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Apr 5, 2007 04:57 PM

When Bad Things Happen to Good Vegetables: Your food storage tips?

Some of us may be guilty of buying too much produce or other perishables, for reasons like "great sale price" or "looks awesome" or "I'll use that real soon" or "shopping when hungry", etc. Then, the rotating problem becomes how to keep it close to its peak of freshness.

What are your storage tips? Along with veggies, please include things like opened cheese, cream or wine that partially are unused.

A few of mine, but I'm hoping for others:

Parsley and cilantro: Sling it dry when choosing it at the produce bin, and wrap in several paper towels (which they provide overhead) before bagging.

Chunk cheese: once it's opened from its tight factory wrapper, it can mold in just a few weeks, no matter the expire date. Solution: add a silica gel pack wrapped in paper towel and store in ziploc.

Celery: need some tips here. Also, taters, onions. Also, cabbage that has been halved or quartered.

Your tips are welcomed.

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  1. ahem silca packs next to my cheese? I do not buy pre-packed cheese, unless it is a throwaway cheese for a cheap recipe. And so, I seldom have storage probs. I buy what ai plan to eat and not to worry. If I have a bigger piece, it is a hard cheese and that does well...and if lasts long, ends up in Mac and Cheese.

    If I over buy a perishable veggie, I think, how can I freeze this? Some things I freeze straight out. Some things I puree in a small amount of water and ic-cube tray freeze it. This works great for parsley and such. Take a cube out and toss in the pot. Some veggies I saute first, like mushrooms, so it is also a quick add to a rushed meal.

    My taters and onions stay well in open dark spaces, or in bottom of refrig.
    I learned a LONG time ago, a good deal is not a great deal if you buy too much and throw some away.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Quine

      Air == bad. Even when I buy a small amount of cheese I will stick it in the Foodsaver and suck out the air. Leave a little bit of bag leftover and suck the air out /reseal each time I open.

      Air == bad. Vacuvin wine saver works very very well to keep wine for a few days. Most tests have shown better results than nitrogen purge systems and WAY cheaper. Don't over pump or you such pull out the alcohol & volatiles.

      Air == bad. Whether it is leftover or fresh, meat sealed in a Foodsaver bag is the in-home equivalent of a cyrovac/boil-in-bag. Makes buying meat A LOT more cost effective and cooking large quanties for leftovers no worry.

      Firm vegetable, like onions, beans & cabbage do fine in the vacuum system.

      The units are not very expensive at all, and the bags are a good value as long as you don't waste them on low value foods. There are also similar systems that rely on glass containers too.

    2. 1. Cheese: leave in the ref w/ no packaging. The defrost mechanism simply dries and further "cures" them. Never any spoilage. Even a cheese that eventually gets rock hard will remain good for grating. This obviously doesn't work for soft cheeses.
      2. Spuds and onions: free in a cool, dark, clean place. Needs to be free of roaches.
      3. Halved or quartered cabbage: tightly cover the cut sides with plastic wrap. Will extend life a bit.
      4. Celery in the veg bin in plastic bag with holes. You might store tops and stalks separately.
      5. For greens, less water from washing or whatever is best. Some stuff from the store can benefit from shaking and air drying, or even spinning (actually, I use a dedicated pillow case). Don't crowd th bags of leafy greens in the fridge.

      1. For celery, wrap it in foil. I don't know why but it works. Lasts for so much longer than in a bag.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wendy8869

          YES YES YES this works beautifully.

        2. I was stunned at how well these bags lengthened the life of all my veggies and fruits.

          I have some arugula that is over 3 weeks old that is as perky as the day I bought it.

          You do NOT need to buy them from this website, but this is the best price I found.

          They are reusable and last about 6 months before they don't "hold" as well.

          1. Extralife disks. I SWEAR by these things: I used to get them at Wild Oats, although can't find them there now. I've seen them at Whole Foods and most recently at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

            We're in a co-op and I'd have spinach, chard, lettuce, etc. in my veggie drawer for 2 weeks with no degradation of quality.

            Also the trick rworange posted last year about storing things (strawberries) etc, in glass jars is a golden tip. There are a few threads, if you search for "glass jar" on this board, here's one:

            7 Replies
            1. re: Chris VR

              I'd have to find the link, but I got that tip about glass jars from a long ago Chowhound post. Here's the digest article.

              It is amazing how much produce this works on. Never thought to try a cut onion, but I'm going to test that out tommorrow.

              And I have to agree with SO many other people ... celery wrapped in aluminum foil will keep weeks and weeks.

              1. re: rworange

                dumb question: does the lid have to be glass as well? Like those jars with a hinged top or do metal and plastic lids work fine?

                1. re: alex8alot

                  How funny -- was just going to post today to remind people that it's strawberry season, so don't forget the glass jar trick. Metal lids are fine -- I'm not sure about plastic. It has something to do with the fact that glass (and metal) are non-porous and don't allow "respiration" of the moisture from the contents.

                  1. re: alex8alot

                    Yeah, what Ruth said. I usually use mason jars with metal lids. However I haven't noticed much difference using a few jars with plastic lids ... maybe because of the small surface area.

                    Just an aside, the cut onion quarter I put about a week ago in a glass jar looks just fine ... and it keeps the onion odor out of the fridge.

                    1. re: rworange

                      thanks. I need to find a use for all the mayonnaise and pickle jars that are cluttering up my kitchen. Now my husband can't accuse me of keeping them around just to make him go bonkers.

                      1. re: alex8alot

                        Yup. I find myself looking at an empty jar and thinking "is that a good size and shape to put fruit in?"

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          you can get glass containers esp made for food storage at IKEA (or $$$ at williams-sonoma)-- i really like them, just don't think of it as $30 for a bunch of tupperware, think of getting rid of all that junk. they are made to stack on top of each other and i swear that just being able to see what's 1/2 of a yellow pepper and what's monday's leftovers right thru the glass means that food doesn't get "forgotten" in the fridge very often! makes prepping easy, fridge more organized, and they have more surface area on the bottom than the sides, so your strawberries, sandwich, lasagna, whatever won't get squashed.