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Store Fruit & Vegetables Without Plastic

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 under How To's, Sustainable Living

You gotta love summer’s abundant fruits and vegetables: Strawberries, juicy tomatoes, fresh carrots, dark leafy spinach, spicy arugula. If you’re busy harvesting all of this organic goodness from your garden, you’re probably wondering what the best way to keep it fresh and tasty as long as possible. Yes, plastic baggies and cling wrap may be popular containers for storing food, but there are better, less-wasteful, less-plastic options.

Here are some fantastic tips provided by the Berkeley Farmer’s Market on how to extend the life of your produce in and out of the refrigerator, without resorting to plastic.

Apples—Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, place in a cardboard box in the fridge.

Arugula—Arugula,
 like 
lettuce,
 should
 not 
stay
 wet!
 Dunk
 in 
cold
 water 
and 
spin 
or 
lay
 flat 
to
 dry. 
Place 
dry 
arugula 
in 
an
 open 
container,
 wrapped
 with 
a
 dry 
towel 
to
 absorb
 any extra 
moisture.


Asparagus—Place the upright stalks loosely in a glass or bowl with water at room temperature. Will keep for a week outside the fridge.

Basil—Difficult to store well. Basil does not like to be cold or wet. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside, left out on a cool counter.

Beets—Cut the tops off to keep beets firm, and be sure to keep the greens! Leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in an open container with a wet towel on top.

Berries—Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.

Carrots—Cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.

Cauliflower—Will 
last 
a
while 
in 
a 
closed
 container
 in 
the 
fridge, 
but 
they 
say 
cauliflower 
has
 the 
best
 flavor
 the 
day
i t’s
 bought.


Corn—Leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best the day it’s picked.

Cucumber—Wrapped
 in 
a
 moist
 towel 
in 
the 
fridge. 
If
 you’re 
planning
 on eating
 them
 within
 a
 day 
or 
two 
after 
buying 
them, 
they
 should 
be 
fine 
left 
out
 in 
a 
cool 
room.


Eggplant—Does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage, place loose in the crisper.

Greens—Remove any bands, twist ties, etc. Most greens must be kept in an airtight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Kale, collard greens, and chard do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.

Green 
beans—They like 
humidity,
 but
 not 
wetness.
 A 
damp
 cloth 
draped
 over
 an 
open
 or 
loosely 
closed
 container.



Melons—Keep uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun for up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge; an open container is fine.

Peaches (and most stone fruit)—Refrigerate only when fully ripe. Firm fruit will ripen on the counter.

Rhubarb—Wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.

Spinach—Store
 loose 
in
 an 
open 
container 
in 
the 
crisper,
 cool
 as
 soon 
as 
possible. 
Spinach loves 
to 
stay
 cold.


Strawberries—Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.

Sweet peppers—Only wash them right before you plan on eating them because wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple of days, place in the crisper if longer storage is needed.

Summer
 squash—Does 
fine 
for 
a 
few
 days 
if 
left
 out
 on 
a 
cool
 counter, 
even 
after
 cut.


Sweet potatoes—Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Never refrigerate, sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.

Tomatoes—Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness, place in a paper bag with an apple.

Zucchini—Does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

For more tips on how to store your fruits and veggies, you can download the original tip sheet developed by the Berkeley Farmer’s Market.