We grow many different types of vegetables and they often require different storage conditions to maintain their freshness and quality. Generally, it is best to store vegetables whole as their surface degrades more quickly if it has been cut and exposed to air. It also helps to handle vegetables gently as bruises or cuts to the surface of the vegetable will lead to rotting in this area, which can also spread to other nearby vegetables.
Follow these tips to get the most out of your produce:
Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, tatsoi, rocket, kale and chard should be washed, dried or spun, and then stored in a sealed container or plastic bag in the fridge. This prevents the dry environment inside the refrigerator from dehydrating the leaves.
Tomatoes, Chilli & Capsicums
For maximum flavour, fresh tomatoes, chillis and capsicums should be stored outside the fridge on a kitchen bench or table until they are completely ripe. At this point, if you are not planning to eat them straight away, they can be stored in the fridge for a few days to prevent them from ripening further and spoiling. Chillis can also be frozen in an airtight container if you are not going to eat them in the next week or two. Consider removing the stalks and membranes and chopping them before freezing in small portions for ease of use when you need them later.
Garlic, Onions & Potatoes
These stay fresh for a long time outside the fridge in a cool dark place, sometimes for many months. Do not store the potatoes with the onions and garlic as they release gases that lead to spoilage in one another.
Whole pumpkins can be stored for months in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Cut pumpkin should be stored in the fridge with the seeds removed, as these decay faster than the flesh. You can simply store it uncovered in the crisper and cut off the dried outer layer before cooking, or wrap it in plastic.
Cucumbers should be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge. To keep for longer than 3 or 4 days, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
Carrots, Celeriac & Parsnip
Stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, with their tops removed, they will last over a week.
Beetroot, Turnips & Radish
As with carrots and parsnips, it is best to remove the leaves of these vegetables as soon as you get them home. You can either store these separately in a plastic bag or feed them to your chickens or worm farm. The reason for removing the leaves is that if they remain on the root, moisture from the root continues to transpire from the leaves even after the vegetable is picked. This leads to a dehydrated and shrivelled root with little flavour or crunch. Store the roots in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Kohlrabi is a relative of cabbages and broccoli, having a similar sweet taste when it is grown during the cooler months. It is eaten widely in many European countries. When small and tender it is eaten raw in salads or simply cut into vege sticks. It is also delicious in rich winter soups and stews. Remove the leaves and store the kohlrabi bulb in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag for up to a week or two.
Celery & Soft Herbs
Celery and soft herbs such as parsley, chives and basil store well standing in a glass or jug of water on the kitchen bench as long as the room is not too hot. Otherwise, wash them and store them wrapped in a damp paper towel or tea towel in the fridge. Basil must be thoroughly dried before storing or it will turn black. Bruising the leaves also causes them to turn black. Coriander wilts extremely fast, particularly in hot weather. If this occurs, soak it in a sink of water for 30 minutes to rehydrate it before drying and storing wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge.
Dry herbs such as thyme, oregano and rosemary can be stored on the kitchen bench with good airflow. The flavour will increase as the herb dries out and the natural oils concentrate. When completely dry, you can store these herbs in a sealed container in the kitchen cupboard for use at a later date.
Leeks & Spring Onions
Store these in the crisper in the fridge. When you are ready to prepare the leeks, discard the green part of the stem or use it to make stock. You can eat the green and the white parts of the spring onions. They are particularly delicious cut up fine and put on cheese and salad sandwiches.
These immature fruits with their thin skin are sensitive to bruising and cuts, so handle carefully. Store them dry in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag to allow for airflow, and consume them within 3 or 4 days.
Eggplant should be stored in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag.
Broccoli & Cauliflower
These are the unopened flower buds of a plant. This means they are best eaten in 3 or 4 days before they begin to open and turn yellow. Store them in the crisper of the fridge in a plastic bag.
Cabbages will last in the crisper of the fridge in a plastic bag for a few weeks.
Store in a plastic bag in the fridge. Roast, grill or cut into dip sticks.
Peas & Beans
Peas and beans are best eaten fresh, within 3-4 days of harvest. When very fresh they are delicious raw and I can tell you that they don’t all make it into the cool room during harvest time. Store them in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge.
Occasionally you may receive microgreens as part of your share. These are mini plants still growing in a small pot. They are used to garnish meals and salads and are packed full of nutrients. Simply sit the pot on your kitchen bench and snip off the leaves with a sharp pair of scissors when you are ready to eat them. The plants will continue growing if you do not cut them and should be watered regularly. After about a week once they get tall and leggy they are past their best and can be fed to chickens or composted. Try to eat them all before they reach this stage.