Do you ever come back from the grocery store with plenty of fresh vegetables, hoping they will last the week, but then discover they are wilting and past their best within a matter of days? Luckily, there are solutions. Read on to find out how you can make the most of your fresh vegetables with our handy solutions to keep your vegetables fresh in your fridge.
1. Choose your produce carefully
To help keep your vegetables fresh in the fridge, be picky about which vegetables you buy in the first place. Vegetables that have already started to go bad are going to go downhill a lot quicker than those that are in peak condition. Here are some things to watch out for when choosing vegetables:
- Check for discoloration. Green vegetables will often get a yellow tinge when they are on the verge of going bad, while other vegetables may start to get brown spots. Make sure the vegetables you are buying are vibrant and unblemished.
- Check for softness. Good quality vegetables should feel firm to the touch, while leafy greens such as lettuce should be crisp.
- Check for signs of mold. While everyone knows not to buy moldy produce, sometimes it can be hard to spot, especially if it has just started to develop. Inspect around the stem in vegetables such as peppers and eggplants, as often mold can start to develop in these places, and once it has started, it is sure to spread.
2. Know how long vegetables last
Some vegetables just last longer than others. While potatoes and onions can last for weeks or even months, others such as leafy greens and softer vegetables have a much shorter shelf life. Knowing how long you can expect vegetables to last can prevent them from starting to decay in your fridge, which can lead to mold spreading to other vegetables.
Here are some guidelines for how long you can expect vegetables to stay fresh:
- Broccoli and cauliflower will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days.
- Storage time for leafy greens can vary. Lettuce, kale, and spinach will last between four days and a week. If your greens were pre-packaged or bagged, they’ll keep for less time—about three to five days.
- Carrots and parsnips will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three weeks, while radishes, turnips, and beets will last about two weeks.
- Garlic should stay fresh for a couple of weeks, while onions will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two months.
- Summer squash and zucchini will stay fresh for up to five days in the refrigerator. Winter squashes, such as butternut or acorn squash, can last up to three months in the refrigerator.
3. Get the storage right
Different vegetables respond to different storage methods. We have outlined some of the main methods below.
Broccoli—If you’re going to use broccoli within a couple of days, store it in a ziplock bag in the fridge. If you want it to last longer, wet the head, wrap it in paper towels, and store it in an airtight container or bag.
Carrots—To keep carrots from going limp, store them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel or dry reusable cloth. This absorbs excess moisture that forms when carrots sit in storage, extending their life by up to ten times.
Celery—Wrap the root end of celery in a paper towel or cloth and place it in a bag if you have one. Squeeze out any excess air and place it in the refrigerator. If you have chopped celery, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container.
Cucumbers—Keep the cucumber wrapped in plastic wrap to protect the soft skin and prevent dehydration.
Leafy greens—Refrigerate leafy greens in an airtight container or bag. This will keep them from becoming slimy and will allow them to last twice as long.
Lettuce—Wrap your lettuce in a paper towel, cloth, or tea towel and store it in an airtight container or bag.
Pumpkin—To store cut pumpkin, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, beeswax wrap, or a bag and place it in the refrigerator.
Mushrooms—They should be stored in a paper bag to prolong their freshness. Never store mushrooms in plastic.
4. Wash and then dry
Before putting vegetables in the fridge, thoroughly wash and dry them. Washing removes bacteria and other contaminants from the vegetable’s surface. Dry the vegetables on a paper towel or on the counter. However, before storing them, make sure they are completely dry so that excess moisture does not cause the vegetable to spoil.
5. Store certain foods separately
Keep your vegetables away from produce that emits ethylene. Some vegetables and fruits emit ethylene gas, which causes many other vegetables to spoil faster, though some are unaffected. Keep ethylene-sensitive vegetables separate from ethylene-producing vegetables:
- Apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, pears, and tomatoes are among the fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene.
- Asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, squashes, and zucchini are all ethylene-sensitive vegetables.
The crisper drawers are an easy way to separate vegetables from produce that produces ethylene, but you can also use airtight containers.
If you follow the advice in this guide, you will soon find your vegetables are lasting longer than ever and you’ll no longer have to throw spoiled vegetables away!