Vegetables are a crucial part of our daily diets. The main thing that turns people off about fresh vegetables, even to the point of making them resistant to buying them, is how quickly most produce we purchase, seems to perish. There are ways through which one can extend the life of fresh produce, and there are ways through which it is possible to make the vegetables last two or three times as long as one might have thought.
Here are some basic tips that will help ensure vegetables stay fresh for longer.
WASH WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO USE –
When you take vegetables out of the refrigerator, never wash more than what you intend to use right away. Washing vegetables before you plan to refrigerate them again will only cause them to get mushy and soggy in the refrigerator or go bad.
KEEP VEGETABLES AWAY FROM APPLES –
The most important thing that anyone should know when it comes to storing vegetables is that they should never store any kind of vegetable in the same crisper that apples are kept in. Apples give off ethylene gas and the ethylene gases are one of the main reasons why vegetables spoil so quickly.
MAKE SURE LETTUCE IS DRY –
One of the easiest and most important things that we can do to ensure that our lettuce doesn’t get all soggy and rotten is to put it in a colander after bringing it home from the store. Put it in the colander upside down. This will allow the water to drain off.
Grocery stores routinely spray vegetables with water to keep them fresher. Wet vegetables don’t keep well in the refrigerator, so allowing the lettuce to dry will definitely add to its longevity in the refrigerator. Leave the lettuce in the colander until all of the water has dripped off of it.
Green bags, or less expensive versions of the green bags are helpful because they keep the ethylene gases away from the produce. Before putting the lettuce in the bag, wrap it well in an absorbent towel because that will soak up any additional water. Keep the lettuce wrapped in a towel to keep the wetness away from the bag. Secure the bag closed by using a clip of some sort.
Home grown lettuce should be not be picked in quantities. It’s best not to pick more than what can be used at one time. If the lettuce needs to be stored briefly, wash it well and then wrap it in a towel. Alternatively, there are cotton bags that can be purchased for salad greens. They are nice because they can be washed and reused multiple times.
Put the lettuce in the bag and shake the bag so that as much water leaves the lettuce as possible. The bag will still be damp, but that’s okay. The dampness of the bag will keep the lettuce from wilting, something that is extremely problematic with home grown lettuce.
MAKE SURE OTHER VEGETABLES ARE ALSO DRY –
All vegetables should be dry before they are put into the refrigerator. Never wash produce before putting it in the refrigerator. Washing it will make it spoil much faster.
Allow all vegetables that have been sprayed with water to air dry before putting them in the refrigerator.
Remove all vegetables that are packaged in bags from the bags they came in. These bags will hold water, especially if the vegetables were sprayed in the store. Carrots and radishes tend to be wetter than other vegetables. Wrap the vegetables in a towel before storing them in bags. Glad Fresh Protect bags are also effective at keeping smaller quantities of vegetables fresh. If you don’t want to purchase bags, take extra produce bags while you are at the grocery store. They will work in a pinch.
Rubbermaid has come out with some new containers that are designed for fruits and vegetables. They come with a rack that keeps the vegetables off the bottom. Tupperware made some containers they called “Fridge Smart.” They are also very useful. They are made with air valves that allow you to keep all air out, or allow some air in. If you don’t have a refrigerator with enough room to keep fruits and vegetables separated, these containers are idea.
Check on the produce every couple of days. It is common for moisture to build up in the storage bags, especially in vegetables that have a high moisture content anyway. Make sure to remove any moisture that accumulates.
Whenever using vegetables from the bags, be sure that before returning the bag to the refrigerator, the vegetables are not wet, and that all of the air is let out of the bag before closing it. We are all much more likely to eat our vegetables when what we take out of the refrigerator is not all soggy or wilted. Keeping vegetables fresh for any period of time is something we all need to learn how to do.
WATCH REFRIGERATOR TEMPERATURES
Keep an eye on the temperature in the refrigerator. If it gets too cold, vegetables can freeze, Frozen lettuce or radishes can’t be salvaged.
By protecting the produce in such a way as to keep everything fresh for more than a week, we can be assured of finding great looking and great tasting produce when we want it, and that in turn will make all of us feel more willing to buy fresh produce on a regular basis. The more often we purchase it, the more vegetables we are going to get in our daily diets, and that’s something that will be beneficial to the health of each of us.