How to keep your veggies fresh longer
Storing Veggies for Freshness
How to Store Potatoes
Keeping Produce Fresh
As we become a nation of supermarkets that package veggies in family of ten packs, there is a need for information on how to store veggies in quantities where they remain, at least, somewhat fresh.
Storing Past Prime Veggies
Any fruit that has gone slightly past prime in the fruit bowl at home (and is being snubbed by the kids) can be blended to make smoothies. Any sort of juice can be added for the liquid, along with yogurt, frozen fruit, or anything else you think would taste good. These fruit shakes can be kept up to two days in the fridge and are a good fast breakfast or after-school snack.
It's no bargain to buy large packages of vegetables if you cannot use them when they are fresh and have the most nutrients. However, here are some ideas for storing them and retaining freshness as much as possible.
- Do not wash until ready to eat.
- Remove from plastic packaging that may retain moisture that will rot veggies. Store in vegetable compartment in refrigerator, except for tomatoes, which should be left at room temperature for best taste.
- Wash, cut and freeze some of the veggies for future use. Most do not even need blanching. Most will freeze well, but some cannot be frozen.
- Make veggie-based meals rather than meat-centered meals. One easy favorite of mine is wilted greens (spinach, kale, turnip greens, etc.) with onion, garlic, and chickpeas or lentils. Serve over rice or noodles or by itself with hearty bread.
- Eat veggies at least twice a day, lunch and dinner, or tuck them into omelets for breakfast.
- You can pickle some vegetables, including green tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and peppers. It's easiest to use brine leftover from commercial pickles. Store in refrigerator.
Storing Farmer's Market Veggies
A few years ago, a friend gave me a set of FridgeSmart® containers from Tupperware. They have ridged bottoms and two "buttons" you push to regulate the airflow for different types of veggies. You can purchase them from their website. They are not cheap, but they have held up even through dishwashing and still look brand new. Most importantly, they have made my veggies last days and sometimes even weeks longer. They are worth every penny you'll save in veggie spoilage. (By the way, I do not sell Tupperware, and I'm quite a tightwad.)
Also, if you can buy from a local farm or farmer's market, veggies will last up to several weeks, rather than days, in the refrigerator. They come to you fresh rather than sitting in warehouses, trucks, and grocery stores for extended periods of time.
Babette in CO
Vacuum Seal Veggies for Storage
I got one of those vacuum food sealers last year, and I use it for nearly everything. We buy the large bags of pre-mixed salad. I divide it when I get home and vacuum seal it. Yes, it does look pretty scrunched up in the bag, but when you open it, it fluffs back up, and the lettuce is still crisp. It keeps it fresh about a week longer than just storing it in a resealable bag, even with a paper towel.
I am so pleased with it that I have now gotten into the habit of dividing and vacuum sealing nearly all the produce when I get home from the supermarket. I could go on forever about how many bags of salad mix I used to have to toss out, how many onions that I'd let go bad on the counter, how many bulbs of garlic were wasted, etc., but that doesn't happen any more
Also, there are less expensive bags available. You don't have to buy the name brand bags for your particular sealer. Wal-Mart sells generic bags for vacuum sealers that work the same, but they are much cheaper.
Cheryl in Dallas, TX
Paper Towel Helps Stored Veggies
I admit to buying pre-packaged salad mixes and spinach leaves sometimes when they're on sale. We like the convenience, but we didn't like the way the greens would start wilting and getting soggy after only a few days. We discovered that we could keep them fresh three times longer by simply placing a couple of paper towels in the bag after it was opened. The towels soak up the excess moisture that was causing the greens to deteriorate.
We're able to keep celery crisp a lot longer simply by wrapping a wet paper towel around the bottom when we put it back into its bag. Try it. You'll be amazed at the difference.
For celery, wash, drain, trim off ends, and wrap in aluminum foil. It'll keep for weeks. If stored for an extended time, you may have to trim the edge off. Do not freeze.
Tracy in Rochester, MN
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