Think about how produce is displayed at the grocery store. There are refrigerated sections that mist every so often and the open displays on islands in the middle of the rows. Basically, you want to emulate the same conditions at home. It comes down to whether or not moisture is friend or foe when storing a particular vegetable.
The ideal temperature for your refrigerator is between 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit. Items like lettuce and greens store for a week or so and other items will last for several weeks. Vegetables freeze well so if know you’re not going to get to something, freeze it! That way you can enjoy a taste of summer in the dead of winter or next spring while waiting for summer’s bounty to arrive. You can also explore preserving through pickling or canning. These are all great ways to enjoy good local produce year-round and stretch your hard-earned dollars.
In the Fridge –
As a general rule, store the following veggies in the fridge in a plastic bag that is tied loosely at the top to help keep the moisture in.
- Arugula – line plastic bag with a paper towel and stick in the crisper.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Carrots (detach green tops)
- Green beans (in a sealed plastic bag)
- Green Onions (in a sealed plastic bag)
- Greens (Chard, Collards, Kale) – line plastic bag with a paper towel and stick in the crisper.
- Lettuce – line plastic bag with a paper towel, stick in the crisper and keep away from fruit.
- Spinach – line plastic bag with a paper towel and stick in the crisper.
- Snap Peas
- Summer Squash (zucchini, patty-pan)
- Tomatillo (if husks are on store in paper bag)
In the Fridge – These do well in the crisper drawer – no bag needed
- Beets (separate and store beet greens as you would other greens)
Store at Room Temperature
- Tomatoes –Tempting as it might be to chill them, don’t do it! You’ll dampen the flavor and they’ll turn mealy.
- Peppers – sweet and hot
Store in a Cool Dry Place with Good Ventilation
- Onions – store away from potatoes
- Potatoes – store away from light
- Winter Squash
How to Store Your Culinary Herbs
There are a couple of ways to store fresh herbs.
Treat them like cut flowers. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the stems and place them in a glass of water (or other container). Set them on the counter if you plan on using them that day or next, otherwise cover the herbs in the glass of water (pull a plastic bag over them) and put them in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a week.
Store in a plastic bag. Treat them just as you would lettuce or greens, Wash and dry them. Wrap them in a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and store in the fridge.
Dry Them. Wrap the ends in kitchen twine and hang them up to dry in a place where they’ll get some good airflow. After a few weeks, you can store them as you would dry herbs you might buy at the store.
Another method for drying herbs is in the oven. Heat your oven to 175 degrees. Lay the herbs out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and leave the oven door open a little bit. This will allow for air circulation and keep the herbs from baking. Dry for 30-60 minutes (longer if needed). Test for dryness, the dried leaves should crumble when you run them between your finger and thumb.