There’s no match for the flavor of a vegetable cooked on the same day it’s picked. Vegetables are still alive even after harvest, and that’s why their quality changes so quickly once removed from the field. That’s a big part of why our vegetables taste so good- they’re fresh, straight from our garden to you! So you’re already off to a good start when you choose our produce. Still, you probably won’t be able to eat all your veggies in one day, so here are some tips as to how to keep them in the best shape possible, for as long as possible.
First, make sure you start with a clean storage space. We’ve all heard that “one rotten apple spoils the barrel”, well that’s true for fridges as well. Remove old leaves or dirt from fridge drawers and counter tops and wash with soap before filling them with your fresh produce. Lining fridge drawers with an absorbent material such as a dishcloth or paper towel helps to avoid problems of condensation, which encourages microbial development.
Second, watch their storage temperature. At the farm, we hydro-cool most of our produce as soon as it comes out of the field to maintain that freshly picked taste, but it’s important for you, too, to continue with appropriate storage conditions to get the most out of your veggies. Keep in mind that different vegetables prefer different storage conditions. Vegetables native to a temperate climate like we have here (ex. carrots, cabbage) store the best at just above freezing conditions (1-2 degrees Celsius). Vegetables native to tropical climates (ex. tomatoes, squash, beans), however, are injured by such low temperatures, and store best at just below room temperature (about 10 degrees Celsius).
Here you can find detailed instructions as to how to best store some our favorite crops:
Basil: Do not refrigerate basil! As many of us have come to know, the fridge’s cold temperature causes basil to quickly turn back and become slimy. The best way to store basil is to receive it still on the stem. Peel the bottom leaves off the stem so that you can place the stem in a small jar or water without putting leaves in contact with the water. Leave this set-up at room temperature (or just slightly cooler if possible). Wrap up the removed leaves in paper towel and place in bowl or plate, also at room temperature. In this way basil can be stored for up to a week. If you have more than you can eat in that time, consider making pesto or a herb butter.
Beets and Carrots: Cut off greens, leaving an inch of stem. Store beet leaves separately, unwashed in a closed plastic bag in the fridge. Store the roots unwashed, with the rootlets (or “tails”) still attached, in a bag in the crisper of your fridge. Will store for several weeks, but sweetness drops over time…
Broccoli and cauliflower: Keep broccoli in the crisper of your fridge, but not in a sealed bag, as it continues to respire after being harvested. Broccoli can be stored up to a week, but is most firm and tasty within the first three to four days.
Cabbage: Clever cabbage is already self-packaged with its waxy outer leaves. Keep cabbage anywhere in the fridge, and if outer leaves start to yellow, simply peel them off to reveal fresh inner leaves. Summer cabbage stores this way for a 3 to 4 weeks, while fall/storage cabbage can last several months.
Celeriac: Store unwashed celeriac in the crisper of your fridge, where it will stay fresh for many weeks.
Eggplant: Eggplant prefers to be stored at 10 degrees Celsuis, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most counters. Wrap eggplant in a clean dishtowel and keep in the warmest part of the fridge for best storage life.
Garlic: Depending on the variety, heads of garlic can stay in great shape 3-12 months after harvest (late July) in the right conditions. For long-term storage, a cool, dry and dark place is best. Or better yet, buy one of our garlic braids for a beautiful and functional way to store your year’s garlic supply.
Herbs: Store freshly cut herbs, with their stems still attached, upright in a small jar filled with 1-2 inches of water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag, and transfer to fridge, where they should store for 1-2 weeks. For smaller bunches you can also roll them up in paper towel and place the bundle in a plastic bag, and keep in the fridge’s vegetable bin for up to a week. **Basil is an exception!! See its very own entry above**
Kale and Swiss Chard: Keep dry, unwashed leaves in a plastic bag in the fridge. Kale will last a good two weeks, while swiss chard looses its freshness after 5 or 6 days.
Peppers:Place whole, unwashed peppers is a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for one to two weeks. Green peppers are unripe and will store longer than red, orange or yellow peppers.
Potatoes: New potatoes (small and thin-skinned) can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator. Storage potatoes, however, prefer to be kept at between 5-10 degrees Celsius, if not their starches will turn to sugar. Moisture causes potatoes to spoil, and light causes them to turn green (and become toxic!) so keep in a dark, well ventilated area.
Salad Greens: Our salad greens always come to you pre-washed, but a second thorough wash can always be helpful right before serving. If storing dry, store in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. If storing wet, roll the leaves loosely in a clean dishtowel, and put the whole bundle in a plastic bag, then into the crisper. Wet greens can spoil quickly without an absorbent material nearby. Mesclun can be stored happily 3-4 days, while lettuce up to a week or so.
Squash: Store winter squash in a cool, dark, place with good ventilation. It is important to keep them from freezing. Depending on the variety, squash can store from between 1 to 4 months and beyond. Once a squash has been cut, wrap the pieces in plastic and store in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
Tomatoes: Storing tomatoes is very much an art and depends on their state of ripeness. If your tomatoes smell fragrant and can be easily indented with light pressure, they are ripe and ready to use. If you can’t use them immediately, it is probably best to place in fridge to prevent spoiling on the counter. However, tomatoes are a tropical fruit, which prefer to be stored around 10 degrees Celsius, and the fridge will somewhat compromise the taste and texture of the fruit. If your tomatoes are not fully ripe, you can store them for a few days on the counter until they are. Putting dry tomatoes in a brown paper bag, or near apples or bananas, can speed up the ripening process.
Zucchinis and Patty pans: Our zucchini are fresh, and have not been covered by a waxy protection layer, so they keep on respiring through their skin. Refrigerate them as soon as possible, unwashed, in a perforated plastic bag, or a bag lined with paper towel, so as to ventilate or absorb condensation.