You went to the farmers market and brought home a colorful riot of summer’s best organic, non-GMO produce: Berries, melons, peaches and plums, tomatoes, corn, summer squash, leafy greens and herbs. Or perhaps you opened the box from your CSA to find a brilliant array of fruits and vegetables you’ve never seen before. The Internet is teeming with recipes for how to prepare them, but how do you store these summer gems? Here’s how to keep the season’s best herbs, fruits and vegetables at their peak as long as possible.
Basil, Parsley and Cilantro
Trim the stems and place in a glass filled with a few inches of water, and set on the counter out of direct sunlight. Replace the water daily; the herbs will keep for up to a week. Basil does best at room temperature; parsley and cilantro can be wrapped in a damp cloth and sealed in a bag or container in the fridge for up to a week.
To keep beets firm and flavorful, cut the tops off and place in an open container covered with a damp towel in the refrigerator. Don’t throw the greens away! Wrap them in a damp paper towel and place in an airtight container or re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use the greens within three days, beets within two weeks.
Say goodbye to moldy berries with this tip adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: Rinse berries in a mild vinegar solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Dry on paper towels; don’t let easily bruised berries touch each other. When dry, gently place berries in an airtight container or paper bag lined with dry paper towels, ideally in a single layer, and refrigerate.
To freeze, dry completely (hull any green stems), place on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Transfer to airtight containers or re-sealable plastic bags and store up to six months.
Wrap in a damp cloth, place in an open container and store in the refrigerator.
Carrots keep longer with the tops removed. Store in a sealed container wrapped in a damp cloth. To revive wilting carrots, submerge in ice water.
Store cherries in an airtight container and wash shortly before eating.
Corn is best eaten the day it’s picked! If you must, store un-shucked corn in an open container or plastic bag in the refrigerator for two days.
Lettuce and Leafy Greens
After removing elastic bands and twist ties, wrap greens in a damp cloth and place in the vegetable drawer, an airtight container or re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator. Greens like kale, collards and chard can also be stored in a glass of water on the counter or in the fridge. Most are best used within three days.
Place uncut melons in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They keep for one to two weeks. Store cut melon in a closed container in the refrigerator.
Store peppers in the produce drawer and wash immediately before use. Keep dry, as moisture will encourage spoilage.
Firm stone fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots ripen well on a cool counter and are best eaten when they begin to soften and smell sweet.
Zucchini, yellow squash and other summer squashes can be left on a cool counter for a few days. For longer storage, wrap in a cloth or store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tomatoes lose their flavor and become mealy in the refrigerator. Store on a plate or in an uncovered bowl on the counter.
Lastly, you might like FreshPaper
These chemical-free, eco-friendly sheets help fruits and vegetables stay fresh up to two times longer; they can be used in a producer drawer, container or bag. FreshPaper is made with edible, organic ingredients like fenugreek, which inhibits bacteria and mold. The sheets are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. A package of eight costs $4 here.
Text by Clean Plates contributor Lisa Roberts-Lehan.