Veggie Storage Basics
With a few basic tools and tricks, veggie stay fresh longer! As Farmer Greg says, most of veggie storage is putting the veggies in a bag that has some airflow (not a closed Zip Lock) in your fridge. Effective veggie storage keeps your veggies fresh AND easily accessible in the coming busy week.
Danger Zone Veggies
Danger Zone veggies are all the leafy greens: lettuces, chard, kale, beet greens, arugula (especially arugula!), etc. These are the veggies that will break down faster than any other. They don't have a protective skin, like a beet or a carrot, so they lose their moisture fast and wilt.
If your greens have wilted, but not started to blacken, cutting the bottom inch or so from some wilted greens and putting them in water (as you would flowers) will often revive them.
The veggies with thicker skin last longer (carrots, kohlrabi, beets, these will last several weeks to a month in your fridge. I have kept carrots in my fridge from October - February).
So if you do one thing when you come home with your veggies, do this: put the danger zone veggies in a bag in the fridge.
What bag, you ask?
I'm so glad you did!
There are a few types. My favorite is just what I've picked up from the grocery: your standard veggie storage bag. Thin skinned, open topped. These are ideal for danger zone veggies that need a little air, but not too much. So I put the greens in, twist the bag, and put in the fridge.
My CSA friend Corrinna swears by (and even goes as far as gives her new customers two each) green bags. They somehow absorb the ethylene gas your veggies release as they decompose. This keeps them fresher longer. I have never tried these, or looked into how the process works (i.e. is it nontoxic?) but I'm guessing they are harmless. I am thinking about trying an experiment. Comment on this post if you want a few bags to try with me!
If you feel you would like some perforations in your bags, cut holes in your bags! Really. No need to purchase anything.
Cut the tops
Another important step to putting away veggies is cutting the tops off. This applies to beets/beet greens, kohlrabi/kohlrabi greens, carrots/carrot tops, mini onions/onion greens (not scallions) - anything that has greens on top and a root attached should be stored separately. Even after they are picked, the greens keep sucking moisture (there's a theme here!) and other energy from the root so you end up with wrinkled carrots/beets, etc., by week's end.
If you don't want to keep the carrot tops, beet greens, or onion tops don't throw them away! They make delicious stock. I keep a zip lock or two of veg cuttings (carrot tops, onion skins, garlic skins -- anything that is mold and dirt free) and throw them in with some chicken/beef/pork bones for stock/broth.
One of the simplest things you can do is keep a white magnetic white board or paper with your veggies listed. That way you don't find that puddle in the back of the fridge that used to be a cuke.
List all of it on your paper/board when you load the fridge.
Circle the danger zone veggies.
And cross off the veggies when you've used them! Yes, it is VERY satisfying.
A lot of herbs do just fine in water on your counter. Basil will turn black in the fridge, but other herbs are happy there, too.
I have an herb keeper (a gift), but you can make one at home without spending $20. A large mason jar, a little water, and some cheese cloth or a perforated top will do the same thing.
Thanks for reading. If you have tips feel free to chime in with a comment!