Summer Produce Storage Tips

Many members have been asking for advice on the best way to store their CSA produce, we did a post on storing salad/greens; here are some additional ideas and thoughts for the summer produce.

There may be environmental and/or health considerations that some of you may have with using certain materials to store your produce. I personally don’t like the practice of using plastic “zip” type bags because in my opinion it does have an environmental impact and has not proven to be the best option for maintaining freshness. I find that lettuce, for instance, gets brown quickly if you tear or cut it up and throw it in a re-sealable plastic bag. However, everything you see online about storing leafy greens says they should be stored in an airtight bag or container. I keep my greens wrapped in thin towels and my lettuce sometimes lasts up to two weeks!

Having said that, much of what you read below might conflict with searches you do online. In the end, produce storage has many variables in addition to the different containers and methods available today – refrigerator temp, humidity, to name a few. You might just have to experiment a little bit to find out what works the best for your household.

Here are my favorite storage containers/methods.

BPA Free Cereal Containers: I keep root vegetables in these (carrots, beet roots, kohlrabi – they keep for weeks, even months!
storage-beets
Using Sistema Cereal Canisters to Store Beets

Flour Sack (Tea) Towels: These are the old fashioned towels used back in the day for everything from drying dishes to straining jelly. I got my last bunch from Cost Plus World Market.

storage-floursack
Flour Sack Towels from Cost Plus World Market, Wow, check out that Fennel!

Avocados: You can ripen a firm avocado in a paper bag or on the counter at room temperature in a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. Partially consumer avocados are best kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container with the pit in tact. I put the scooped out “shell” on top of the uneaten portion to help reduce the browning, or you can squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice on the exposed flesh.

Beans (Blue Lake/Yellow Wax): Store for 2-3 days max in the plastic bag they arrive in. Don’t wash them until you are ready to prepare.

Beets: Remove greens (leave an inch on the root), wash and wrap in flour sack towels and store in the crisper. Beetroots will keep for a long time in an airtight container.

Bell Peppers: You can toss your peppers in the crisper – they should last up to a week or longer. I like to cut them up and store them in a sealed glass container; they keep quite well that way and are ready for consumption.

Berries: Never wash berries until you are ready to eat them. If your house is like mine, most of the time they don’t make it to the refrigerator – but berries are fragile and moisture is the enemy. I usually put a paper towel or piece of a paper bag in the bottom of the container if I’m not planning on eating them immediately.

Carrots: Remove greens, wash and wrap in flour sack towel (if using), store carrots in airtight container.

Corn: Corn in the husk should be consumed right when you get it. If you are not going to do that, take off the husks and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for the next day or vacuum seal it and freeze it for later.

Fennel: Store fennel in the refrigerator crisper, where it should keep fresh for 4-5 days. It might look OK much longer than that but as it ages, it tends to gradually lose its flavor.

Lettuce/Greens:  Wash thoroughly in cold water.  Set on dish drying pad to drain.  Wrap in flour sack towel and store in the crisper.  Should keep for 5-7 days.  Check outer leaves and remove any wilted ones every other day.
storage-greens
Turnip greens draining on dish pad, Romaine Lettuce wrapped and ready for the crisper.

Summer Squash:
Summer squash is very fragile as it has a thin skin and small punctures can lead to decay. It should be stored unwashed in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it should keep for 7-8 days.