Fresh New Year

How to Store Fresh Food


Brussels sprouts are part of the same family as cabbages. Store in a produce bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator and eat them earlier rather than later, especially if you don’t like intense flavors. Brussels sprouts will last up to two weeks in the fridge, but their flavor will intensify the longer you wait to cook them. Great in seafood boils.

Store unwashed heads of broccoli and cabbage wrapped loosely in damp paper towels (with plenty of airflow) in the refrigerator. Use within three to five days.

Keep green onions with roots intact. Store in a jar of water on the windowsill. They will last for months, and they will continue to grow.

Carrots can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator. To prevent condensation from forming, wrap the carrots in a paper towel and store them in a plastic, mesh, or open cloth bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin. Excess moisture will cause them to rot.

Store fresh herbs in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel, or stems-down in a water-filled glass, vase, or jelly jar in the fridge with the tops covered by a bag. Your herbs will last a week or two this way, with cilantro and other tender-leaved herbs having the shortest lifespan and rosemary and thyme lasting among the longest. The only exception is basil. Basil does best at room temperature, out of sunlight. Use as quickly as possible to avoid its turning brown.

Leave berries unwashed until you are ready to use them. You can keep them in the container in which you bought them, in the fridge for a couple of days. But to make them last longer, place unwashed, uncut strawberries in a clean glass jar, screw on the lid and refrigerate. Your berries should stay fresh for at least a week. This works for all other berries, as well.

Fresh whole beets can stay fresh in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Before refrigerating, separate beets from the leaves. Store the whole beets, unwashed, in separate plastic bags in the vegetable drawer. Store the greens separately. The leaves will last for up to three days.

Store bell peppers, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper. Keep them dry — moisture can cause them to rot. Red, orange and yellow peppers will last four to five days; green bell peppers will last about a week.

Wrap whole, uncut celery bunches tightly in aluminum foil, and store them in the refrigerator crisper drawer. They can maintain their freshness anywhere from two to four weeks.

The best place to store eggplant is not in the refrigerator. Instead, keep eggplant at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Use within three days of purchase.

Cucumbers need to be thoroughly dried before storing — excess water on the surface encourages spoiling. Wash, dry and wrap them in a clean dishtowel or paper towel, and tuck them inside an open plastic bag; this helps protect them from ethylene gas produced by fruits such as cantaloupes that you might have in your fridge. Store in the refrigerator on a high shelf — not the crisper — for up to two weeks. Zucchini and yellow squash should be stored this way, too.

Whole winter squash — acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash — will keep for a month or more if stored in a cool, dark, ventilated area. Cut, wrapped squash should be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. It will last that way for up to a week.

Stow unwashed kale, spinach and other greens in the refrigerator, wrapped with a damp paper towel with plenty of airflow for up to two weeks. Keep kale away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables (bananas, apples, melons, peaches and tomatoes) to avoid spoiling. Soak in cold water to get rid of any sand or dirt before cooking or eating.

Store packaged mushrooms in the fridge, unwashed, for up to a week. Mushroom packaging is designed to “breathe” and release the ethylene gas emitted from the mushrooms. Store loose mushrooms in a partially open Ziploc bag. Rinse mushrooms before using, or brush them with a dry cloth.

Don’t store sweet potatoes in the fridge or their centers will harden; instead, keep them in a cool, dry, dark place. They’ll last that way for up to two weeks. Potatoes should also be stored in this way. Keep the onions away, though. They emit ethylene gas that will age and rot potatoes.

Moisture and light lead to mold and sprouting of most onions, and shallots, so store them away from sunlight in a dry, well-ventilated spot. Properly stored whole, unpeeled onions will last this way up to three months. There is an exception, though. Vidalias and other sweet onions contain more moisture than red, yellow and white onions, and will start to rot after a few days if left out of the refrigerator. Once any onion has been cut, you should store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and use it within ten days.

Stash fresh asparagus in the refrigerator. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the spears, place them upright in a glass or jar with about an inch of water, loosely cover with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Store tomatoes stem side down at room temperature until fully ripe, then store them in the refrigerator up to five days until ready to use. Bring tomatoes back to room temperature before eating so they can recover their flavor.

Apples continue to ripen even after they are picked, and they release ethylene gas, which continues to soften the skin and flesh day after day. Keeping apples cold helps to slow the emission of this gas. Place them loose in the fruit crisper drawer of your refrigerator, and if your refrigerator seems dry, add a damp paper towel to keep them fresh longer. Apples stored this way can last two months or longer. Did you know? The crunch of an apple is caused by the water molecules “exploding” when you cut or bite into them.