Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to Store Fresh Produce

Since moving to our new place, I have developed a weekend ritual of going to the farmers market. Surrounded by a veritable rainbow of fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and even homemade soaps, it's the perfect place for some kitchen inspiration. Because all the produce we buy at the market is local, organic, and ripe, it is best enjoyed as soon as possible for maximum flavor and ideal texture. Of course, you'll want your produce to stay fresh and delicious for as long as possible so nothing goes to waste. I have learned the hard way that improper produce storage can mean serious cash down the drain (or in the compost, as the case may be) and compromise your carefully planned meals. Just the other day I was so excited to make a homemade basil pasta dish and... lo and behold... I pulled the basil out of the fridge only to discover it has become a grey, shriveled shadow of it's once lush and leafy self.

So today I thought I'd share some of what I have learned about the storage of some specific food items. In fact, this is exactly what I picked up at the market this past weekend, and when I got home I did some research before properly putting away each one.

Wrap the bundle of chives in a damp paper town and place them in a plastic bag. Store in the fridge. Wash just before use.

Sugar Snap Peas
Keep these peas in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge. Wash just before use.

Corn on the Cob
Apparently, as soon as corn is picked the sugars in the corn kernels start changing into starch. This means you will want to eat the corn as soon as possible for the sweetest flavor. If you can't eat it right away, however, leave the husks on and toss them in the fridge for up to a couple of days.

If your peaches are ripe, they can be left on their own (no bag needed) at room temperature for 3-4 days. Try to keep them spread out so each peach has some breathing room - they're less likely to get bruised or develop soft spots too quickly that way. Wash just before eating. You can also keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge if they're ripe and you prefer your peaches on the chilly side.

Rinse the cherries in a colander, leaving the stems on, then carefully pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Loosely pack the cherries in a bowl, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge.

Without washing the mushrooms, place them in a paper bag. You'll want to store these in a part of your fridge that is dry. I set one of our produce drawers to it's driest setting and tossed them in there. These should stay fresh for 5 days or so.

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