Keeping vegetables fresh

As some readers may know, I get weekly deliveries of organic vegetables, so storing them properly to make them last is important.

Many of our mothers would have wrapped leafy greens in sheets of newspaper before storing them in the fridge and kept root vegetables outside in a cool dark place.

Both are good practices, but there is more than that to vegetable storage.

The pointers below come from an organic vegetable supplier, Organic Himalaya, who imports vegetables from Nepal.

They are at the Farmer's Market at Loewen Road in Dempsey on Saturday mornings.

Luckily for us, we have refrigeration to help keep our vegetables fresh, but still, the prime rule seems to be not to bag them in plastic while in the fridge.

Vegetables continue to breathe after they are picked and may rot when wrapped in plastic.

You can, however, trim off rotten bits to prevent bacteria from spreading and salvage the healthy green parts of the plant.

Still, if you wrap carrots or beetroot in a damp towel, then place them in plastic bags before storing them in the fridge, you will protect them from the dehydration of a refrigerated environment.

For crisp salads, rinse the leaves in iced water to refresh them. Do it two or three more times.

Dry and place the washed leaves in an open container, then cover with a damp cloth.

Keep the cloth moistened and you will marvel at how much longer the leaves remain fresh in the fridge.

Do not lump everything together in the vegetable chilled case. There are plants and fruit that emit ethylene, a natural odourless gas that promotes ripening.

For example, apples and spring onions will hasten the ripening of spinach or kale when they are placed near one another.

That being said, not all vegetables need to be placed in the refrigerator.

Avocados, tomatoes and onions, for example, are best left on the counter, away from bright sunlight.

Store them in the refrigerator only when they ripen.

Even so, check your refrigerated veggies every two or three days.

Pluck off yellowing leaves, rinse any wrapping cloth and your vegetables will last for days, if not weeks.

This article was first published on June 5, 2014.
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