Storing Veggies Basics (& what to do when you've got a wilted situation)
The beginning of CSA farm share is full of greens. Asian greens, lettuce, spinach. . . Spicy, mild, sweet. This is because greens grow so well in cold climates. They are the first ready to harvest here in the northern climbs of Montana.
That said, I often feel overwhelmed with a lot of greens: they are what we call danger zone veggies — they are the ones you are supposed to use first because they wilt and fade quickly.
Last night it only took a few hours for my leafy lettuce to wilt. I squished my lettuce into the fridge, naked and without a drawer to hide in. It was one of those narrow windows between getting home from veggie pickup, changing, snuggling a sad child who did not want me to go out, meeting the babysitter and scooting out the door. By the time I got home, that lettuce was droopy.
I have been doing this for how long, 10 years? And I still have wilty lettuce on the first pickup. And you know what, that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Forgive, move on.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some curse words expressed at the time.
This is a great opportunity to talk about storage of veg and revival techniques for pulling up those wilting soldiers. It is also the time to tell you about our greens challenge that will get your through.
We’re doing a greens challenge on our CSA farm share Facebook posse.
We’re challenging you to put your greens in all sorts of places. . .breakfast, smoothies, alfresco lunches, dessert! Starting Wednesday. More details coming. . .
Short Term Storage:
Plastic bags are your friends. I hate to say it, because, well, plastic. But the reusable storage bags don’t keep moisture in like plastic does. That said, you can reuse your plastic bags.
If you do go the reusable cloth route, maybe put a clean wet rag in to keep the moisture up.
We handed out some ethylene-absorbing bags at first pickup. Plastic bags allow your veggies to retain their moisture in the drying environment of the fridge. Ethylene absorbing bags offer an additional boon to freshness by absorbing the gas that a veggie releases as it starts to break down, a gas that expedites the veggie breaking down.
If you want more, I recommend Peak Fresh produce bags. They are made in the USA and certified organic. And I don’t get any kickbacks for saying this.
Cut it loose!
If you have beets, radishes, carrots, any root and green top, you want to cut them apart before you store them. The root will keep sucking energy and moisture from the green until it wilts and dies. Keep that from happening with a good pair of scissors.
When your greens look like mine. . . It is time to re-hydrate. For most veggies you can get much of their life back.
For lettuce, I cut off the ends and submerge them in water like a bouquet. You also could put them in a bowl of cool water. I put a plastic bag around the top and put it in the fridge for a few hours, maybe overnight. They look much more lively after this treatment.
You can also do this with many things — carrots, asparagus, herbs. . .
What do you struggle with? What has worked for you? We love hearing from our farm share members! Some of you have been doing this for over 20 years!