How to Choose and Store Vegetables

Everyone wants to make their dollar stretch farther when buying vegetables, there is nothing worse than having to throw them out because they didn’t last as long as you’d expected. The best way to stop this from happening is to ensure that what you’re buying will stay fresh as long as possible.

If being stored in plastic bags, I’d suggest wiping the bags of moisture every few days. I have found that “Debbie Meyer Green Bags” do a very good job of keeping most vegetables fresh for a longer period of time.

Following are some tips on how to choose and store vegetables:

Avocados:  If you’re planning on using them right away, make sure they are soft but not overly soft. If they are too hard, place them in a wool sock and store in a dark place to ripen.  Just don’t forget about them. When ripe, store in the fridge, once you cut into them place them in a small bag.  If you want to use just a small amount in a salad or sandwich, just cut off one end and spoon out the amount needed.  If using the whole avocado just cut it all the way around the middle then twist to force the pit loose.  Spoon out the flesh.

 Carrots: They should have a solid orange color and a smooth skin with no green areas or hairy rootlets.  Green areas on a carrot should be cut out and discarded.

Celery:  Stalks should be a vivid green, avoid ones that are washed out looking as they won’t have as much flavor.  They should be solid with no wilting or softness in any of the stalks. Leaves should not be wilted.  They can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days.  Leave them in the plastic bag but wipe bag often.

Cucumbers: These should be firm and green, never yellow.  Make sure the ends are firm as well.  Remove from bag and store in fridge’s vegetable crisper. When slicing cucumbers, cut a thin piece off and throw it away; then scrape the piece that’s now exposed.  This will get rid of any bitterness.  A delicious  recipe using cucumbers is Garlic Cucumber Salad.  Just shred 4 or 5 cucumbers into a bowl.  Add light sour cream. Mix together well. Add a few cloves of garlic to taste.  Peel the garlic and mash together with a little salt (the salt helps to really pulverize the garlic). Add the garlic to the cucumber by dabbing small amounts around the top of the mixture, then mixing well.  I always take this to special occasions and am repeatedly asked for the recipe.

Peppers (Bell or Sweet): Be sure the skin is firm and the colors should be vibrant and not dull.  Orange, yellow, and especially red peppers contain more nutrients than green. For a colorful addition to any salad or side dish, mix the different colors together. Can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week; I usually just remove them from the bag and put them in the vegetable cooler, once I cut into them, then I put them into a bag. They can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Potatoes:  Best to buy them separately rather than in a bag since you might not notice any bruises or blemishes. Check also for signs of rot and stickiness.  Place them in a bin with holes, used for storing potatoes and onions. Add a piece of ginger root to help them stay fresh longer.  Whether you buy old or new potatoes, red or white, or Yukon Gold depends on your preference and also what you will be using them for.  Since new potatoes contain more moisture than old potatoes, they are perfect to use for making potato salad. Not only will they absorb less water when boiled and require less mayonnaise to moisten, but they are also stronger and won’t break apart as easily when stirring the salad.  Older potatoes are best for baking and french fries.  They are drier, meatier, and contain more starch which makes them bake up lighter and fluffier.

Tomatoes:  They should be well formed and free of blemishes, bruises and cuts.  Choose vine-ripened since they have the best flavour.  Place in refrigerator only if they will not be used in 2 days time.  Store them stem side down but never in direct sunlight.  To quickly ripen, place in a paper bag that has holes punched in it to allow them to breath.

If you learn how to choose and store vegetables you will be amazed at what a difference it will make to your budget.