Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How to Store Vegetables & Fruits


Things are busy around here, but I would like to draw your attention to this very useful poster from UC Davis, on the home (short-term) storage of fruits and vegetables. I'll re-iterate the main points here, including a few indispensable non-Ontario ingredients, and some of my own observations.

Poor storage practises will not only make your produce last for a shorter period of time, but also impair the flavour to a large degree. (Some things, lemons for example, will keep better in the fridge, but lose a lot of flavour).

Mostly, people have a tendency to put things in the refrigerator that really shouldn't be there! Including far too many produce managers, grrr. Most people know not to put onions and potatoes in the fridge, but I would like to draw your attention to the garlic, sweet potatoes and tomatoes! NO NO NO! Unless you like bitter sprouty garlic, hard shrivelled flavourless sweet potatoes, and tasteless sacks of red mush.

Onions and potatoes should be stored between 6°C and 10°C (42°F to 50°F);  winter squash between 10°C to 13°C (50°F to 55°F). Garlic and sweet potatoes should be kept at temperatures ABOVE 13°C (55°F), but still a cool room temperature. Potatoes in particular should be kept in a dark spot to avoid them turning green in spots, but they should all be kept in the dark, in a slightly humid spot but with good air circulation.

Once cut, many of the counter-stored items do have to go into the fridge, so try to avoid having too much of them on hand in the first place. Once refrigerated, those leftovers are almost always going to be better cooked than raw.

For items that need to go into the fridge, they should be kept loosely wrapped in plastic - I like to save those crinkly bread bags that keep bread fresh longer; they work on veggies too! I know there is a trick to keep celery longer, by wrapping it in foil, but I always go through celery so fast I have never tried it. What other tricks and tips do you have for keeping produce in top condition longer?

DO NOT Store in the Fridge:

 * Apples, for less than 7 days
 * Muskmelons (Cantaloupes)
 * Watermelons
 * (Most Tropical Fruit, including Citrus)

 * Basil (keep in a glass of water, like a bouquet)
 * Cucumbers
 * Onions
 * Eggplant
 * Garlic
 * (Ginger)
 * Peppers
 * Potatoes
 * Winter Squash (aka Pumpkins)
 * Sweet Potatoes
 * Tomatoes

RIPEN on the Counter, Then Store in the Fridge When Ripe:

 * (Avocados)
 * Kiwifruit
 * Nectarines
 * Peaches
 * Pears
 * Plums
 * Plumcots
 * (Bananas - I will put very ripe bananas in the fridge for up to 24 hours if I think it will get eaten within that period; the skin will blacken but the fruit will be... okay. Also, they freeze well in their skins for baking.)

NOTE! These should all be stored in the fridge once ripe, but do not let them stay there for long! Use them quickly. 

Store in the FRIDGE:

 * Apples (if not using in 7 days)
 * Apricots
 * Blackberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Blueberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Cherries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Cut fruits
 * Grapes
 * Raspberries (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Strawberries (but use within 24 hours!)

 * Asparagus (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Green Beans (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Beets
 * Belgian Endive
 * Broccoli
 * Brussels Sprouts
 * Cabbage
 * Carrots
 * Cauliflower
 * Celery
 * Cut vegetables
 * Green Onions
 * Herbs (other than Basil)
 * Leafy Greens (such as Arugula, Chard, Kale, & Spinach)
 * Lettuce
 * Mushrooms
 * Parsnips
 * Peas (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Radishes
 * Rutabaga
 * Sprouts (use within a couple of days)
 * Summer Squash (Zucchini)
 * Sweet Corn (but use within 24 hours!)
 * Turnips

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