Sunday, April 5, 2009

Making Veggies Last


One question I get asked about regarding my once a month grocery shopping is, "What do you do about fresh fruits and vegetables?" Here are some tips I have learned along the way to keep your fresh fruits and vegetables lasting a bit longer:

Fruits and Vegetables that will last about 1 month (3-4 weeks) include: 
  • carrots -- cut off the green tops before placing them in a paper bag in the veggie drawer of your fridge.
  • potatoes -- take out of the bag and store in a wire basket in a cold, dark place.
  • onions -- same as potatoes, but in a separate basket. Storing onions with potatoes could make them spoil quickly.
  • apples 
  • oranges 
  • lemons
  • limes
  • grapefruits
Fruits and Vegetables that will last about 7-10 days include:
  • iceburg lettuce -- keep in a plastic bag in the fridge and spray with water every few days. Lettuce likes to be kept cold and wet.
  • cucumbers
  • celery -- keep in the plastic bag in the fridge. One trick is to place in a shallow dish with water in the fridge.
  • green beans 
  • tomatoes -- keep on the counter, stem side down, away from sunlight.
  • melons
What we do is try to use up the fruits and vegetables that perish quickly during the first week or 2 of the month. I plan the meals accordingly. If something looks like it will spoil before we get a chance to eat it, BEFORE it starts to go bad, I will chop it up and freeze it in zip-lock baggies to use later on during the month. This works well for celery, peppers, onions, carrots, green beans, and broccoli. Frozen celery, onions, and carrots can be added to soups, stews, or frozen peppers can be added to chili.  

Have a tip to make fresh fruit or veggies last longer that I forgot to add? I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment and share your ideas with us!

12 comments:

MaryAnne said...

These are great tips, and they include a few that I didn't know about - thanks!

We have to pick our tomatoes green if we don't want the deer to get them before we do, and we put them stem down in the sun to finish ripen. Not a tip for making veggies last, but good to know if you live somewhere where deer get into your garden.

aprilfoolwed said...

Wow - this is great info! And great for when the garden matures too! We'll get a ton of peas at once, and wish we had more a few weeks later!

Thanks for the tips!

Ivy said...

I still don't know how you manage to only shop once a month, but good for you! I have a the perfect wire basket and never thought of using it for potatoes. Thanks for the hint.

Annette said...

I never keep onions in the fridge. I use so little that I dice half an onion and put it in the freezer. The other half I leave in chunks and freeze that too.

M.O.M. said...

Thanks for the tips. I have been "working" on being frugal and wondered how people could go shopping only once a month.

I do have a tip that wasn't listed. Celery lasts longer (even up to a month) if you take it out of the bag and wrap it in Aluminum foil.

Valerie said...

@ MaryAnne -- That is a great tip for tomatoes. We don't have a problem with deer, but we do with squirrels, and nothing is more frustrating that seeing a big green tomato with a big squirrel-bite taken out of it!

@ M.O.M -- I never knew that trick with the celery, and now I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks!

Julie said...

There is a product called "Debbie Meyers Green Bags" (greenbags.com) which you can store veggies in. My husband is a buyer for a retail chain here in Seattle and he got a box as a free sample about 6 months ago. I think they work pretty well. I just wash them out and use them over and over again (except the one that smells like onions is used only for onions!) It says they last 10 times each or something like that but I'm still using mine. They might not be too frugal, seeing as you have to purchase them, but I've been happy with the ones I got and will eventually purchase more when these all wear out.

Kathy said...

Great post idea! We put our bunches of cilantro and parsley in mugs of water and then place them in the fridge. They last a lot longer. If you want to always have green onions on hand, only chop down to the white part and then place it in a cup of water in a window. The green part will re-grow!

Thanks for all the ideas!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

I work for a farmers market up here in WA and many people ask me how to store fruits and veggies. You have some great tips here... and here are a few more:

Any lettuce can be soaked in cold water to perk it up.

Leeks, green onions, cabbage, and onions usually spoil from the outside in. Just take off the outside layers and you have the rest of the veggie to use as usual.

You can freeze most everything you are going to cook.

Cilantro, parsley, and other herbs, store dry wrapped in a paper towel, in a plastic bag, in your crisper drawer. They can last two to three weeks that way. Wilty ones you just toss and use the rest.

Never wash veggies until you are going to eat them. This is doubley important for soft skinned things like berries. Once you wash them, you have about 48 hours before they are all bad.

You can freeze any berries, etc washed and stored in bags. For fresh goodies like green beans, broccoli, etc, you want to blanch it before freezing. This retains more of the color and flavor of the veggie.

Some fruits and veggies have a day limit to the use they are for. Take bananas. Day 1 - 5 every day eating. Day 5 - 9 Smoothies. Day 9 and on... banana bread baby! There are a couple of fruits that work like this and if you remember that, even if you missed eating them when they were 'perfect', you won't waste them. Tomatoes, apples, and avacados come to mind.

If I think of more I will come back. I used to give these to my boss to publish on his blog. I will see if he has a list somewhere I can link you. I know others added to that list too... I bet it is a wealth of keeping veggie knowledge. ;)

Val

Valerie said...

@ Julie -- I think the Green Bags are worth the money if they help your produce last longer, and if you reuse them over and over again. I know several people who swear by them!

@ Kathy -- I never knew that about green onions! Thanks for the tip!!

@ Val -- WOW! I can't wait to try some of these out!! You are so right about not washing veggies until you are going to eat them. I have noticed that once they get washed, they start to spoil much faster. Great tips, and I am so glad you stopped by to comment!!

Kitten Muffin said...

I wrap fresh herbs in a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge too. It works a treat. It also works well for mushrooms.

Ethylene gas is the key to a lot of ripening and spoiling. This explains it quite well.

A lot of places say that charcoal in the fridge will absorb the ethylene gas given off by already ripe produce and so slow the process of becoming over ripe, but I've not tested it, so not sure how effective it actually is. I feel an experiment coming on.

Sew Impatient said...

SO awesome! Your blog came to me at the best time! Great advice!!

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