the best option. To store even longer, both cooked and raw rhubarb freeze well.
Greens like spinach tend to get “slimy” after a few days in the refrigerator when left in plastic bags by themselves. Try adding a few paper towels around the leaves in the plastic bag to help absorb extra moisture.
Keep tomatoes unwashed, at room temperature, on a counter away from direct sunlight.