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How To Store Vegetables Effectively to Keep Them Fresh

Here is our comprehensive guide on how to store vegetables. It includes detailed instructions on how to store every type of vegetable and fruits from Apples to Zucchini.

Eating the right foods to stay healthy is a part of everyday life. We all strive to eat less processed food, but that means we have to indulge in foods that are fresh. It can be a challenge to know how to store these types of food properly, so that you can keep them from going bad. Fruits and Veggies have the biggest potential of going bad before you have the chance to eat them. With proper storage, you can prolong their freshness, and be able to have fruits and veggies on hand for longer periods of time.

Safety should always be considered, as you never want to contaminate your fresh veggies and fruit. When they are stored properly, you will be able to eat them without the worry of potential health risk.

storing vegetablesUsing the right storage methods will give your produce optimum freshness, and you will be able to get the most out of your veggie and fruit purchases.

Why Storing Vegetables Correctly Is Important?

There are a few reasons why food storage is so important. You want to ensure that the foods that you are eating are safe. This means, they should not have been introduced to any contamination during the storage process. Plus, you want to keep your produce fresh without having to deal with mold or decay.

When you store your fruits and veggies correctly, you will not have to worry about unwanted waste. This will help decrease the amount of money you are spending on fresh produce, and then having to throw it away before you eat it. None of us go to the grocery store and buy produce with the thought of throwing it away in a few days. However, this happens a lot of the time. The biggest reason for produce going bad before you have the chance to eat it, is because of the way it is stored. Proper storage of your fruits and veggies will decrease waste and help save you money.

Storing Vegetables In Your Fridge

store vegetables in fridgeSafety is the main reason why it is important that your food is stored correctly. Some foods need to be kept in the fridge because bacteria can grow on it if it is introduced to warm temperatures. If you ingest food that contains certain bacteria, you could get food poisoning. This will make you very sick, and you will experience a variety of health issues.

There are a number of other things that could affect your fridge’s temperature, such as how many times the door is being open, if there is an issue with the door seal, the amount of products in the fridge, and the temperature that the food is when it is placed in the fridge.

You will need to make sure that your fridge is on the right temperature, so that bacteria does not grow. Your fridge needs to be set between 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. If for any reason the dial is not working on your fridge, you could check that it is set at the right temperature by using a thermometer. Try to keep the fridge door closed when not getting something out of it. This will help decrease the amount of environmental changes the food inside will go through.

If you have cooked a meal and have leftovers to store, always let them cool before putting them in the fridge. It is never a good idea to put hot food in a cold refrigerator. This could cause issues with the food spoiling, as well as having an effect on the dish that you are storing it in.

The fuller your fridge is, the cooler the temperature will need to be. When you have a lot stored in your fridge, it will affect the temperature. Ensure that you clean your fridge out often, so that food does not become cross contaminated, and everything is evenly cooled.

Here are a few tips that you want to keep in mind for storing food in your fridge.

  • Read the label to see if it says to keep the item in the fridge before or after it is open. If the item is fresh, you need to be aware of how to properly store them, and if this includes keeping them in the fridge.
  • When prepping a dish, keep ingredients out of the fridge for the shortest amount of time possible. You do not want them getting too warm.
  • Always refrigerate foods if you are not going to eat them right away. Things that need to go in the fridge should never be left at room temperature for an extended period of time.
  • When having a party, leave food in the fridge for as long as possible before serving. This will help decrease the chances of bacteria growth or food turning a funny color. You never want to keep food out for more than 4 hours at a time. Some foods will need to be stored quicker.
  • Store leftovers within 2 hours of eating. You can allow them to stay in the fridge for about 2 days.

Storing Vegetables/Food In Your Freezer

store vegetables in freezerThe great thing about storing food in a freezer is, you can keep food on hand without it going bad quickly. This will help decrease the amount of waste. Plus, you are safe to freeze foods for a long period of time. This is a very popular method for those who like to grow their own fruits and veggies.

The thing you have to be aware of when freezing food, is that the texture and taste may change. Some foods cannot be frozen for long periods of time, because they are affected in a negative way. However, the way you store your foods and the containers that you use will make a huge difference in the outcome of your frozen fruits and veggies.

Knowing how to store your produce and the length of time it can be stored for, is the key to freezing food properly.

Here are some tips that will help you store raw or cooked foods properly.

  • You will want to always date your food before placing it in the freezer, as this will help you track its freshness. Plus, if you freeze produce that you have grown, this will help you use up the oldest before breaking into your newly harvested produce that you have placed in your freezer.
  • Allow produce to unthaw naturally or in the fridge, as dethawing them in the microwave could cause them to go rubbery.
  • It is best to set your produce out ahead of time, so you can allow it to unthaw in the fridge. This will allow it to slowly reach a temperature that you can eat it or cook with it. Plus, you will not have to worry about it being introduced to bacterias because it went from a frozen state to being too warm.
  • Once the food has been dethawed, you will need to eat it in 2 days, as it will go off quickly.
  • Ensure you cook it thoroughly before eating it. Frozen food can be hot on the outside and cold in the middle. So, you will want to check it before removing it from the stove or oven.
  • There is lots of water that can come off of food that has been frozen. Therefore, when unthawing the food you want to keep it away from other foods. Cross contamination can happen, and bacteria can easily spread and grow.
  • Wash up all surfaces after working with food that you have dethawed.

Storing Vegetable/Food That Is In A Tin Can

If you use fruits and veggies from a can, you need to transfer them to a bowl with a lid if you do not eat the whole can. They can then be placed in the fridge until you are ready to eat them again.

You can not store food in a can once it has been opened. Nor do you want to re-use cans to store food. Once food is introduced into the air, the tin contaminates the food. However, this would not ring true for those products that are sold in a can that has a resealable lid. These types of products will not react to the tin.

Using Cling Film or Foil

When you are using cling film or foil to cover your food, you need to ensure that you are using it correctly. Make sure that the food you are storing is ok to wrap with cling film. You can look at the description on the side of the box.

Here are some tips to remember when using cling film.

  • Never choose to use cling film if there is danger of the plastic melting into the food. This could include foods that you place in the oven or are going to cook on the stove.
  • Cling film is safe to use in the microwave according to the package, but be sure that the wrap does not touch the food.

Kitchen foil is very handy to keep around, as you can quickly cover food. However, you have to be aware that acidic foods should not be wrapped in foil. These include tomatoes, rhubarb, cabbage and other soft fruits. Be aware that the aluminium in foil can cause an alteration in the way the food taste when stored for long periods of time.

A-Z How To Store Specific Fruits and Veggies

Now that you understand the importance of storing food properly, we have some tips to share with you on how to store specific fruits and veggies. Remember, storage is key to keeping your food safe to eat and fresh.

How to store Apples

They say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Well, if that is true, then you will want to keep plenty on hand all the time. Apples need to be stored in the fridge, as this will extend their life. Be aware, that one bad apple can easily cause issues with the whole batch. Therefore, you will want to eat any apples that have bruises first. If you want to store apples for long periods of time, you can place them in a cardboard box and cover them with a damp towel.

How to store Artichokes

Artichokes need to be put into an airtight container that is lined with a damp towel. This will give them the moisture they need to stay fresh. They then need to be placed in the fridge.

How to store Asparagus

Asparagus needs to be kept in the fridge. After you make your asparagus purchase, you will need to trim the base of the stock. Then place them in a jar with an inch of water in it. You could also wrap the ends with a moist paper towel if you do not want to place them in a jar.

How to store Avocados

If your avocado is not ripe when you first purchase it, you can speed up this process by putting it in a paper bag with an apple. Once the avocado is ripe, it will need to be stored in the fridge. You can mix the avocado with lime or lemon juice to help keep it fresh, or allow the pit to stay in and slowly brown.

Bananas

Bananas need to be stored on your counter top, and should not be in the same area as other fruit. These delicious little treats let off ethylene gas, which can contaminate other fruits and veggies. Bananas can be frozen, but you will need to remove the peel first.

Basil

This herb is known as a warm weather crop. It can turn black when placed in the fridge. Therefore, basil needs to be stored on the counter top in a glass of water. Think of it as putting flowers in water, as this is the best way to keep basil fresh. You can also wrap the stems in a damp towel, and store in an airtight container.

Beans

There are two types of beans that you may want to store, canned and dry. Cooked Beans need to be stored in their own liquid or water and placed in the fridge. Dry beans need to be stored in an airtight container and placed in a cool and dry place. You can freeze cooked beans in a freezer container, with their liquid on them.

Green beans that have not yet been washed, need to be put in an airtight container and placed in the fridge. When green beans become wet, they will ruin easily. You can also freeze green beans. They can be stored raw or blanched.

Beets

Beets should be stored in the fridge. You will want to remove the green top, and place them in an airtight container. Place a dry paper towel inside to collect moisture. If you wish to freeze your beets, you will need to begin by blanching them, and then placing them in an airtight container.

Berries

You will need to de-stem all berries before storage can occur. Also, cut out any bad spots, because one bad berry can ruin a batch. Place unwashed berries in an airtight container. Be careful not to put too many in a container, as they can become crushed. Berries are fragile and should be handled with care.

It is best to store your berries unwashed, because moisture will increase your chances of mold. To freeze them, simply put them in an airtight container and place in the freezer. You can also freeze them on a cooking sheet, and then transfer them to an airtight container, as this will prevent them from freezing together. Wash your berries before you eat them.

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon should be placed in an airtight container and put in the drawer in your fridge. This melon can be frozen, but it must be sautéed first. When storing in the freezer, be sure that it is in an airtight container to prevent frost from forming.

Broccoli

Broccoli can be stored as it is, and placed in the fridge. If you wish, you can wrap it in a damp towel or cotton bag to keep it fresh for a longer period’s of time. If you wish to freeze broccoli, you will need to blanch it first.

Broccoli Rabe

It needs to be placed in the crisper in an open container. This veggie has a tendency to spoil quickly, so it will need to be eaten soon after it has been purchased.

Brussels Sprouts

Loose Brussels sprouts will need to be put in an open container with a damp towel on top of them. They then need to be placed in the fridge. If the sprouts are on a stalk, then you can leave them on there, and place in the fridge or a cold place.

Cabbage

Cabbage needs to be put in the crisper in the fridge. Never put cabbage in the door of the fridge, as this is one of the warmest spots and it can cause it to spoil quickly. When the cabbage begins to wilt, you will want to discard the outer leaves. This veggie has a tendency of going bad quicker than other produce.

Carrots

Carrots will need the tops cut off, as this will keep them fresh for longer periods of time. You can either place your carrots in the fridge in a container that is airtight, or in a container of water. They should be put in the crisper, as this will keep them the right temperature.

Cauliflower

Place in an airtight container and put in the fridge. This veggie has a tendency to go bad quickly, so you will want to eat it soon after you purchase it.

Celery

Keep celery in the fridge. It can be placed in an airtight container, or a container of water. Celery can also be washed, dried and placed in the freezer.

Cherries

Always store your cherries in the fridge. You do not want to wash them before storing, as this can cause mold to form. Wash them right before you eat them. If the cherries are pitted and washed, they can be placed in the freezer. Ensure you use an airtight container, so that no frost forms on them.

Citrus

Citrus fruits include grapefruits, lemons, limes and oranges. You can keep citrus fruit loose and place in your fridge’s crisper. It can also be stored in an airtight container. When you cut a lemon or lime in half, you will want to place a damp towel over the cut end. This will help keep it moist. Citrus fruit can be placed in the freezer, as long as it is stored in an airtight container.

Corn

You will want to keep the husk on the corn and store it in the fridge. It is best to eat the corn soon after it is refrigerated, as it will lose some of its flavor and texture the longer that it sits. You can blanch corn and freeze it on or off the cob. Make sure to put it in freezer friendly storage containers or bags.

Cucumbers

Place the cucumber in a glass or water with the stalk side down, or wrap it in a damp towel. It will need to be put into the fridge.

Dates

If you have dry dates, then they can be placed on the counter in a bowl. For dates that are moist, they will need to be put in the fridge in a cloth or paper bag. The goal is to keep moisture away from the skin of the date.

Eggplant

Do not wash your eggplant before storing, as it will cause moisture to collect. It should be kept in the crisper, as it will not do well if introduced to excess moisture. If you wish to freeze it, you can peel, blanch, cut and place in an airtight container.

Fennel

Put fennel in a container with a lid on it, and place it in the fridge. You will want to add a bit of water to the container, or you can place it in a water filled cup.

Figs

Figs should be put in a paper bag or on a plate in the fridge. Ensure they are not introduced to moisture. Figs are delicate, so you will want to store them in a single layer.

Garlic

Garlic needs to be stored in an area that is cool and dark. It should not share a space with other produce, as it releases ethylene gas.

Grapes

Ensure you store grapes that are free of spoiled fruit. Place them in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge. Do not wash them before storage. You can freeze grapes to use in smoothies or for frozen treats. You will want to freeze them on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then transfer to an airtight container once they have reached a frozen state.

Greens

Greens you can cook include beet greens, bok choy, broccoli raab, collards, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, tat soi and turnip greens. These types of greens will need to be placed in an airtight container, and be put in the fridge with a moist cloth. The moist cloth will keep the greens from drying out. Greens that have stems, can be placed in a cup of water and then stored in the fridge.

Salad Greens includes any greens that you would eat fresh, such as arugula, com mache, endive, lettuce, mizuna, radicchio, sorrel and spinach. Place these greens in an airtight container and put in the fridge with a moist paper towel. If you wish to have crisp greens, then you can soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. This method will help those greens that have gone limp.

Green Onions

Wrap green onions in a moist cloth, or store in a glass jar of water. Put enough water in to cover the white part of the onion. Place them in the fridge, and ensure you remove any bands that have been placed on the bunch. Freeze green onions by deicing, and storing in freezer containers.

Herbs

Herbs need to be put in an airtight container in the fridge. Fresh herbs will need to be used within a week of purchase, as mold can quickly set in.

Leeks

Wrap in a damp towel, and place leeks in a container without a lid. You should then store them in the crisper. They can also be placed in a cup with a small amount of water. You want only the bottoms of the leeks to be covered with water.

Melons

Melons should be stored in an area that is cool and dry. When the melon becomes ripe, it will need to be placed in the fridge. Melon can be cubed and frozen in an airtight container.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms need to be placed in a paper bag and stored in the fridge. You do not want them to become slimy. To freeze mushrooms, they will need to be sauteed.

Okra

This veggie is not a fan of humidity. Therefore, it will need to be placed in a dry towel, and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. It goes off quickly, so you will want to eat it shortly after you purchase it.

Onions

Onions will need to be placed in an area that is cool and dark. They should not be stacked, as they need adequate air circulation. For an onion that is partially used, you will need to place it in an airtight container and store in the fridge. Do not store onions with potatoes, as they can cause them to sprout.

Pears

To prolong the life of a pear, it will need to be stored in the fridge. Pears can be placed in the crisper, or in an open bowl on the shelf of your fridge. Over ripe pears can be used in various recipes.

Peas

Peas will need to be stored in an airtight container. If you wish to freeze fresh peas, they will need to be blanched first.

Peppers

Peppers can be placed in the crisper in your fridge. Do not wash them until you are ready to eat them. When storing a partially eaten pepper, keep the stem and seed intact as this will prolong their life. You can freeze peppers raw or blanch them.

Persimmon

You will want to allow a persimmon to ripen before placing it in the fridge. If you wish to quicken the riping period, the persimmon can be stored in a paper bag with some apples. You will not want to stack them, as this fruit is delicate.

Pomegranates

This fruit can be stored on the counter. However, to prolong its life, you can store it in an open bowl in the fridge.

Potatoes

Potatoes need to be kept in a cool, dry and dark place. It will need to be warmer than the temperature of a fridge. They are best placed in a box in a corner of your pantry or in a paper sack. Potatoes can quickly rot when introduced to light and moisture. Onions will cause them to sprout, so you do not want to store the two together. Apples do a great job keeping your potatoes from sprouting. So, if you wish to store potatoes for long periods of time, you should combine apples with them.

Radicchio

Place radicchio in a container with no lid, as you will want to drape a damp cloth over the top.

Rhubarb

Place rhubarb in the fridge in an open container and wrapped in a moist towel.

Root Veggies

Root veggies include celery root, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas and turnips. Before you can store a root vegetable, you will need to remove all green parts. These types of veggies do well in an area that is cool, dark and humid. They can also be stored in an airtight container with a moist towel in the fridge.

Rhubarb

Place in an open container in the fridge, wrap in a moist towel.

Rutabagas

Rutabagas should be stored in a cool, dark and humid area. You can also place it in a closed container in the crisper. This will help decrease moisture.

Squash

There are various types of squash, which includes acorn, butternut, pumpkin and winter squash. All of them need to be placed in a cool, dark area that is ventilated well.

Stone Fruit

Stone fruit includes peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. They need to be placed in an area that is cool, so they can properly ripen. When the fruit has reached it ripen stage, it can be stored openly in the fridge. Stone fruit can be frozen.

Sweet Potatoes

Place sweet potatoes in an area that is cool, dark and well ventilated. They do not like the cold, so they should not be put in the fridge.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are diverse, as they can be stored on the counter or in the fridge. However, once they get very ripe you will want to place them in the fridge. This fruit gives off ethylene gas, which can contaminate other fruits and veggies. It should be stored alone. Tomatoes can be frozen in a raw state or cooked. If you want to ripen a tomato, it can be placed in a paper bag with an apple.

Zucchini

Zucchini need to be stored in the fridge, and it should be wrapped in a damp towel. It can be frozen raw or blanched. Ensure you place it in an airtight container when freezing.

Things To Remember When Storing Veggies

Before you store your veggies, you will want to remove all ties and rubber bands. Trim off the leafy ends, but ensure you leave about an inch to help deter drying out. If vegetables are being stored in the fridge in a bag, the bag needs to have holes. This will allow air to flow, and help maintain freshness. You should never stack veggies or pack them too tightly when storing, as this will increase their chances of spoiling. It is best to store your vegetables, and wash before you eat them. Moisture during storage could introduce mold.

Things To Remember When Storing Fruits

There are certain fruits that will ripen quickly if placed on the counter top. These include avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears. However, other fruits need to be stored in the fridge right away, such as grapes, all citrus fruits and berries. Bananas have the ability to ripen quickly, so you will want to eat them soon after you purchase them.

Using The Crisper Drawer In Your Fridge

Many people do not know what a crisper drawer is, nor do they understand the humidity notch that appears on it. Most use the drawer for foods that won’t fit on their shelves in the fridge, but this drawer does have a purpose. Learning how to use the crisper drawer in your fridge will help prolong the life of your produce.

If this drawer contains an adjustable notch, then you will notice a high and low setting. These will gage the humidity the content receives. They will open and close a vent that is in the drawer. If you want a low humidity setting, then the window will need to be all the way open. For a high humidity setting, it will be completely closed.

In general, the ideal is to place things in the crisper drawer that can easily rot, as you can control the amount of humidity they are receiving and prolong their life. A low humidity setting, will help produce that lets off ethylene gas, such as apples and pears. When the vent in the drawer is open, this gas will have a chance to escape. With this gas being carried away from the produce that is being stored, they have a better chance of staying fresh for a longer period of time.

Some produce will wilt, and these types of produce will need to be stored in the crisper drawer with a high humidity setting. These would include arugula, spinach, and herbs. When the vent is closed, moisture is held in the drawer. This will help keep your greens crisp and fresh.

Common fruits and veggies to place in a crisper drawer on a high-humidity setting, include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, thyme)
  • Leafy greens (kale, lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress)
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelon

Common fruits and veggies to place in a crisper drawer on a low-humidity setting, includes:

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Cantaloupes
  • Figs
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Pears
  • Plantains
  • Stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums)

The crisper drawer should only be 2/3 full, as this will allow proper air flow between produce. When you understand how to work the humidity settings on your crisper drawer, you are giving your produce a chance to stay fresh until you are ready to eat it.

What type of storage containers is good for storing food?

What you store your food in has a big impact on the way it will taste when you get it out of the fridge or freezer. You are sure to take into account the amount of space you have for storage, and this will help you decide which storage methods to use. Plus, you may also consider if your container is going to be heated in the microwave when taken out of the fridge or freezer.

Do not take choosing storage containers lightly, as the safety, taste and texture of your food all depend on the storage methods you choose.

  • Fridge – When storing things in the fridge, it is best to choose the container according to the produce you are storing. If it has been cooked and you are storing it to eat at a later time, the best method would be to choose an airtight container that can be reheated. In general, glass is safer as you do not run the risk of BPH affecting your food when being reheated. However, the market is now flooded with a variety of plastic containers that are BPH free.
  • Freezing- It will highly depend on the amount of room you have in your freezer. Zip lock bags tend to be a choice method of storing berries and vegetables. They allow you to store more in a small place. You should always choose Zip Lock bags that are made for the freezer, as they will keep your food from becoming freezer burnt. These types of bags have an extra layer of protection. Always mark the dates on any containers of food that you place in the freezer. This will help you use up food that could go bad quickly. There are several other options when it comes to freezing food, such as plastic containers, aluminum pans with lids, and mason jars.

Conclusion

Knowing how to store your food properly will help extend its life, as well as its freshness. You spend a lot of money on produce at the grocery store, so you do not want to throw it away before you have time to eat it. Choose the right storing methods, and you will reduce the cost of wasted food, and be able to have healthy fruit and veggie options on hand for longer periods of time.

By admin | Post date: August 11, 2016

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