The Palatable Pantry: Keeping Your Produce Fresh

The Palatable Pantry: Keeping Produce Fresh
By Sydney Karp Poll, a local holistic health coach, chef and friend of Care for Real

Since produce bins and tables might be a bit bare, there are several substitutions you can make. If you can’t find your regular kale or spinach, go for something different yet similar. Look for a swiss chard, or dandelion greens; these are great for wilting in a pan.

If you normally eat broccoli and there isn’t any available, swap it out for cauliflower or a broccoli rabe. Cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, broccoli and cabbage, have loads of minerals like vitamin K and folate, significant amounts of fiber and can reduce inflammation.

Cabbage of any color is a hearty vegetable that will last at least a week. It is filled with Vitamin C and can improve digestion. For a novel preparation, try slicing it thin for a slaw or roasting it in the oven. Fennel is another exceptional vegetable that can aid digestion. It is tasty roasted or added to a soup. Try saving the fronds to use in a salad.  In fact, you can roast just about any vegetable. Roasting carrots, for example, bring out their natural sweetness, and you don’t need to add anything more than salt or pepper.

There are several easy ways to extend the shelf life of your produce:

  • For herbs like cilantro and parsley, trim the bottom and place in a cup of water in the refrigerator. Asparagus keeps better this way too.
  • The crisper drawer in your refrigerator is actually your best friend! Don’t pack the drawers too tightly, keep them at most 2/3 full.
  • Veggies like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and celery can be kept in a net bag or a vegetable bag that you get at the grocery store.
  • Mushrooms are best stored in a paper bag.
  • If you want your avocados to ripen FASTER, you can put them in a paper bag with a banana or even an apple. If you want them to stop ripening, place them in the refrigerator.
  • Store vegetables and fruit in separate parts of the fridge or separate crisper bins. This will keep the fruit from ripening too quickly.
  • Tomatoes taste best at room temperature, and they ripen better that way. But if they start to become too soft, store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before eating.