The first and most important rule to keeping your produce fresh is to store it properly. Here are some tips from our kitchen to yours:
Bunched Greens (Kale, Collards, Bok Choi, Dandelion Greens, etc): If your bunched greens seem wilted upon coming home from market, snip off 1/4 inch of the stem and place them in a glass of water to recharge. After they perk back up, store them in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Salad Greens (Lettuce, Arugula, etc): Store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator. If greens are wilted after coming home from market, we recommend that you recharge them in a bowl/sink of cool water for about 5 minutes and spin them or pat them dry, before putting them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Basil: If you’ve ever experienced basil blackening after a day in the refrigerator, you know that this warm weather crop is extremely sensitive to the cold. At the farm, we put paper towels inside the basil boxes to absorb excess water, and then wrap the entire box in a blanket to keep it insulated in the refrigerator. In our home kitchen, we usually just leave the basil out on the counter (out of direct sunlight) and try to use it as quickly as possible. We recommend either method for keeping your basil from blackening, but generally tell people to “use it or lose it”.
Root Vegetables (Turnips, Beets, Carrots, etc): Store roots whole in a plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer. If greens are attached to your root veggies, remove them and store separately in plastic bags.
Broccoli: Keep in a loose fitting plastic bag in the refrigerator. Broccoli continues to “breathe” after harvest, so don’t wrap too tightly. It should keep for over a week, but is freshest within the first few days.
Cabbage: Store cabbage in the refrigerator, in a loose fitting plastic bag. When outer leaves become limp simply peel them away. Once cut into, cabbage should be sealed in a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Chinese Cabbage is more tender than regular cabbage, and should be stored in a plastic bag.
Cucumbers: Keep cucumbers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be kept at 50 degrees, which is warmer than most refrigerators, and cooler than most kitchens. Some people wrap eggplant in a towel and store in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.
Fennel: Cut off stalks where they emerge from the bulb and store bulb in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin.
Kohlrabi: Cut off stalks where they emerge from the bulb, store bulb in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin.
Leeks: Loosely wrapped in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator; leeks should keep for at least several weeks.
Onions: Cured onions will keep for several weeks stored in a dark, dry, well ventilated spot.
Potatoes: There are two schools of thought on potato storage. One is that refrigeration should be avoided because temperatures in the mid 30’s will convert some of the starches in the potato into sugars. The other side of the argument is that keeping potatoes in the fridge keeps them from sprouting and greatly slows greening, both of which produce mild toxins that are unhealthy to consume. Our feelings: for short term storage (a week or less) it’s fine to keep potatoes in a cool, dark spot in the kitchen if you are concerned about maximum starch, but for ease and convenience most of our potatoes go straight to the refrigerator, where they are stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
Summer Squash and Zucchini: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin, or in a plastic container lined with a kitchen towel.
Snap Peas: Although snap peas will keep for a week or more in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, the begin to lose their sweetness after a few days, so it’s best to use them quickly.
Winter Squash: Winter squash and pumpkins like to be kept in a cool dry spot, the preferred storage is 50 degrees and very low humidity – difficult to duplicate in most houses. The refrigerator is not a good choice, as it is too humid and cold. The best option is to keep your squash in a cool, dry and well ventilated spot in your house. They should keep for a month or more, but if you start seeing deteriorating exteriors, cut the squash open and use what you can salvage before it’s too late.