Saturday, July 28, 2012

Storing vegetables

Receiving just-picked vegetables is exciting - and enjoying as much as you can on the day of harvest is the best way to use them. But we also have to store some. Here's a how-to on the best way to store farm-fresh produce.

In general, all produce stores better when dry. Wetness encourages decay. That said, we cold-water-rinse all leafy greens after we harvest them to prevent wilting. So when you receive them and they are wet, drying them before storage is important. All other vegetables will do best if you do NOT wash them before storage.

Basil, cilantro, parsley: If the leaves are wet, dry them (wet leaves turn black easily). Fill a glass with cold water, remove the rubber band holding the bunch together and place the bunch in the water (as you would cut flowers). Change your water every day. Keep the jar of herbs away from the stove so they stay cool (you can also store them in your refrigerator in a glass of water).

Lettuce: You can store lettuce 2 ways: (1) Spin your lettuce in your salad spinner and store directly in the spinner in your fridge; (2) Spin your lettuce and place in a plastic bag with some breathability (e.g., leave it open, it can have a few holes) and store in your fridge.

Kale, chard, spinach, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, bok choy, tatsoi, arugula, and other greens: Put an inch or so of water in a bowl, vase or cooler and put the stems in as you would cut flowers. Your greens will last the longest with this method. Or, store as lettuce above.

Beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips and other root vegetables: Cut off the greens, leaving less than an inch of stem (the leaves will continue to draw water from the root, making the root soften quickly), and store in your refrigerator. For long-term storage of carrots, beets, turnips and parsnips (but not radishes), see this post on root cellars.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes: Store in a cool, dark place in paper or cardboard (NOT plastic bags) and be sure they are not wet when you store them.

Tomatoes: Store on the counter top, in a bowl, in a basket... anywhere but your refrigerator! Best position is shoulder side down.

Corn: Don't ever store it! Eat it as soon as you get it.

Onions and garlic: Store in a cool, dark place for long-term storage. If you plan on using them in the next few weeks, they can be exposed to light. Store anywhere but your refrigerator!

Chives and scallions: Store as herbs and greens above or in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.

Cucumbers, summer squash, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, fennel, Brussels sprouts, cabbage: All do best if dry and refrigerated.

Winter squash and pumpkins: Store in a cool, dark place (not in your refrigerator).

1 comment:

  1. Really useful information - thanks! Looks like my nieta is trying to store the carrot up her nose!