Each week, the vendors at Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow will be 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 your produce? 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, and choose cloth, beeswax wraps, or other plastic alternatives when you can.
- 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, stand the asparagus stalks upright in a jar of water and place it in the fridge.
Beans are your best friend when it comes to storage. Simply keep the beans in a perforated bag and they will stay fresh.
Just the bulbs can be stored in bags or wraps 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’s recommended to remove those before storing the bulb. Prepare these just like greens 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 it all, store the remaining pepper in a sealed container with the stem and seeds still attached if possible.
Eat the ripest berries first (which shouldn’t be hard because who doesn’t eat half the pint on the way home anyway). Berries are best if eaten within one week, but to extend freshness, put a paper towel on the bottom and top of the berries in their container to absorb any extra moisture. And a pro tip, don’t wash the berries before storing! Wait to do this until you are ready to enjoy them.
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 however, wrap the remainder of it or place it in a container 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. For optimal freshness it’s best to wrap the bottom of the green onions in a damp paper towel before storing them in the fridge.
Kale does well with colder temperatures, so wrapping the bunch in bags and storing it in the crisper drawer is your best bet.
Similar to kale, lettuce is best stored in 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. Don’t place peaches in the fridge before they’re ripe though!
ASAP is the motto when it comes to peas. If you aren’t planning on eating them the day you buy them, be sure to refrigerate them as soon as you get home from the market. Fun fact, every six hours, half of the sugar content of peas turns to starch. Keep peas stored in a bag or container at low temperatures and wait to shell peas until you’re 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 bag with the greens removed and you are good to go.
A common theme so far, storing rhubarb in a wrap or bag 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 bag to help absorb extra moisture.
Keep tomatoes unwashed, at room temperature, on a counter away from direct sunlight. And for those of us who can’t eat an entire tomato at once (those heirlooms are enormous sometimes!), cover the cut side with plastic wrap or beeswax tightly and loosely wrap the uncut sides of the tomato. Then put the tomato cut side down on a small plate at room temperature for up to two days.
Lastly, if you’ve ever heard that some fruits and vegetables don’t play well with others when being stored, that’s true! Some fruits and vegetables emit higher levels of ethylene and can cause other produce around them to overripen. Check out this handy guide if you’re concerned your produce is sabotaging each other.