How should fresh vegetables be stored to give them a longer shelf life?
I've been buying fresh vegetables to last an entire week every Sunday but I've noticed that some of them start to wither or discolor in the vegetable crisper after 2-3 days and need to be thrown away. I'd like to stretch their keeping time to about 7 days since I can only go to the market once a week. I'm especially interested in learning the best way to store fresh asparagus, eggplant, okra, string beans or baguio beans, and green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kangkong, alugbati, malunggay, etc. I'd also like to know the maximum shelf life of each so I can plan which ones to cook first.
I have found that the best way to keep vegetables and fruits is just to put them in a ziploc bag unwashed in the crisper. However, for leafy vegetables like lettuce, you might want to wash them and put in a wet paper towel--that keeps them crisp since they continue to absorb water through osmosis (remember that elementary school science experiment with the carnations and colored water?). As far as shelf life, I think that the leafier, the faster it goes bad. One idea is to do a quick microwave boil of the asparagus and string beans or anything of that sort to blanch it right before it is going bad (if you aren't ready to use it). That should extend the life a bit. Just like if you cook meat you then extend it's use time about 4 days.
This is different for different types of veggies. I frequentlt have issue with lettuce and other greens and unfortunately don't have much suggestion wise.
For asparagus, try storing it upright in a glass with a little bit of water on the bottom so that the bottoms of the asparagus are in the water. Haven't tried this but I saw it stored this way in my aunt's fridge, and I know she likes asparagus a lot!
The blanching mentioned below sounds like a good idea too, but I don't have much experience on the issue. I have sometimes blanched or frozen veggies when I had excess then used them later for soup, casserole etc.
My wife tried out these things a few years back called Green Bags. They were actually green bags that were made in such a way, they allowed the gases that built up around the veggies to bleed through and not build up. It actually did extend the life of our veggies. They worked very well with bananas and collards. Not sure if they still sell them anymore, but if I am not mistaken Walmart and Target carried them. Might be worth looking up.
They emit ethylene gas, which causes Everything to ripen and then spoil quickly. A ripe banana next to an unripe avocado will cause the avocado to ripen and spoil.
My advice is to separate everything into their own containers. There are also inexpensive biodegradable bags available that absorb the ethylene gas, thus extending the life of produce.
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