Making your produce last longer!

How many times have you bought produce and thrown it out without a short time later? I have, especially lettuce and other leafy greens. Through friends, web searches, and trail and error I have found ways to save my produce (and money) by making them stay fresh longer! Here are my tricks to make it last.

Step 1) Buy health looking produce: What I mean by this is don’t buy produce that already looks less then stellar, unless of course you are going to eat it that night. If you have time and energy I suggest going to your local farmers market. They have almost the freshest food available to you there. I say almost because it may have been picked the day before and you can’t get any fresher then picking it yourself. Also, don’t buy more then you can realistically eat in a couple weeks. These aren’t forever techniques and the produce will eventually spoil.

Step 2) Getting it home: This may seem a no brainier but out of due process I am going to state it. After purchasing your produce go home with it! Don’t purchase it then run around with it for another hour or two with it in your car. The heat from your car with effect it and not in a good way. When I buy produce I make it the last thing I do for that day’s errands so that it doesn’t sit in my car.

Step 3) Wash it: So if you get it fresh from the farmers market, CSA, or the field it seems pretty reasonable right, but what about from the store? Yes, you still want to wash it. Even though its been shipped to your local store its been pulled from the ground and given a quick dip in water and maybe even a thing coating of wax to help it travel better. However, its still from the ground and those leaves still can trap dirt. I wash my produce including fruits in cold tap water and little cider vinegar. The vinegar, probable, helps kill any microbes that are already feasting on your yummies and the water rinses dirt off. I let them soak for 10 minutes pushing the lettuce down to make sure it gets fully washed. On the topic of lettuce I do pull all my lettuce apart leaf by leaf when I get home. This helps in the washing, rinsing, drying, and storage of it but also gives my a chance to throw out any leaves that aren’t good enough or need to be eaten that night. I then rinse the produce in cold water for 10 minutes and lay it out to dry on a towel.

Step 4) Storing: So this was the hardest part for me. How in the world do you store it to keep it fresh? After trying a couple things (just putting it in the produce drawer, cutting it up and placing it in water, lining the drawer with towels) I finally came up with a system that works great for me! For lettuce you take the leaves (if you have lots of lettuce divided up a little) and you wrap it in paper towels and then place it Ziploc bags and press the air out. The paper towels help keep the leaves dry and the air doesn’t allow to bacterial respiration (life). With cucumbers I also wrap them in paper towels but I place them in a grocery bag and just tie it shut. Again, the paper towels keep it dry but they take longer to go back in general given their thick skin. With squash I wash and bag them in a grocery bag. They are hardy also but moisture doesn’t affect them as much. Also, don’t let any of it freeze!! The thawing process breaks down the membranes and you end up with mush.

Step 5) Enjoy! Just remember to rewrap your lettuce and push the air out and with squash and cucumber once their cut, use it up pretty fast.

Hope this helps you keep your food fresher and your pocket more full!!

If you are interested in u-picks go to: http://www.pickyourown.org/ This site has really good listing of u-picks and farm stands. It also has information about canning and freezing produce.

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About Tara B.
Hi, I am Tara B. and its great to meet you!! I am an outgoing person with introvert tendencies. I have two amazing dogs that I love and adore! You will hear about them and their adventures a lot :D I also have the most amazing husband! Together he and I have Miss Go Go (you'll also see her referred to as Baby B) that was born in the spring of 2015. She is smart, quick learner, and loves to mimic everything she sees. I love to cook, bake, try to stay healthy, and read. I love to explore my area (and the world when life allows), and seek out fun things to do. You want more information just ask! I am horrible at writing "About You" sections...:) If you have any questions, comments, ect I can be reached at CraftsByTaraB@gmail.com.

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