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Feb 15, 2008 07:11 AM

How do you keep your cut veggies fresh?

I would like to start cutting up my raw veggies over the weekend and then use them throughout the week. For those that do this, how do you keep your vegetables fresh (ie broccoli, celery, bell peppers). In particular, I have noticed that celery stored in a tupperware container turns bad especially fast.

By doing the wash lettuce then wrap in a paper towel trick, I have found that lettuce such as romaine and even baby spinach stays fresh for a whole week. Is that safe to still eat- it seems a little long. Thanks!

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  1. Celery stored in ice water in a tupperware container lasts for at least a week. I've also had good luck wrapping cut vegetables in a damp paper towel, and then in foil.

    3 Replies
    1. re: small h

      I put mine in water as well, in a tupperware.

      1. re: rockandroller1

        If three votes makes for a certainty when it comes to celery, add mine. I don't actually use ice water, but cold water, and then I keep it in a colder part of the fridge. This works well for bell peppers (cut into strips) too.

        I'm diabetic, and one of my favourite snacks is President's Choice "Just Peanuts" peanut butter slathered on celery (well drained and dried, of course.) It has a great crunchy mouth feel, lots of protein, and hardly any sugar or carbs.

        1. re: KevinB

          I know huh? We used to have celery and peanut butter in school lunches. Yum! Okay, I'm trusting you guys. I just sliced up red and yellow bell pepper, celery, and carrots and put them in water in closed tupperware in the fridge for healthy snacks. (I remembered we used to have an actual Tupperware container with a handle/strainer you pulled up to get to them. Wonder if they still make it?)

    2. I read on chowhound that you can prolong the life of lettuce by wrapping it in a paper towel. Maybe someone else knows, but I am not sure if it is supposed to be a wet or dry paper towel and if it applies to other veggies.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cook411

        I buy romaine hearts that come three to a package. Usually cleaning two heads at a time, I break off and rinse each leaf individually, drain them all together in a colander, shake off each leaf and then lay it on dry paper towel. I lay out the leaves side by side on a strip of paper towels that haven't been torn apart, one layer of leaves on one strip of towels for each head (usually about five of the brawny "pick a size" which are about six inches wide). I roll the leaves up in the dry towel, and put the package into one of those bags you put fresh produce in. I usually use up the romaine before a week passes, but from time to time have kept them a bit longer. More than eight days is pushing it.

        I handle iceberg lettuce in a similar fashion, by cutting out the stem, rinsing the head by holding the now-empty core under running water to fill the entire head with water and upending in a colander to drain. After ten to 15 minutes draining I fold a paper towel into quarters, put the head of lettuce core down onto the folded towel and store it in a produce bag, core-side down in the high humidity crisper drawer. I usually change the towel the next day as it gets pretty soggy from the additional drainage, and then the iceberg will usually keep for a week and a half to two weeks with no loss of quality. In fact my method makes it really crispy, which I prefer especially in sandwiches.

        I would not wash baby spinach (or grown-up spinach, for that matter) or any other greens ahead of time. Spinach, arugula, red-leaf lettuce, boston lettuce, etc are best washed and dried either by tea towel or salad spinner shortly before you plan to use them.

        I have another trick for cucumbers. I only buy the long english cucumbers that come wrapped in cellophane and are unwaxed. I wash them under running water, cut off what I need for the evening's salad, then lay out a piece of aluminum foil that is about 12 inches long. Roll the cucumber up in the foil, folding the outside edges of the foil over the cuke after you've rolled it two revolutions, then complete rolling to make a nice tight package. Keep the cuke in the low humidity drawer of your crisper. I found that my cukes will keep up to a week this way, staying nice a dry and ready to be cut for salads. Each time I use the cucumber I remove it from the refrigerator for the absolute minimum amount of time so that no condensation builds up and I wipe it dry before rewrapping it in the same foil if the foil is dry, or in new foil if the "old" foil has any moisture on it.

        For bell peppers I wash and dry them, remove the top and the seeds, then cut them in half. I cut off what I need for that meal, the nest the remainder of one half into the other half and wrap them tightly together in plastic wrap. Kept in the low humidity drawer of the crisper the peppers will keep for about a week. Beyond that they get a bit slimy. Then its into the compost bin.

        I don't wash celery, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, most herbs, or any fruits ahead of time. (Parsley and cilantro though get the "romaine treatment"). I guess I feel like washing and drying greens is a PITA but washing a stick of celery or a couple of radishes and drying them takes me all of five seconds.

        I read somewhere that you shouldn't prepare your veggies ahead of time because mold will begin to grow, but I have not experienced any adverse consequences to my methods and I do love having the greens and vegetables ready when I'm ready for them. I hope you try these methods and that they work as well for you as they do for me. I know I'm more likely to eat my veggies if they're cleaned and ready for me!

        1. re: cook411

          A slightly damp paper towel is best. You just want to keep in the moisture in the leaves. Too dry will make the leaves dry out. Too wet will get the leaves wet and let bacteria grow on them

        2. Blanching the cut vegetables keeps them bright and crisp for days and sometimes the entire week.
          I use my Windsor saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, throw in a small amount of the veggie and as soon as the water returns to a boil (usually a just a few seconds) scoop them out with a spider-type slotted spoon and put them into an ice water bath to chill. Dry them well, store in plastic bags in the fridge. Works with carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, bell peppers, scallions, asparagus, zucchini, pea pods, etc.
          The brief blanching arrests the changing of the enzymes in the veggies and keeps them crisp and sweet, while enhancing their color. They don't taste cooked.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            Great ideas from makingsense and janniecooks! thanks for sharing these techniques. I'm a single guy, and it frustrates me to have so much food make it into the "Green Bin". On the other hand, if I buy a bag of salad mix, that doesn't mean I want to eat that salad every day for five days in a row. So, finding ways to extend the life of fresh produce - which I really do like to eat - is important. Thanks for the tips!

            1. re: KevinB

              One thing I did in my single days was make soup out of the fresh vegetables (lettuce excluded) when they were starting to get a bit past fresh. Either a simple vegetable soup (dice and saute onion/celery/carrot/mushroom/peppers, add chicken or beef stock, then any other vegetables (beans, peas, potatoes, cauliflower, tomato, cauliflower, spinach, etc), simmer until tender - some seasonings, maybe a bit of rice), or using chicken stock, water and a scoop of hot and sour soup paste as a base with the vegetables simply simmered until just tender.

              Both made quite a nice main dish for lunch, or a side dish for dinner.

          2. I've been doing a new trick for me - wrapping celery hearts in foil makes them last much longer then if I don't. I love having celery on hand but like it crispy. this has worked great.

            1. I found that by rinsing a head of lettuce, coring it, then wrapping it in a tea towel it will keep for weeks. If I am not using it much I open it and remove the outer leaves and rewrap it.