If you share our passion for fresh and seasonal produce, chances are that you too spend your weekends shopping at greengrocers and farmer’s markets. Once you’ve found those perfect apples, fresh tomatoes, and crisp greens, the last thing you want is for them to go to waste, right? Same goes for those of you that invest the time and resources required to grow your own vibrant produce at home. To ensure that your tender love and care is not in vain, we’ve compiled our tried and tested tips for handling, preserving, and storing your food – sustainably, of course.
- Store fruit and veggies whole. This will allow them to keep longer, as their surface degrades faster when it has been cut and exposed to air – makes sense, right?
- Handle your fruit and veggies gently, as bruises and cuts will lead to rotting which can also spread to other veggies stored nearby.
Clever Preserving Tips
Can: Canning involves placing veggies (and fruits) in a sterilised airtight container, such as a glass jar, to prevent bacteria and to maintain for years (think, canned tomatoes). There are a few different ways to can produce. Two methods include Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning.
Salt: Salting is one of the oldest preservation methods in the book. A low salt to veggie ratio will slightly pickle your produce, promoting the growth of lactic acid bacteria and reducing harmful forms of bacteria. You may choose to add more for a saltier flavour, and then store in the fridge.
Dry/Dehydrate: Drying dehydrates the fruit and veg, consequently removing the bacteria, yeasts and mould that live in the moisture. This gives the produce a crunchier texture, concentrates the taste, and allows it to be conveniently stored in the pantry. You can slowly dehydrate your food by placing it in an oven set on a low temperature and with the door slightly open to allow air circulation. If you have a dehydrator, then lucky you!
Freeze: Freezing is the most convenient preservation method! You can literally snap lock the flavour and nutrients of ripened produce, and thaw to freshness when you are ready to eat or cook it. This is a great way to preserve fruit and veggies for use in smoothies, soups, stir-fries and curries. Hint: you can blanch veggies in boiling water for a minute or so before freezing to limit the activity of enzymes that may spoil the goodness.
10 Rapidfire Veggie Storage Tips
#1 Leafy Greens
Lettuce, spinach, rocket, kale and chard can be stored in a sealed container or reusable produce bag in the fridge after being washed and spun to promote hydration.
#2 Tomatoes, Chilli & Capsicums
Fresh tomatoes, chillies and capsicums should be stored on the bench at room temperature until ripe. To preserve for longer, just pop them in the fridge.
#3 Garlic, Onions & Potatoes
Store in a cool dark place and they will keep well for up to a few months. Hint: don’t store potatoes with onions and garlic, as they release gases that may quicken decay.
#4 Pumpkins or Squash
Whole pumpkins can be stored for months in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Sliced pumpkin should be stored in the fridge with the seeds removed, as these decay faster than the flesh.
#5 Cucumbers, Zucchini, Eggplant & Fennel
These immature fruits have thin skin that is sensitive to bruising and cuts, so handle carefully. Store them dry in the fridge in an unsealed reusable bag to allow for airflow.
#6 Carrots, Celeriac & Parsnip
Storing them in a reusable bag in the fridge with their tops removed will allow them to last for over a week (or longer).
#7 Beetroot, Turnips & Radish
Remove the leaves as soon as you get home to preserve the moisture within the roots (keep the leaves for compost or to feed your chickens or worm farm). Store the roots in a reusable produce bag in the fridge.
#8 Cabbages, Broccoli & Cauliflower
As broccoli and cauliflower are the unopened flower buds of a plant, they are best consumed within 3 to 4 days, before they begin to open and turn yellow. Store them in a crisper in the fridge in a reusable bag. Cabbages, however, will last for weeks.
#9 Celery & Soft Herbs
Celery and soft herbs such as parsley, chives and basil can be stored in a jar of water on the kitchen bench at moderate room temperature. Otherwise, in hotter months they can be washed and wrapped in a damp tea towel in the fridge.
#10 Dry Herbs
Dry herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano can be stored on the kitchen bench. The flavour becomes more potent as the herb dries, allowing them to keep for a long time. Once fully dry, seal in a container to sprinkle over your food later.