How to Keep Vegetables Fresh: Smart Storage
Most vegetables do best when stored in the fridge, but not all of them. The exceptions? Potatoes, onions and tomatoes.
That’s quite an important trio. Potatoes can turn unappealing sweet when chilled. Onions, though they will last longer in the fridge, will oddly turn a bit mushy. Tomatoes, sadly, become mealy and lose flavor to boot.
So what should you do with them? Keep potatoes and onions in a cool, dark place. But don’t, despite the temptation, store them together! The ethylene produced by onions causes potatoes to go bad. Keep tomatoes on the counter, out of direct sunlight. (The same goes for garlic.)
Winter squash and sweet potatoes don’t need to be refrigerated. Like potatoes and onions, they do very well in a cool, dark place. Unlike potatoes and onions and tomatoes, however, refrigeration won’t harm them.
Eggplant and peppers of various sorts will do fine on the counter for a day, but for longer storage, they’ll appreciate the fridge, too.
Other vegetables will fair best stored loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge, although paper bags, rather than plastic ones, work better for mushrooms and okra and help keep them from discoloring or developing soft spots.
Most vegetables are best stored as bought, unwashed until you’re ready to use them. One exception is leafy greens, including lettuce, which will stay freshest longest if washed, spun or patted dry, rolled up in paper towels (which will keep them moist without having wilt-causing water on the leaves), and then stored in a plastic bag. (If you like to buy mixed greens, a salad spinner is a smart investment.)
Keep avocados on the counter if they need to ripen a bit — in a paper bag if you want them to ripen more quickly — and in the fridge once they’re ready to use but you’re not quite ready for them.
Some people swear by cutting a bit of the stem off asparagus and leafy herbs like parsley and basil, putting them in a vase or jar filled with water as if they were flowers, covering them with a plastic bag and then storing them in the fridge that way. This can work to extend their freshness, but you risk accidentally knocking them over. For asparagus, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel, then store it in a sealed plastic bag. Leafy herbs also do well in a plastic bag, but don’t keep them bunched. Instead, cut the rubber band and loosely wrap them in a dry paper towel, then pop them in the bag.
Of course, you may find you prefer using asparagus and basil more quickly and saving all that fuss for making something delicious with them!
Did you know the average American family of four throws away between $1,350 and $2,275 worth of food every year? Keep your groceries fresher, longer — and stretch your grocery dollars!
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How fresh is your fridge? Download our handy fresh fridge chart!