Monday, August 2, 2010

Produce storage tips

Here are some tips to ensure you are getting the best out of your produce:

General Tips:
 Washing: Wash ALL fruits & vegetables, JUST before eating (not ahead of time), including those with rind you don’t eat – melons, oranges,etc. You can contaminate the flesh by cutting through rind into flesh. Don’t use soaps/detergents: many pesticides are water soluble and will be removed with drinking water. Produce is porous and can absorb soaps.
 Storing: Store most produce in crisper of refrigerator (higher humidity extends shelf life). Store fruits separately from vegetables, due to naturally producing ethylene gas that ripens/matures fruits and can adversely affect vegs.
 Ethylene Gas: Some fruits continue to ripen after harvested, by producing ethylene gas. These include bananas, apples, avocados, peaches, plums, nectarines and tomatoes. In general, keep these away from other vegs, as they will cause them to age/deteriorate faster.
For ex: Ethylene gas has the following adverse effect on these vegs:
o Asparagus: makes it tough
o Broccoli: turns florettes yellow
o Eggplant: softens/causes “pitting” (brown spots on skin)
o Green Beans: makes them tough/causes pitting
o Lettuce: wilts
o Cucumbers/Summer Squash (zucchini): Softens
o Watermelon: Makes flesh mealy
o Flowers: Wilts them!
Ripening: To ripen fruits quickly, put ethylene producing fruit (yellow banana, apple) in PAPER bag (not plastic) with item you want to ripen for a day or more.
> Cooking: Vitamins are extracted from vegs into cooking water. Steaming is ideal. If going to cook in liquid, use broth instead that you can consume vitamin rich liquid with vegs. ALSO – Vitamins are lost after about 1 ½ hours of cooking. So the vegs in soup/stew/pot roasts are worthless if left in longer than that!!

Specific Produce Tips: (Standard procedure is refrigerating in crisper – except counter items such as bananas, avocados, tomatoes, pineapples, melons uncut)

> Asparagus: Store cut ends upright in water or wrap ends in wet paper towel, then in plastic.
> Apples: Will last 10X longer if refrigerated, unbruised – up to 3 months.
> Potatoes: Remove any green skin – it’s solanine – and indicates prolonged exposure to light, is bitter and often toxic.
> Carrots: Trim off green ends before storing – store in plastic bag refrigerated.
> Celery: Sprinkle with water, store in plastic container refrigerated.
> Corn: Highly perishable, refrigerate and eat ASAP.
> Cucumbers: Store in plastic bag refrigerated
> Garlic & Onions: Cool, dry, well ventilated place – NOT in plastic bag.
> Mushrooms: Store in original container or PAPER bag, not plastic.
> Peppers: Store in plastic bag, refrigerated.
> Heirloom tomatoes: these beauties deserve a blog posting all their own. Especially the history of some of the tomatoes that our House in the Woods Farm CSA grows - some seeds date back to the revolutionary war! To get the most of these precious gems, eat them quickly! Do not, under penalty of law, refrigerate them! The cold air sucks up their fresh-from-the-garden earthy flavor and makes them mealy. Their skins are delicate, so handle with care. Generally they'll last up to 3 days, stored at room temperature on the counter. Remember tomatoes give off ethylene gas as do bananas, so don't keep these next to each other on the counter or you'll have a ripe-fest on your hands! I keep mine gently wrapped in the tissue paper that I put them in when I pick them up from the farm, resting gently in the open shoe box I use to transport them. They get so much love and attention!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about storing your produce.

Your CSA Gourmet


  1. Who knew there were so many different ideal ways to store fruits and veggies? The effects of ethylene gas on each veggie were fascinating! I always knew about the ripening effect, but I never knew about the others. No more storing cucumbers and tomatoes together on the counter for me! :) Thanks!

  2. I have more peaches then I can eat in a timely fashion. I love smoothies though, how do I cut and freeze peaches and other stuff the right way for smoothies all year?

  3. This is my first time using a storage service and I'd definitely recommend them if you need a place! There were several others in the area, but when I saw the reviews online and made several calls to different companies, I decided to go with them.