Fridge vs. Counter: Where Do Your Fruits & Veggies Belong?

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With the “eat local” craze now becoming mainstream, I find myself with more and more fresh fruits and veggies (YUM!). Five years ago—before Whole Foods and farmers markets had really come into themselves in Somerville—the freezer section was my go-to. I was living by myself (and leftovers only last so long), and I’d read all about how frozen produce was more nutritious than fresh produce.

But that was five years ago. Now I—and my partner in cooking Mat—go to our local farmers market in the square. We were starting to wash and store all of our goodies today when we disagreed about whether cukes belonged in the fruit bowl on the counter or in the produce drawer in the fridge. Then we couldn’t help questioning how to store everything we’d bought!

I spent a lot (maybe too much) time researching this today, collecting what seemed like endless perspectives on storage, and ultimately decided this:

  1. Mat and I aren’t the only ones who disagree about cucumber storage: This cook swears wrapping cukes in paper towels and keeping them in the fridge makes them last longer, while UC Davis says cold accelerates cucumber decay. For now, I’m following UC Davis’ lead and keeping our cucumbers on the counter.
  2. Tomatoes don’t like the cold—on or off the vine—and should be stored on the counter out of direct sunlight and away from those sensitive cukes.
  3. Raspberries are very fragile and should be stored in a single layer in a closed container in the fridge.
  4. Broccoli is a bit more high maintenance. You should mist the heads (don’t wash the broccoli or anything you put in the fridge!), wrap them loosely in damp paper towels, and refrigerate.
  5. When you’re lucky enough to buy fresh beets, you’ve got two things to worry about storing: the beet root and the beet greens. Cut the greens, leaving about 2 inches of stem attached. The greens don’t keep well, so you should use them the day you buy them. The roots, on the other hand, can be kept sealed in the fridge for over a week.
  6. Keep curly kale and leafy greens in tupperware in the fridge. Remember: DON’T rinse first.

Mint.com, Real Simple, and Food Network have more extensive lists of what to do with each type of produce…but of course they don’t always agree. That’d be way too convenient.

I’m thinking of moving to a daily grocery run to avoid produce rot all together…

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4 thoughts on “Fridge vs. Counter: Where Do Your Fruits & Veggies Belong?

  1. I actually disagree a bit with number 5. I don’t know what you mean about beet roots being “sealed” in the fridge, but I keep mine in a bowl or jar of water (loosely, because they will soak up some of the water and expand) in the fridge, and they can last weeks that way. As far as the beet greens, I wrap them in a damp cotton towel/handkerchief (thickness doesn’t matter) and keep the whole bundle in a breathable tupperware (like berries come in at the grocery store)., and keep them in the fridge for a week, or more if you don’t eat them fast enough. That’s good to know about broccoli though–I’ve never been able to keep it fresh and moist long. I’m going to try that now.

    • Kristen, thanks for sharing your beet routine—everything I wrote here, I found through research, but there’s nothing better than a first-hand account. Do you find the beets soak up any of the fridge “flavor” when you leave them uncovered in there?

      • I’ve never noticed any weird flavor the fridge could impart. I just rinse them off with fresh water when I want to use them because they’ll leak some of their color to the storage water.

  2. Pingback: To Be French | Put It In My Mouth

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