You've just received a box of fresh produce on your doorstep or returned home from the farmer's market--now what? Do fresh peaches go in a paper bag, or sit on the countertop, or both? Will garlic keep longer in the fridge (yes), but zap it's flavor (yes, sadly)? And, can you use that garlic that is now sprouting green (yes, but the flavor is not as impactful)? Preserving food without sacrificing quality or flavor can seem daunting, especially as we are all trying to cut down on food waste and plastic consumption. Below you'll find a convenient chart that can help you make some of those decisions. Click on the PDF link below to access the full guide:
Keep in mind, room temperature, humidity and innate perishability all play a role in keeping fresh food longer. There is no magic formula--for instance, our home doesn't have central air conditioning, so keeping an eggplant on the counter for a week (as suggested below), won't work for us and would probably only last a day or two without refrigeration. But this guide is helpful as a starting point.
Personally, I try to keep it simple, and reuse our bio produce bags to store greens (lettuce, leafy greens) and other vegetables in the fridge (green beans, peas, broccoli) for best results. Fresh herbs get wrapped in a paper towel and stored in a bag. Carrots and other root vegetables, like parsnips and turnips, always get bagged and refrigerated for the longest use in our house; otherwise, their water evaporates and they go limp in a couple days. Tomatoes are always ripened on the windowsill, citrus and other fruits (except stone fruits, until they are really soft and I'd like to preserve them longer in the fridge) go loose in the crisper. Potatoes and onions (loose, but separated) go in another crisper, unless I'm going to use them in a few days.
The key is to buy only what you think you will reasonably use in a week, or buy storage crops like potatoes and onions in bulk and have a place to store them properly (cool basement or garage, if there's not enough room in your fridge). There's no foolproof method, and there will probably be some loss from time to time--be gentle with yourself. If that happens, there's always soup or stock to make--or compost.
Who We Are
Green Circle Organics specializes in local and organic produce, dairy and minimally processed, locally produced foods. Since 2003, we've been operating out of the historic Lancaster Central Market, providing a channel for farm fresh, organic and specialty foods to reach city dwellers and visitors. Check here for recipe ideas using the seasonal produce and other goods we sell at our market stand and for our Produce Box home delivery service.