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Keeping Things Fresh

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Tasty Kitchen Blog: Keeping Things Fresh

I love going to the farmers market and seeing all the fruits and vegetables on display with colors so vibrant and flesh so firm and fresh. I often end up buying more than I need, arriving home with bags straining under all that weight, and my heart filled with anticipation for all the lovely healthy dishes about to emerge from my kitchen the next few days.

Then, as it always happens, life gets busy and before I know it, four days have passed and now some of the vegetables are looking rubbery, the herbs have grown limp, and the once-crisp fruit is now a bit sandy and mushy.

Rubbery vegetables and limp herbs in my crisper make me sad. So much hope, so much potential, and now … pffft.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Keeping Things Fresh

I’d love to be able to avoid wasting good vegetables, fruit, and herbs, and I know many who feel the same way. So today, let’s talk about that.

Do you have any tips for keeping produce fresh?

As previously confessed, I have no great tips. Nada. Well, maybe a couple. Someone once told me never to store my onions and potatoes together. Supposedly, storing them together makes the potatoes grow sprouts and the onions soften faster. So I keep the two far away from each other. For herbs, when mine are close to retirement, I whip up a quick chimichurri with the herbs, garlic, lime or lemon juice, and olive oil. I store that in the fridge and use it to season meat or add it to stir-fries. But that really isn’t keeping it fresh—more like salvaging what’s left of a once-proud bunch of greens.

Betsy says her tip probably doesn’t extend the life of the produce so much as it makes her more likely to use them while they’re still fresh. She washes and cuts the vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, and the like) then stores them to snack on raw or to throw in dishes as she cooks. As for herbs, she’s heard of freezing the herbs with butter or oil in ice cube trays for use later.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Keeping Things Fresh

Nanci is a big Costco shopper, so she buys lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. Her favorite is their giant packages of romaine lettuce hearts and blueberries. She likes to clean fruits and veggies on Sunday so that weekday meals are quick and easy. For the romaine, she separates the outer leaves and puts them into her salad spinner and washes them, then lets them sit in the strainer for a while to drain well. Then she wraps the dried leaves in paper towels and puts them into a zip top bag in the refrigerator vegetable bin. She says she finds that the lettuce lasts quite a while this way. She does the same with blueberries, cleaning them in her salad spinner then putting them onto a sheet tray lined with paper towels to dry. Then into the refrigerator they go, stored in a plastic container with a paper towel on the bottom.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Keeping Things Fresh

Now let’s hear from you! Do you have any advice for keeping produce fresh longer? Help us out and share your tips!



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Barbe Cervantes on 2.8.2014

I cater. I simply put cut veggies in plastic container with a folded paper towel. They stay fresh for days…..sometimes weeks.

Tina c on 2.8.2014

Last year I discovered a product called Grip Stic they seal bags and keep produce fresh for weeks. You can order them online

Edith Cheadle on 1.19.2014

I use the plastic from the produce dept to store vegetables in the fridge vegetable drawer, and ONLY those that come from the refrigerated side. Onlons, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Squash, Apples,Oranges, etc. IN THE FRUIT BOWL ON kitchen table. Herbs wrap gently in Damp paper towel put back into plastic bag and vegetable drawer.

Luz on 1.16.2014

The supermarket that I always go to they store there cilantro in a plastic bag but it has to have air in it like a balloon with cilantro in it and it keeps up to four weeks as long as u tie the bag up the same way

Sandy DeCrescenzi on 1.16.2014

Parsley: Rinse in cold water; shake off excess water. wrap in paper towel and place in plastic bag. Lasts a very long time in crisper drawer of fridge.

Anna W on 1.15.2014

I usually do it the paper towel way for most of my vegetables and that seems to work fine (: Especially for keeping greens crisp! When it comes to the fruit bowl, my best tip is to keep the bananas out of there. Bananas produce ethylene which is a signaling molecule for many other fruits, causing the production of ripening enzymes. This of course can be used for good as well. Know those avocados that just can never be bought while actually ripe? Simply store them with a banana or two (better yet, a bruised banana, but come on, that’s waste of good fruit) and your avocado should be ripe soon (:

jerri on 1.2.2014

i use paper towels and a little plastic wrap,except celerly goes right in water and stay fresh the longest

jgottlieb on 11.6.2013

I use Debbie Meyers Green Bags …produce lasts for weeks

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Shawna C on 11.5.2013

I put green onions, root-side-down, in a tall narrow jar with an inch of water in the bottom before placing in the door of my fridge. It not only keeps them relatively fresh, but they continually sprout new green shoots I lop off and use (since the green part is the best part anyway). It’s like having a mini green-onion garden in my fridge and lasts for a couple of months each time.

OHSue on 10.31.2013

I store my romaine lettuce in the salad spinner, simple as that. Lasts about two weeks. Any other fresh salad veggies are stored in plastic bags, not tightly sealed, with paper towels so that no part of the vegetable touches the plastic.

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Kari Lindsay on 10.31.2013

Lots of really great tips! I’ve learned that it’s best to keep carrots in separate drawers from apples and pears, as the fruit produces gases that cause the carrots to become bitter.

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Jen @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on 10.31.2013

I wrap my lettuce with a damp paper towel and place in a Ziplock bag, but I don’t seal it. It will last for a week or longer. Carrots, I was and wrap with a damp towel and store in a ziplock bag. For cut avocado, I leave the pit with it and seal in a sandwich baggies, it lasts for at least two days without turning brown.

KarenJ on 10.31.2013

Many of these work wonderfully but I still haven’t seen one in particular that I love. When there is an abundance of herbs in my garden I make pesto without the cheese, with the basil, whirl the oregano in the blender with olive oil, thyme goes into either a plain vegetable oil ( be sure to smell it first for freshness) or water, etc. They all go into small plastic containers in the freezer, with one being kept in the fridge for current use. Be sure that the oil based pestos of whatever flavor always have a thin layer of oil on top to keep them from spoiling. They will keep for a couple of years this way and always offer a fresher taste than the dried herbs, although we do those too. BTW, these also make great little hostess gifts. At Christmas I’ve been known to give some pesto, some pasta and a block of fresh parmesan in either a colander or a pasta bowl. You can rarely go wrong!

Sue T on 10.31.2013

“FreshPaper” by Fenugreen works great as an insert for any storage bag you use. Available direct online or through select groceries.

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Sue Linn on 10.31.2013

I have found if I remove each banana from the bunch when I get home from grocery shopping, all the single bananas will last longer than the bunch usually does.

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    Nanci (TK) on 11.1.2013

    That’s interesting, Sue. I’m going to try that with my next bunch of bananas. Thanks for the tip!

Selena on 10.31.2013

I have found that iceberg lettuce lasts a couple of weeks when I wrap it in paper towels then store it in a gallon zip loc bag. I rarely throw any out because I’m able to use it all before it goes bad. I also wrap peeled onion in a paper towel, put inside a zip loc bag, then inside a plastic container. I started doing this to keep the smell out of my refrigerator and then found the onion lasted longer. The celery wrapped in tinfoil works great, too. I also like to buy bell peppers when I find them on sale and go ahead and clean and cut them up and then store them in the freezer ready to add to whatever I’m cooking.

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Colette (Coco in the Kitchen) on 10.31.2013

Herbs stored in containers with lids (glass is better than Tupperware)
last forever in the fridge!

Betty on 10.31.2013

I found that if you put your salad greens, even cut up, in a stainless steel bowl with a lid but not real tight fitting, and a couple paper towel on top of the greens, they will keep for weeks I learned that from my Pampered Chef lady, she had been doing it with the stainless bowls. Also, their herb keeper works well but you can also put them in a glass with a couple inches of water and just drape a baggie over it. Celery keeps well in foil but if it is limp, cut the root end off and put in ice water, in a couple hours it will be crisp again. paper towels in between any berry works well, moisture must be the culprit for most spoilage.
Love all the ideas.
Anyone have one for green onions and apple?

Becky on 10.31.2013

I used to work as a waitress. We always put a paper towel in with salad greens in ziploc bags that have all the air pressed out of them. I still do that now with salad greens.

Kathryn on 10.31.2013

My best recommendation is to USE the fresh veggies to make things you can then store in the freezer!
Onions, peppers, herbs — make a pot of lentils or beans then freeze in portion-size bags or containers
Root veggies — chop up and freeze
Zucchini — cook with lots of garlic and olive oil, then freeze as a pasta sauce
Zucchini + eggplants + kohlrabi — dice up, cook with garlic, olive oil and fresh chopped herbs, then freeze as a pasta sauce
All potatoes, onions, veggies, herbs — make soup and freeze!
I always have some dried beans or lentils in the pantry, which I can pull out whenever I suddenly have some veggies that need to be used. Very easy to just dump everything in a pot, turn it off in 1-2 hours, let it cool, then freeze.

For fresh herbs, I also recommend cutting off the bottom 1-2 inches and putting upright like flowers in a glass with water. Change water frequently and continue cutting off ends (once a day) to keep fresh for a week.
Also, you can use the same technique to for broccoli or sprouting broccoli — keep it in a glass with water to help make it last. Continue cutting off about 1/2 inch each day so it has a fresh end. With both herbs and broccoli, I sometimes put it in the fridge like this if it’s getting warm outside.
Best way to not waste herbs — grow them in pots indoors!

Carolyne on 10.30.2013

Briefly soaking cut salad greens in a solution of vinegar and water before spinning them dry will keep them crisp and fresh for much longer. Also, soaking berries in vinegar and water before storing will keep them fresh and you won’t taste the vinegar at all.

BONNIE J. on 10.30.2013


BONNIE J. on 10.30.2013


Chris k in Wisconsin on 10.30.2013

I bring celery home, and cut off just the very top (only about 1/3 inch or so). Then get a large piece of heavy duty foil and wrap it completely. Do NOT wash it before wrapping. Be sure every bit of the celery is covered by the foil and it is closed tightly. It lasts at least 3 weeks. Be sure each time you open to take a stalk or two out, that you re-wrap it tightly again. (That is when I rinse the celery, too. NOT before I wrap it.)
I have a friend who buys the large bags of Romaine at Costco and rinses it all. Then dries it on paper towels until it is completely dry and stores it in a large aluminum bowl w/ clean dry paper towels up the sides and over the top. then plastic wrap over that. Sounds like the same idea as the spoon in the cut up lettuce.
Also I have heard that tomatoes do much better stored on the counter and NOT in the fridge. It really does work!

CarolQ on 10.30.2013

This may sound really weird but if you open that box of already cut greens as soon as you get home and place a metal spoon in the middle of the greens, it will last almost forever. Something about the metal getting so cold n the refrigerator and helping to keep he greens good . . . or something. But it works – even in an ice chest!

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    Erika (TK) on 11.1.2013

    That is so cool, Carol! My mom taught me to put a spoon or fork in the pot when making soup with beef chunks. She said it helps raise the temperature of the water because the temperature of the metal utensil keeps rising above the water’s boiling temperature. I’ve never measured it to confirm, but her beef was always so tender and I like doing the same because, well, I always listen to my mommy. :)

Mrs. A on 10.30.2013

One of my favorite tips is to buy celery (preferably when it’s on sale!), cut it up in small pieces and freeze it in freezer bags. It’s convenient to have on hand for soups and casseroles. I usually keep a few stalks to use fresh but most of it goes in the freezer. I used to throw away a lot of celery but no more.

Judy on 10.30.2013

I really do believe in those ‘green bags’. They have helped extend the life of my produce for sure. And my nephew, who has a BS in Plant Science, says that it really is true that “one bad apple can spoil the entire bunch”. In other words, if you have a banana that is overly ripe, don’t leave it in the bunch that is markedly more viable. And tomatoes – check them for spots, and don’t leave them all grouped together. These tips really do make a difference.

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CodieD on 10.30.2013

I like to crisp lettuce back up in my salad spinner. I found it has worked for herbs, green beans and snow peas too. I learned this trick as a prep cook for a restaurant. (I used to bang the core/bottom of iceberg lettuce on a table, pull out the core, and soak the whole heads of lettuce in a huge bucket of ice water)

Wash lettuce, chop, throw in salad spinner, fill with ice cold water (cold water from tap works fine), let sit for a few min. or longer, lift basket out and dump the water, spin dry and you have crunchy lettuce again! There is a point where the lettuce is so wilty you can’t bring it back. You can use it all right away or store some in baggies in the fridge.

For beans: snap the stem ends off, throw in spinner with cold water for a while, remove water, then spin dry.

CarinaRdz on 10.30.2013

I recently started to freeze fresh herbs in ice cube trays but I did mine with water, not butter or oil. I can’t imagine that butter or oil would work well for freezing. All I did was cut up the herbs, stuff them into an ice cube tray then top off with water. So far it’s been successful!

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Darlene on 10.30.2013

To store basil, parsley, cilantro etc, simple put them in a glass or jar of water (like putting flowers in a vase). They will last quite a while just on the counter. And if you are lucky them may sprout roots and you can plant them in your garden.

Also, a little tip for you potted basil; when they start to flower hack them off leaving only a few inches (with a leaf or two) and they will grow back twice as full. I just found this out last month and my basil is still going strong.

nicole d on 10.30.2013

pick up a copy of “how to pick a peach” by russ parsons. it’s a beautiful book and serves basically as a guide to maximizing the life of your produce. also, this product is kind of amazing: if you’re willing to spend a bit for the sheets, you end up throwing away SO much less produce.
the vinegar method on berries works wonders, as well!

Monica M on 10.30.2013

For Asparagus they last longer if you put them upright in water, like flowers. I usually do it in my glass measuring cup. Just enough water to cover the bottom 1 or 2 inches of the stalks. Then set them on the shelf in the refrigerator.

Julie on 10.30.2013

If you rinse berries in a vinegar/water solution they will last twice as long. I do this all the time now with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

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    Nanci (TK) on 10.30.2013

    Cool, I’ll try that Julie. I was telling Erika that raspberries really frustrate me because they go bad after only a day or two (at least for me). Thank you!

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Erika (TK) on 10.30.2013

I love all the comments so far! I’m learning so much and I’m already looking forward to the next market trip with renewed hope. Thanks!

EileenLS on 10.30.2013

I have found that a bunch of basil put into a vase or jar of water will keep on the counter top for a good couple of weeks. And it smells so good! Makes it easy to remember it’s there so I use it, too.

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    Betsy (TK) on 10.30.2013

    I love this one! And forget to do it. Thanks, Eileen!

Laura on 10.30.2013

The tip about romaine hearts works great for all greens. You know that lousy pre-wash salad mix that comes in plastic bins? We could never find any fresh enough to last even a week. Usually it was growing things by day 5. Now if we buy the exact same product, we put two or three paper towels in the container on day 1 ( two along the sides, one on top) and it can last ten days or even two weeks if we’re lucky!

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    Nanci (TK) on 10.30.2013

    Great idea, Laura! As Erika mentioned in her post, I’m all about the big packages of salad greens. Thanks for the tip!

LisaH on 10.30.2013

Bell Peppers – if you have an abundance of them at the end of the season…

– you may core and seed them. Stuff the hollowed inside of them with wax paper and drop them into a freezer ziplock bag. They keep very well and may be pulled and stuffed later for stuffed peppers. You may also slice them and add them post-freezing to recipes. You’ll keep the garden-fresh flavor without the hassle of having to cook them prior to freezing.

Karen B on 10.30.2013

I’m 55 so I’ve been cooking a long time. A couple years ago I received as gifts an onion, tomato and lemon plastic keeper. I have been amazed how long these containers have kept everything fresh. I use them all the time.

lynn on 10.30.2013

Celery wrapped in tinfoil stores beautifully!