Secrets to Maximizing the Shelf Life of Your Vegetables
It's common knowledge that making the most of your vegetables means using them at their freshest, but if you're buying in bulk or only cooking for a few people, using them quickly can be harder than it seems. For those of you who want your food to last and are tired of throwing out wilting or rotten produce, here are a few useful tips to keeping your various vegetables in their best conditions.
General Storage Tips
- Most of the vegetables mentioned below need to be refrigerated between 32-36 degrees Fahrenheit (0-2 degrees Celsius). Anything over 40 degrees is usually too warm.
- Don't over stock your refrigerator - this reduces cold air circulation.
- Don't store apples near your unwrapped fruits and vegetables. Apples release ethylene gases that accelerate ripening in other fruits and veggies.
- Exposure to oxygen accelerates ripening and decomposition. Keeping your veggies in air-tight containers will, in many cases, lengthen their life spans.
Specific Storage Tips
- Artichokes: Refrigerated whole and unwashed, they should last 2 weeks.
- Asparagus: Store them upright in a sealed plastic bag with either a damp towel wrapped around their base or with an inch of water. They'll be fresh for 3-4 days.
- Avocado: Store these on the counter until they're ripe (when the skin has a little bit of give at a gentle touch), at which point, refrigerate them.
- Beets: The beets and their greens should be stored separately. Cut off the greens about an inch above the crown and store them in separate plastic bags. The beets should last about a week.
- Broccoli/Cauliflower: Sprinkle them with water and refrigerate them in a sealed plastic bag. They'll thrive for 3-5 days.
- Corn: Keep them in the husk and refrigerate them; they should last for 2 days.
- Cucumbers: Put them in the crisper or in a sealed plastic bag.
- Leafy Greens: Refrigerate unwashed.
- Herbs: Store them in an airtight container in the fridge with a damp paper towel on top and bottom and they'll stay fresh for 7-10 days.
- Mushrooms: Put them in a paper bag in the fridge or on a tray covered with a damp towel and they'll stay fresh for 2-3 days.
- Potatoes: Keep them in a cool, dark place like the pantry or a cellar.
- Tomatoes: Ripen them on the counter until they're fully red, at which point you should refrigerate them stem-side down. They'll stay fresh for 2-3 days.