Rob M.||Early Spring Storage Tips|
Mar 27, 2012 at 9:43 am |
Asparagus: Cut 1/2 - 1 inch off of the base of the asparagus. Wrap asparagus stalks in damp paper towels, place inside a plastic bag, and refrigerate. The fresh cut on the base and damp paper towels will help the asparagus to retain and replenish moisture, extending storage life.
Green Onions: First, go through the bunch of green onions and cut off any smashed or damaged tops. Tops are often damaged in the fields, or during transport, but it is important to "prune" them before storage so that they do not accelerate deterioration on the rest of the bunch. Green onions will start to lose moisture and wilt in just a few days, so it is best to store them in a plastic bag, prior to placing in the refrigerator.
Cabbage: If possible, do not remove outer leaves from cabbage. Outer leaves protect interior from damage and from moisture loss. However, if refrigerator space is an issue, you can remove the outer leaves, and will have a smaller head of cabbage, just know that it won't keep quite as well. Cabbage can be used in portions, but once you cut into the interior of the cabbage, you will need to wrap the remaining portion tightly in saran wrap. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used raw as in coleslaw or cooked in a variety of ways. Cabbage is a food staple and is used in many types of cuisine.
Cucumbers: Cucumbers should be refrigerated and kept relatively dry. Over exposure to moisture can cause premature deterioration through mold. This is why English Cucumbers are commonly shrink wrapped, and grocery store cucumbers are often finished with a coat of wax. You can check the life of a cucumber by squeezing the ends. The ends generally turn squishy before the rest of the cucumber, so if they feel soft or start to look wrinkled, the cucumber is coming to the end of its storage life.
Herbs, bunched: Commonly bunched herbs include basil, cilantro, and parsley. Remove band or tie, and pick out any stems or leaves that have been damaged from banding. Snip the base of the stems, wrap in damp paper towels, and store in plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will help herbs to retain moisture, and extend storage life.
Greens, Collards, Kale, Chard: Greens should be placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator. If greens start to look wilted, you can revive them by snipping the base of the stems, filling a tub with cold water, submerging the greens in the water, and placing the water tub in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. The freshly snipped stems will soak up the cold water, and revitalize the greens. Grocery stores commonly use this trick before placing greens on their produce shelves.
Lettuce, heads: Lettuce loves moisture. Remove any wilted leaves, and dampen interior remaining leaves. Place in plastic bag, and store in refrigerator. If lettuce becomes wilted, you can revive it in a cold water bath similar to the method described for greens. However, 1 hour in the bath is usually plenty, more can result in oversaturation and wet-rot.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature. Refrigerating causes them to become mealy and lose much of their flavor. Check tomatoes occasionally for softening, and use softest tomatoes first. Softness is a sign of ripeness.
Strawberries: Check for any damaged or bruised strawberries, and remove them from the container. Damaged fruits release ethylene gas which signals other fruits to ripen at a faster rate. This means that one bad apple really does spoil the bunch. Berries can go bad quite quickly, so make sure they are covered, and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. However, strawberries will be at their juiciest at room temperature, so if possible bring them to room temperature prior to consuming.
Broccoli: Broccoli should be stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for 4-5 days. Like most vegetables, broccoli will lose moisture as it ages, which you want to protect against, but you also want the broccoli to be able to breathe, so it is not a good idea to enclose it in plastic. A perforated plastic bag, or just an open plastic bag are usually the best options. During commercial transport, broccoli is packed on ice which keeps moisture level high, and temperature as close to freezing as possible, while still allowing the broccoli to breathe. However, this usually isn't practical at home. Broccoli takes very well to freezing (if blanched first), so you may consider freezing broccoli if unable to use it within a few days.
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