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Tips for Food Storage: How to Keep Summer Fruits & Vegetables Fresh

Written by Terra's Kitchen | Fri, Jul 24, '15

 

Summertime, and it is the season for that tasty trip to the farmer's market. Trouble is --- temptation. Everything looks so fresh and delicious, you just have to have it! Suddenly, you find yourself buying twice as much as you need, leaving with your wallet empty. If you've joined a CSA and just arrived home with a box to unload, you know what we're talking about.

Who can resist perfectly picked, ripe peacheas, or gem-sized berries? Then there are the vegetables all ripe for your picking. So, how do you keep fruits and vegetables fresh?

Do you wash them all at once? Put them in fridge or leave them on the counter? Maybe you have a big party and serve them all at once so they don't go bad? No need to make any rash decisions. Terra's tips for food storage will help you crack the code on making them last a bit longer and stay fresh!

Rules of Thumb

Gas Releasers and anti gas fruits and vegetables: Yes, some fruits and veggies are prone to this and give off a gas called ethylene...others are more sensitive to being around the gas givers so see the starter guide below to keeping everyone happy...

Gas Givers/Releasers:

  • Avocados'
  • Bananas, unripe these guys are powerful and can be a party spoiler for other fruit
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Sensitive to Gas Givers/Releasers so keep them away from each other:

  • Bananas, ripe
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other greens
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Watermelon

Overview to Storing Veggies:

1. Store refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging unless it is drenched in water then remove from the wet packaging and dry it or replace the bag gently hugging the produce, such as lettuces, with some dry paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

2. Remove any rubber bands or string that are binding the vegetables. Remove any dead, brown or rotting leaves.

3. Do not overcrowd the vegetable bin as you will smother your produce and it will rot more quickly. Air needs to circulate.

Overview to Storing Fruit:

1. Remove any rotten berries or wet fruit from packaging or it will start to mold and rot. Forget one bad apple, this is all about one bad berry (or anyone else for that matter).

2. Leave berries in their packaging and refrigerate (they will rot if you do not) but do not cover as they need air circulation to prevent moisture from building up which causes rot. Stone fruit and tomatoes if unripe can continue to ripen on the window sill or counter.

Specific Summer Fruits:

Apricots/Nectarines/Peaches/Plums: No matter how strong is the urge to refrigerate these beauties, store unripe on the counter or windowsill at room temperature. Do not refrigerate until they are singing the ripeness tune.

Recipe Idea: Toss together sliced or chopped stone fruit, toasted almonds, goat cheese and arugula, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Berries: Either you eat them the day you get them, or you must refrigerate, as they are highly perishable. We have not noticed any loss of flavor, but keep in mind anything that continues to age in an unkind environment can lose some of their sassiness just like some people.

Recipe Idea: Toss berries with some lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped mint and dash of sugar or honey for a refreshing salad or dessert.

Heirloom or Beefsteak or Cherry Tomatoes: Tomatoes should never be refrigerated as it spoils their unique individual flavor. Keep on the counter until ripe and then use in rapid abandonment once they are. Roast or saute ones that are about to misbehave.

Recipe Idea: Fresh tomato sauce made with quartered tomatoes, small bocconcini (little mozzarella balls), chopped basil, shallot, minced garlic, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Toss with hot cooked pasta for a great summer meal.

Specific Summer Veggies:

Bell Peppers: Refrigerate loose in the fridge.

Recipe Idea: Roast and then coarsely chop. Combine with capers that are rinsed and drained, chopped fresh basil and rosemary, Sherry Wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve topped with shavings of parmesan.

Eggplant: Store loose in the produce drawer of the refrigerator and branch out and try all of the amazing sizes and colors. If you are not a lover of this nightshade, we are sorry for what you are missing!!

Recipe Idea: Halve or cut lengthwise slices of small eggplant and brush with Asian marinade made of soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, fresh lime juice, freshly grated ginger and red onion. Grill until smoky and tender and keep brushing. Drizzle with remaining sauce.

Garlic: Do not refrigerate and keep them on the counter or in a basket alongside your onions. They make great mates.

Recipe Idea: Keep head of garlic intact. Halve horizontally on a sheet of oil, drizzle cut sides with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in foil and roast until tender. Unwrap and squeeze out the sweet garlic puree. Spread on sandwiches, add to salad dressings, marinades, soups, stews and pasta sauces…well pretty much everything!

Mushrooms: They are full of water and need to breathe, so store in the original packaging, or if in a cluster, in a brown paper bag. If only using a portion of them rewrap the top in plastic wrap or keep in bag.

Recipe Idea: Grill or Roast a whole head/cluster of mushrooms such as oyster in the oven seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with chopped fresh thyme or rosemary and drizzled with olive oil until charred on the outside but tender on the inside. Present whole clusters on a platter and slice into portions. This is the most amazing way to eat them as they get crispy on the outside but are creamy on the inside…so delicious! Best accompaniment to grilled meats, fish or poultry.

Onions: Keep them dry in a basket on the counter. If cut then refrigerate or they will stink up your kitchen.

Recipe Idea: Slice onions and caramelize in olive oil with salt and pepper, over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Use these as you would the roasted garlic. Also a great topper for pizza.

Sweet Corn: Refrigerate in their husk until ready to use and keep in mind that should be sooner than later as the sugars begin to turn to starch as soon as they are picked. So sweet-corn lovers beware! Consume quickly. Also fresh picked corn with firm small sized kernels can be eaten uncooked shucked from the cob. Believe us the sugars are at their best and the pop of a fresh kernel is highly underrated.

Recipe Idea: Corn salad mixed with fresh lime juice, a touch of ground cumin and chopped cilantro. Add some chopped bell pepper for some color and crunch.

You know what fresh fruit and vegetables are also great for? Smoothies! Check out our top 5 smoothie recipes and mix up a healthy, fruity beverage. 

 

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