Vegetables storage

Vegetables always taste best when they are freshly harvested.  However, the flavour and texture of vegetables tend to degrade quickly, which is why it’s important to store your vegetables properly.  Storing fresh produce the right way will not only keep them fresh and safe to eat, but also retains the great flavour.  Moreover, it reduces food waste!

Did you know? Some fresh produce need to be stored in the refrigerator, some need to be ripen before storing in the refrigerator, and some are best stored at room temperature or in a cool dry place.

Here are some effective storage tips to keep various types of vegetables fresher for longer!

How to store leafy vegetables?

Leafy vegetablesspinach

Leafy vegetables include lettuce, spinach, kai lan, choy sum, nai pak, etc.  Leafy vegetables tend to wilt easily if they are not handled properly when you bring them home from the market or farm.  However, if you store them correctly, they can last for one week or so.

Here are 5 simple steps to keep most of the leafy vegetables fresh for longer period:

  1. Remove the rotten part of the leafy vegetables right when you get home.
  2. Dry the leafy vegetables thoroughly.
  • The greens tend to rot quickly if there is excess moisture.
  • To dry the leafy vegetables, you may use a salad spinner. If you do not have one, here is another trick that anyone can do at no cost – gently set them on a dry, clean washcloth and fold them over until each leaf is individually wrapped up.  Then, shake the water off to the cloth and the greens are nice and dry!
  1. Wrap them loosely in a paper towel.
  • DO NOT pack the greens in tightly, as this will cause them to rot quickly.
  1. Put them in a container or a reusable food storage bag.
  2. Store them in the refrigerator.

How to store root vegetables?

Most of the root vegetables should be stored at room temperature, rather than cold storage.  High humidity in refrigerators causes rot and storing root vegetables together can actually affect the flavour.  The ways of storing may vary according to the types of root vegetables.   Here are the simple steps of storing some of the most popular root vegetables.

Beetroots:

  1. Cut the tops off.
  2. Brush off any soil, but do not wash them.
  • This is to prevent the moisture loss from the roots, which will keep them fresh for longer.
  1. Store them in an open container with a damp towel or paper towel set over the top. Do not refrigerate.

Potatoes, Sweet potatoes:

  1. Brush off any soil. Let them sit to dry out a bit before storing.
  2. Store them in ventilated baskets, or a cardboard box with holes punched on it. Keep the container covered to prevent sprouting.
  3. Put it at a cool, dark, dry place. Make sure they are stored in a low-light, low-temperature environment, but not in the fridge.

Note: Keep your POTATOES and ONIONS SEPARATED! This is because both potatoes and onions release moisture and gases which will cause the other to spoil faster.

Garlic, Onions:

  1. Remove the foliage.
  2. Brush off any soil.
  3. Store them in a mesh produce bag.
  4. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place with good air circulation. Do not refrigerate.

How to store cruciferous vegetables?

broccoli squareCruciferous vegetables

Cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbage, etc. are cruciferous vegetables that we usually include on our plates.  Here are the best ways to store them:

Broccoli:

To refrigerate:

  1. Submerge the broccoli, stem down, stand them up in a container filled with water. Cover the broccoli head loosely with a plastic bag with holes.  Change the water daily. This method helps to keep the bunch fresh and crisp for 5 – 7 days.

OR

  1. Cover the head of broccoli with a moist paper towel.
  2. Seal your broccoli in the bag with numerous holes near the head of broccoli to ensure good air flow.
  3. Keep the broccoli refrigerated.

To freeze:

  1. Cut washed broccoli into small pieces.
  2. Steam or blanch for about 3 minutes. Drain and dry.
  3. Place in sealed bags or containers.
  4. Store for few months.

Cauliflower:

To refrigerate:

  1. Keep the head of cauliflower in an open storage bag, keep the stem-side up, with a paper towel tucked in to absorb excess moisture.

To freeze:

  1. Lay out the florets on cooking sheets.
  2. Place in freezer.
  3. Once they’re ice cold, put them in sealed bags or containers, back in the freezer. Store for few months

How to store fruit vegetables?

eggplant

Fruit vegetables include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, etc.  Here are some of tips of storing some of the popular fruit vegetables.

Tomatoes:

  • For unripe tomatoes, do not refrigerate. Store them stem side down, ideally in a single layer out of direct sunlight.  Place in a cool area (room temperature) until they turn red in colour.
  • Cold temperatures can affect the flavour and texture of tomatoes, causing them soft and mushy.
  • For ripe tomatoes, store them stem side up. Make sure they’re in a single layer, not touching one another.  They should be kept at room temperature away from sunlight.
  • For over-ripe tomatoes, they are best kept in the refrigerator. The cold temperatures will keep the tomatoes from ripening more, and they should last for another three days.

Eggplants:

  • Keep eggplants in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight, at room temperature.
  • Avoid sealing it in a plastic bag, which can cause decay.

Note: Keep eggplants stored separately from bananas, tomatoes, and melons, which are all high ethylene producers, because eggplants are highly sensitive to ethylene which will cause them to ripe very quickly.

Info adapted from:

  1. Here’s How to Store Pretty Much Any Kind of Produce (https://www.self.com/story/heres-how-to-store-pretty-much-any-kind-of-produce)
  2. How to Properly Store Root Vegetables in the Kitchen (https://harvestright.com/blog/2015/how-to-properly-store-root-vegetables-in-the-kitchen/ )
  3. Keep Your Onions & Potatoes Separated And Other Tips For Storing Fruits & Vegetables (https://www.consumerreports.org/consumerist/keep-your-onions-garlic-separated-and-other-tips-for-storing-fruits-vegetables/)
  4. This Is The Best Way to Store Tomatoes (https://www.popsugar.com/food/How-Store-Tomatoes-18676736)