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Your Definitive Guide to Storing Vegetables

When unpacking your CSA share, you may suddenly find yourself wondering - How should I store these vegetables? Storing your fresh vegetables correctly will help prolong the shelf-life of your beautiful produce - making sure you still have crisp lettuce and crunchy carrots when the time comes for you to cook with them. In today’s post, we hope to outline a few strategies that will help you get the most of your Vrdnt veg. We will also help you identify which crops you can expect to hold for a few weeks in the fridge, and which you should consume more quickly. In addition to storing your veggies properly, simply knowing what you should cook first will help you avoid that dreaded wasted-veggie shame spiral.

The moment the vegetable is plucked from the earth - detached from its water source or unearthed from the insulative soil - it begins to lose moisture, causing roots (like carrots) to go limp and greens (like chard) to wilt - the cell walls beginning to collapse. When approaching your CSA share and trying to figure out how to store your veggies, it’s helpful to keep this in mind. Most of these storage tips have the same goal: keep the vegetable’s moisture content in balance.

First, some terminology.

Shelf-Life: The length of time you can expect your Vrdnt veggies to last. Despite the name, most vegetables should actually be stored in a refrigerator crisper drawer - not a shelf. When you see the shelf life of your veg dwindling, it’s always good to have a plan of last resort. A big pot of soup, in my opinion, is the best savior.

Refreshing: If not too far gone, many vegetables can be revived from a limpish state. To refresh bunched greens, treat them like the beautiful bouquet they are: trim the ends, and place in a glass of water, perhaps with a plastic bag gently covering the top (goodbye beautiful bouquet metaphor).

Plastic bags: The produce bags from the grocery store, as well as the bag your Vrdnt produce comes in, are great options to use when I recommend a plastic bag. I happen to particularly enjoy using large gallon ziplocks that I can easily see through; I will wash these and use them over and over again. Many of the commercially produced plastic vegetable bags (like the ones carrots come in) are ‘vented’ - meaning there are tiny holes in the bag which allows for some moisture to escape, while retaining the majority of the humidity within the bag. If storing your produce in a large ziplock, for example, it’s good to emulate this venting “technology”... aka, just don’t zip up the bag all the way, or fold over the top and close with a clip vs. zipper seal technology. In the guide below, I’ll often refer to a “mostly-sealed bag”, and now you know what I mean.

Fabric produce bags: There are many options out there for fabric produce bags, made from natural fibers like cotton or linen. Most of these bags suggest to get the bag wet first, wring it out, and then store your produce in the bag, in the crisper drawer. The bag’s moisture will help keep the veggies perky when they begin to lose their own moisture. (Farms will often spray the floors of their coolers with water for a similar effect!).

Storage container: If you don’t want to use plastic bags and don’t have the fabric variety, you can also use a container with a tight fighting lid.

Crisper Drawer: Your refrigerator’s crisper drawer is always going to be the best spot for your produce to live. If it gets crowded in there, prioritize the space for more tender and fragile vegetables, like lettuce or greens, and move the roots to the shelf until you’re able to make some more room.

Becky’s Produce bags: The bags Becky delivers her produce in are a great resource. In a pinch, you could just throw the entire bag in the fridge and all of the vegetables would fare better stored that way than lying naked on a fridge shelf. Don’t ever leave your vegetables naked on a fridge shelf, unless it's a watermelon, and then that’s about all you can do.


Bunched Root (and root-like) Vegetables

Carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, kohlrabi, fennel, celeriac

When we say “bunched root crops” we mean vegetables that are tethered with a twist tie or rubber band, and are one part leaf, one part root.

On the day you bring home your Vrdnt veggies, it’s worth setting aside, say, 30 seconds(?), to detach the greens from the root. If left intact, these greens will continue to wick moisture out of the root, their usual source of water, leaving limp carrots, beets, or the like. Store the roots (now what we would call “bulk roots”) and greens (“bunched greens”) in separate, semi-sealed bags (details below!).

Bulk Root Crops

Carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips

If the roots still have a bit of dirt on their skin, you can soak them in a bowl/basin of water, and gently scrub the dirt away. Store the roots separately from any greens, in a mostly-sealed bag, in the crisper drawer; it’s okay if they have a tiny bit of water still clinging to them. If you’re using a plastic bag and hope to store the roots for longer than a week or so, you can consider including a damp paper towel/cloth in the bag - this will help maintain the humidity/moisture level in the bag, replenishing the root if it begins to soften. If you’re using a fancy-shmancy cloth storage bag, the bag’s (damp) fabric will serve the same purpose as the damp paper towel. Root crops properly stored can last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.