It’s backyard garden and farmers’ market season–at least in my neck of the woods.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of local produce year-round, but here in DC we’re just getting started.
And I’m so excited! During this season, I eat at least one bunch of fresh dark leafy greens each day. That averages out to about 20 leaves a day–whether it’s from collards, kale, dandelion greens, mustards…you name it. I get them all in through green smoothies, salads, wraps, and light sautés.
If you want to up your produce ante like me, here are some great tips from the Berkeley Farmers’ Market to keep the produce from going bad before you eat them. (Note: when the list mentions containers, think glass, wood, stainless steel, or cardboard.)
How to Store Fresh Fruits & Veggies Longer Without Plastic
Apples: store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, store in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Citrus: store in a cool place, with good airflow; never in an air-tight container.
Cherries: store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, as any added moisture encourages mold.
Dates: dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag–as long as it’s porous, to keep the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
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.
Figs: don’t like humidity, so no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week, unstacked.
Melons: store uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge; an open container is fine.
Nectarines: (similar to apricots) store in the fridge; is okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches (and most stone fruit): refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears: will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Persimmon: Fuyu: (shorter/pumpkin-shaped): store at room temperature. Hachiya: (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, checking now and then, but don’t stack-they get very fragile when really ripe.
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.
Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breath.
Avocados: place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening, place an apple in the bag with them.
Beets: cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!) by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Broccoli: place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
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 it’s bought.
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.
Greens: remove any bands, twist ties, etc. Most greens must be kept in an air-tight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans: they like humidity, but not wetness. Store in an open or loosely closed container with a damp cloth draped over them.
Herbs: store in a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Okra: doesn’t like humidity, so store under a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well; best eaten quickly after purchase.
Radishes: remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Summer Squash: does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
Sweet peppers: only wash them right before you plan on eating them, as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days; place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
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.
To get a PDF version of the full list of 60 fruits and veggies, click here. Have a great week!