Produce Storage 101
Last week we talked a little bit about how you can make a few easy moves toward a zero-waste fridge – we know that produce storage is a big part of that. Get your glass jars and cloth bags out! We’ve got some food biz to take care of. Grab any bowls and beeswax wraps you have as well for foods you want to cut up and prepare in advance.
Tackle food waste with a few food storage tips and tricks:
Onions and potatoes should live in separate spots. Because onions produce ethylene gas and they’ll cause the potatoes to spoil faster, this is one of our top tips. Keep potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes together in a cool, dark area.
Garlic belongs on the counter inside a basket or bowl, or in a cool dark place. Garlic can make friends with onions, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes.If any of these get cut up and not used, wrap them up with beeswax wraps.
Store tomatoes on your countertop, not in the fridge.
Cucumbers can be stored on the counter for a few days alone - or choose to wrap it up in a cloth bag (whole cucumber). If the cucumber is already cut, store it in a glass, airtight container.
Carrots and celery must be submerged in water. If you forget to do this and your carrots get soft, you can revitalize them in a bowl of water. Always cut the tops of carrots to use into a pesto or a garnish as they are full of vitamin C. Cutting the tops off of the carrots will also keep them firm for longer, and will avoid drawing moisture from the root. Radishes do really well in water too.
Beets can be stored in the crisper in a vejibag or damp tea towel. Beetroot leaves can be stored on the counter in a glass jar with water, or in a damp tea towel like your other greens.
Store your herbs upright with the stems in a glass jar with water. Anything with stems will most likely do well in a jar of water, like swiss chard or green onion for example.
The exception to the rule for herbs in the fridge is Basil, as it’s best at room temperature in water. Parsley is also good on the counter for up to two weeks.
Avocados should be stored on the counter until ripe, then refrigerated. Avocados are ripe when soft and the top flips off and you will see that beautiful green colour peak through. If you bought a bag full and don’t want them to ripen all at once, you can store half of them in the fridge to stall the process.
Asparagus should be stored upright in a jar of water that covers the roots.
Store your greens in the crisper. Wrap greens in towels, or invest in a veggie bag, and spray them with water to keep their moisture - unless you've just washed them! Then just wrap ‘em up! When your kale goes wilty, you can douse them in cold water to revive them. In the past I’ve filled up a vase and placed my kale on the table like a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
Broccoli and cauliflower can also be stored in a towel to absorb extra moisture, or in reusable produce bags.
Citrus is best kept in fridge, otherwise they will dry out. You can keep your apples and citrus together in the crisper. You may want to remove from fridge before using. Apples can become soft on the counter, so I like to place mine in the fridge as soon as I get them home.
Berries are expensive to waste. You can try a 1:3 vinegar/water bath to extend the life of your berries and to kill off mold. Discard any berries that already have mold, combine one 1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of cold water, swish around for about a minute drain and rinse. Once that is done place your berries in a glass bowl, or a Pyrex container with a tea towel layered on the bottom to absorb excess water. Use the lid, but don’t seal it - simply place it on top.
Ginger is best stored in the fridge in a reusable bag.
Store mushrooms in paper or cloth bag in the fridge.
Wash bell peppers right before eating, and store in the crisper in a cloth or vejibag.
Zucchini is fine for a couple days on the counter.
Cabbage and cauliflower can be stored in the crisper. Once you’ve cut into them, wrap them in a beeswax wrap or tea towel.
Remember, avoid putting anything on the fridge door that needs to be chill because the temperature fluctuates the most on the door.
Try to keep your fruits and veggies in separate crispers - most fruits emit ethylene gas that can cause veggies to spoil quickly.
Set your humidity settings in fridge. Fruit at a low humidity and veg at high.
Low humidity: things that spoil fast.
High humidity: things that wilt quick.
Have leftovers? Beeswax wraps are a safe alternative for storing fruits and veg that are already cut up. Clingwrap contains phthalates and are not kind to our planet, so let's ban that from our home.
Next week, we will have a special friend adding a simple recipe she came up with for her and her little one.
If you have any tips to add, leave a note in the comments.