Storing Produce - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-14-2006, 05:22 PM
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I tried to use the search function on the forum and didn't have any luck finding what I was looking for, so if there's already a thread on this somewhere, please feel free to link me to it.



I'm thinking part of the reason my produce (fruits and veggies) seem to go bad so quickly is that I might be storing some of it incorrectly.



What's the best way to store different types of produce? Which types should be stored in the fridge, and which should be stored at room temperature (in a basket on the counter or something)?



Also, today at the store, I came across some eggplants, and thought about picking one up and trying out something new. (I've never eaten or prepared eggplant.) I realized I had no idea how to pick a "good" one. How do you choose a good eggplant, and how should they be stored? How long to they keep?



Thanks in advance!
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#2 Old 01-14-2006, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking View Post

Eggplants should feel heavy and firm to the touch, with glossy, unblemished skins. They will keep well in the salad drawer of the fridge for up to two weeks.

Alton Brown of Good Eats also says it's a good idea to choose a male eggplant over a female eggplant if you can, I think because females are seedier. If you have the opportunity to watch that episode, he shows you how to tell the difference, but I was never able to apply it at the store.



Most sources also recommend salting the eggplant before using it to draw out extra moisture and bitterness.



There are lots of different recommendations for different vegetables. That's where a vegetable book comes in handy. But most vegetables do best if kept in an environment that's not too dry, but not closely wrapped enough to allow condensation to form. Loose plastic wrap or a plastic produce bag left open works well.



Off the top of my head, tomatoes are best kept at room temperature and usually they're better if you let them ripen a few days before you use them.



Cucumbers will keep a long time if they are the precisely correct temperature (I think it's just lightly warmer than most refrigerators, like 42 F or csomething) but otherwise, they tend to go bad very quickly.



Greens are best washed, dried very well, and loosely wrapped or placed in a plastic carton that's not quite airtight.



Onions, potatoes, and other root vegetables do best in a drier environment than other veggies. They also don't need to be kept as cold. Ideally, they'd be in a root cellar, but who has a root cellar these days? The ever-trustworthy Alton Brown suggests keeping them in a bin of sterilized dirt in the fridge, if you have room.
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#3 Old 01-14-2006, 06:17 PM
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maybe you're just buying too much produce at once. How quickly is it going bad?



As for the eggplant, I think the male female difference has to do the a dimple on the non-stem end off the fruit. I don't know the specifics but I think that is where to look.
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#4 Old 01-14-2006, 06:29 PM
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That's where you look. One of them has something that resembles the navel on a navel orange, and the other has a more spread out feature, but I can't remember which is which, and when I looked in the grocery store, a lot of them looked sort of in-betweenish.
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#5 Old 01-14-2006, 07:07 PM
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females are more long-shaped, and males are more rounded.



not sure how accurate that is, though...
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#6 Old 01-14-2006, 08:50 PM
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I think this thread was a good idea and thanks to everyone with all the good info. Im taking notes

I had this same problem too. I never saw anyone in my family picking out ripe fruit or storing anything more then white potatoes. Most cook books dont talk much about how to pick good produce or how to store. Every now and then ill see an article about it, usually just about one specific food. For me its just been pretty much luck. Usually I just pick one that looks good, and I seem to get lucky. On occasion ive tried to 'smell' fruit, but Im not really sure what im sniffing for, I end up feeling like im only doing it so everyone else thinks I know what I'm doing, and Im not just some weirdo randomly fondling the fruits

I read everything about picking and storing fresh foods that I can find, but sadly there isnt much.

I did read that male eggplants are less bitter due to less seeds and that you can tell by the 'knotch' on the bottom ... one sex its more of + and the other is more of a - (but i dont remember which one is which). However it also that for the most part eggplants have been selectively bred to breed the bitter out of them.



I have a problem with the cherry or maybe they are grape?? tomatoes, they keep going bad, getting moldy and squishy after just a few days on the counter and they seem bitter to me. Anyone have any advice on them? I have bought the ones in the little container, so they are preselected. should they go in the fridge? i read not to put them in the fridge. How long do they last for everyone else? mine usually go bad in less then a week, about three or four days Any ideas?
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#7 Old 01-14-2006, 09:07 PM
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/shock



i always put tomatoes in the fridge :S
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#8 Old 01-14-2006, 10:24 PM
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I store most of my produce in the fridge, unless I want fruit to ripen first. So, usually, apples go in the fridge, kiwis stay out (unless they're really ripe). I would put tomatoes in the fridge.



Notable exception to this are onions, garlic, and potatoes. They go in a cupboard. Generally, you want to keep your produce out of direct sunlight or heat.



On how to pick 'em... well, it really does depend on the kind of fruit or veg, and on your personal tastes as well.

Examples:

1.Courgettes (note for Americans: zucchinis) and cucumber have to be firm, otherwise they have already started to go bad. Same goes for apples.



2.Peaches or kiwis, though can be either firm or slightly soft, depending whether you prefer them ripe or unripe. Like bananas, only there you have the colour (green or yellow with black spots) as an indicator too.



For more specific guidelines, one would have to talk seperately about each kind of fruit or veg, really. Generally, you should look at everything, including size, colour, firmness, marks or brown spots, texture. It differs from the one to the other: I'd buy the largest pepper, but go for the medium-sized courgette (big ones are too seedy). I know it sounds like a lot of info to take in, but eventually it'll become second nature if you start paying attention. Good luck and let as know if you have specific questions!
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#9 Old 01-14-2006, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaz View Post

/shock



i always put tomatoes in the fridge :S

Try leaving them on the counter a few days before you use them. I bet you'll be amazed at the difference! This is why you hear people (especially oldtimers) go on and on about the home-grown tomatoes they used to eat straight from the garden "back in the good ol' days." They were never refrigerated. Modern tomatoes are rarely fully ripe when you buy them, either, because they're bred for sturdiness and picked super early.



FatboyLovesTofu, about 3-5 days is the longest I'd want to leave the tomatoes on the counter. If you haven't used them up in 5 days, you got too many (or you need to plan more uses for them-- I can use up a whole carton of cherry tomatoes in one meal by sauteeing them with basil and putting them over pasta! ). Not much produce will be worth eating after more than a week.



Here's a rough guideline of what I know about durability:



Things that will keep more than a week:

Potatoes/sweet potatoes

Onions/shallots/garlic

Cabbage

Carrots

Winter squashes



Things that might last about a week:

Tomatoes

Peppers

Summer squashes

Prewashed & dried spinach

Broccoli



Things that should be used up quickly (1-3 days):

Bunch spinach (washing, drying and repacking it will help it last longer)

Green beans

Leeks

Cauliflower

Beets (my veggie book says they'll last 2 weeks, but I've had problems with them going really fast)
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#10 Old 01-15-2006, 07:58 PM
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Thanks for all the great info everyone!!
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#11 Old 01-15-2006, 08:26 PM
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If you store a lot of your produce in the fridge maybe your fridge isn't set correctly, or maybe it doesn't regulate temperature that well. I had a fridge once that had a huge swing in operating temperature.
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#12 Old 01-16-2006, 04:20 PM
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Zowie, tesseract. I've never had a problem with keeping beets fresh....



Some have sucess keeping them "buried" in a stoarage bowl with clean, fine grade sand in it (about enough to cover the beets by 1-2"). Maybe you could try that? *shrug*



For greens (like chard, kale, and even herbs), I like to wash them, dry them well and wrap them in kitchen paper/paper towles and store them in a zipper-topped bag in the crisper drawer. I find they stay fresher a bit longer.



My tomatoes, I sorta have to keep in the frige, too. The counter thing just made them too icky to eat after a day or so (although the fruit flies had no complaints about it... ).
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#13 Old 01-16-2006, 04:28 PM
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That's so weird... I have the opposite situtation from you. My tomatoes do fine on the counter for up to 5-6 days, but my darn beets were turning soft and rubbery like old carrots after just 2-3 days in the fridge!



I think a lot of the tomato situation may be related to relative humidity-- do your tomatoes turn moldy, or into wrinkled sacks of skin? I live in a quite humid climate where I don't have to run the heater much during the winter, so my tomatoes aren't subjected to a lot of drying effects while sitting out.



I've actually considered just filling my bottom produce drawer with sterilized sand or soil and burying all my root veggies in it.
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#14 Old 01-16-2006, 05:01 PM
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I'm in a cold but wet climate that's not that humid (not like it is in the south, anyway) so I think there might be something about humidity and tomato counter life. Mine go mushy and wrinkly after a while and yea we do run the heat a lot in winter so I'm sure they don't exactly have the *best* enviroment to try to survive in...



I think the produce drawer idea is fabbo. I only wonder how easy it would be to clean the drawers between times, though (sand isn't exactly light stuff, I've found) and how it would affect storage of the other vegetables. I also wonder about the sand going "everywhere" (unless you don't cook like a whirling dervish like I tend to do at times.... ). Ok, so I'm wondering a lot of things, but only because I find the idea of a sand-filled "root keeper" to be most intregueing.
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#15 Old 01-17-2006, 01:08 PM
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root veggies stay out of the fridge. apples go into the fridge, tomatoes do not. while apples get CRISPY, tomatoes get MEALY..
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#16 Old 01-17-2006, 02:02 PM
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I often have the same problem with produce going bad. I just bought some produce bags at the HFS last week that claim to keep produce fresh for up to 5 times longer. It should be interesting to see what happens!

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#17 Old 01-17-2006, 04:40 PM
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At home I stored fruit and veg a little different from what we do at work. I kept kumara, potato and white onions in a cool, dry place (food cupboard/pantry) and oranges and bananas I put in a fruit bowl, other than that it goes in the fridge (ie. apples, courgettes, peppers, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, beans, leek).



Foods like grapes, spring onions, lettuce and sprouts really need to be in a fridge, otherwise you can store anything else in a cool, dry place. If half used then pop it in the fridge. Keep an eye on your produce and don't leave too long, and you should be fine.



As for the eggplant, if I were at home, I would just place it in the veggie cooler in the fridge. Definately refridgerate it if it is half used (and wrap it in cling wrap).
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#18 Old 01-17-2006, 06:04 PM
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When I get home from the grocery, I put any herbs or greens that were sprayed with water by the grocer on the counter to dry out. This includes cilantro, kale, spinach, etc. I can keep properly dried greens in the frig for a remarkably long time without spoiling. Sure, they get a bit wilted, but that's the extent of the damage. However, if produce goes in damp, bacterial action takes over and it's mush in a few days. As a general rule, I put everything possible in the frig except stuff that obviously doesn't need refrigeration, like dried beans, and stuff that needs to stay out to ripen.
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#19 Old 01-25-2006, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdufstuff View Post

maybe you're just buying too much produce at once. How quickly is it going bad?



As for the eggplant, I think the male female difference has to do the a dimple on the non-stem end off the fruit. I don't know the specifics but I think that is where to look.



I try not to buy more than I'll eat in a week. Celery seems to go limp within a couple of days. My leafy greens turn brown within 3-5 days. Cucumbers get soft in a couple of days.



Maybe part of the problem is that it's Winter, so the produce isn't as fresh when I buy it in the first place? I grow a lot of my own in the warmer months, so it's always fresh!
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#20 Old 01-25-2006, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdufstuff View Post

If you store a lot of your produce in the fridge maybe your fridge isn't set correctly, or maybe it doesn't regulate temperature that well. I had a fridge once that had a huge swing in operating temperature.



Well, my fridge IS ancient, so I certainly wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's not functioning properly. Of course, the fact that I have no idea what the proper settings are could be part of the problem. Suggestions?
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#21 Old 01-28-2006, 05:34 PM
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Check out the VEGE-SAVERS at this Web site: simplyorganicproducts.com . I use them for all types of produce and fruit even! They work great!
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