We all know it is important to get at least five servings of veggies per day, but how can you keep produce fresh longer? This is a special question for those of us with vegetable gardens. When veggies produce, they produce well. How can you extend vegetable shelf life so that you aren’t wasting what you grew? Keep reading for our tips on how to keep your vegetables fresh for longer.
How to Keep Your Vegetables Fresh in the Refrigerator
If you have ever grown a vegetable garden, you understand the battle to get veggies processed in some manner while eating as much fresh from the beds as possible. Avoiding waste and enjoying the seasonal bounty is one of the summer’s delights, but you need some tips on keeping veggies longer. Refrigeration is key to this effort but so are humidity, containers, companions, and other factors.
Most of us keep our vegetables in refrigerator crisper drawers. These may have controls on them in fancier, newer models that will enhance crispness and lasting ability in fruits and vegetables. However, even if you have an old refrigerator, you can harvest the benefits of a crisper.
Use the vents to remove excess humidity which can cause some food to spoil more quickly. An open vent will also allow ethylene gas to escape which hastens the ripening of some foods. In a closed position, the vent increases humidity which is good for leafy vegetables.
How to Extend Vegetable Shelf Life of Specific Varieties
Onions, potatoes, and other root crops need special attention. To keep produce fresh longer, you may put these items in the refrigerator or a cool dark place. These types of items will take up room in the fridge that would be better used by more tender veggies.
Avoid placing root crops near a heat source. They prefer temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 C.). Tomatoes may need to finish ripening. Keep them on the counter until ripe and then place them in the fridge. Items like broccoli or asparagus will be fresher if the cut ends are placed in water in the refrigerator.
Keeping Veggies Longer with a Little Preparation
How you store the vegetable will also affect how long it lasts. Buying the freshest produce possible from a farmer’s market will ensure a longer shelf life. Other tips include:
- Keep most produce in a clean plastic bag or wrap in a clean towel placed in the crisper.
- Remove leafy tops that pull moisture from the food.
- Dry most vegetables before placing in veggie drawers.
- For foods in cool, dark storage, protect from damage in boxes filled with clean insulating material.
- Store fruits separate from vegetables to avoid ethylene contamination which can send veggies “off” quickly.
Simple steps like these can keep veggies fresh for longer but don’t delay eating them! Corn should be eaten within a few days to preserve the sugars. Green beans lose their snap in just a few days. Greens, cucumbers, and broccoli should be used within a week.
If you have waited too long and your produce is limp and listless, you can revive many varieties with an ice bath that will bring them back to life.