Where are You Putting Your Produce?
How much do you think you spend on fresh fruit and vegetables each week?
And do you know how to store your produce properly?
Storage is important; otherwise, you may be just wasting your money.
How many times have you had to clean unidentified brown slime out of the crisper drawer?
Well, we’re going to work on that today, with some tips on storing your produce properly. I’ve even made a cute little printable that you can get in the Library. If you’re a subscriber, you already have the password.
And if you’re not, what are you waiting for?
Classifying your Fruits and Vegetables
This isn’t an official thing as far as I know, but I tend to classify produce in terms of how long I can expect it to last. (And in terms of how long it will last, we’ll talk about how to choose it before you buy it later on.)
So, in general, I think of produce as one of three categories:
- Highly perishable, like berries
- Use it soon, like lettuce and tomatoes
- Good for a while, like potatoes and onions
This classification can help you decide how often to buy certain things as well as how long you can expect them to last once you buy them.
How to Choose Produce
I could probably do a lengthy article just on choosing fruits and vegetables alone. This will just be a general guide, for the most part.
First, where you buy your produce makes a difference.
You can tell which grocery stores have the best produce (and probably the best meat, too).
You may pay a higher price, but you are usually getting better quality.
That might be worth it for something more perishable, but for things like potatoes, it’s not necessary.
I find most grocery stores have acceptable produce. If you have one of those “discount” fruit stands near you that sells everything for really low prices, you probably know that you need to use it very quickly in order for it to still be good.
Second, the condition of your produce makes a difference, especially the softer, more fragile items. Look for bruises, cuts, soft or brown spots, and mold.
For watermelons, look for ones that are evenly shaped all around. It doesn’t matter if they’re round or sort of long. Darker green ones are better, and if you see tan markings almost like webbing like on a cantaloupe, that’s a good sign. That means that the bees have been visiting, which means a sweet melon.
Storing Your Produce
Going back to our classification system, generally the more perishable the item, the cooler the storage.
So berries, lettuce, cucumbers, grapes, and most herbs belong in the refrigerator. You can put the herbs in a jar of water if you want, but most are fine just in the bag.
I wash my berries and grapes in cold water with a splash or two of white vinegar in it. The vinegar kills any bacteria on them and keeps them fresh longer.
Then I drain them, and store them in storage bags in the refrigerator. I leave the bag open a bit for air circulation.
A lot of fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes, bananas, lemons, and limes will do just fine on the counter. I have a big bowl on mine with whatever we happen to have around.
By the way, avocados are fine on the counter until they ripen; then you can store them in the fridge.
Potatoes, onions, and garlic should be stored at room temperature, preferably in a darker area, like your pantry. (Although no one ever shuts my pantry door except me, so I have no idea how my potatoes and onions are surviving.)
Onions and potatoes don’t like to be stored together, so put them on opposite sides or different shelves of the pantry.
And if you want to keep your potatoes from sprouting, put an apple in the bag with them. Just check on the apple once in a while; it will go bad before the potatoes.
What to do with All that Produce
I love to cook, but I hate to measure things.
I’ve always wanted to write a food blog, but people would expect things like how many cups or teaspoons of that, and I couldn’t tell them.
So you get the benefit instead. Sort of. There are still no measurements, and the times may be fluid.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Bake the bacon on a sheet pan at 400 for about 18 minutes.
Let it cool and crumble it.
On a clean sheet pan, add the Brussels sprouts. Drizzle some olive oil on them. Roast them at 400 for 30 – 45 minutes. (That’s what the recipe said that I looked up; I don’t remember it taking that long. Use your judgement. I told you this wasn’t a food blog.)
About 5 minutes before you remove them from the oven, drizzle them with good Balsamic vinegar.
Once they come out of the oven, sprinkle the bacon over them. You can also shave some Parmesan on them too. Please, no powdered stuff from the can.
Potatoes Au Gratin
White potatoes and sweet potatoes (if you want) sliced thinly. The white ones don’t need to be peeled, but the sweet potatoes probably should be.
Cream – no substitution
Gruyere cheese – you can use something else, like Cheddar, if you want. The cheese should be grated.
Thyme – fresh or dried
Note: this is how I’ve always made potatoes au gratin. I got my daughter Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook for Christmas and she had basically the same recipe. The sweet potatoes, Gruyere, and thyme are her ideas.
Spray a 9 x 11 pan with non stick spray. Pre-heat the oven to 375.
Add the potatoes; white on one side, sweet on the other lengthwise.
Add the cheese, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
Toss slightly; just enough to distribute the cheese and seasonings without mixing the potatoes together.
Dot with butter.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until potatoes are done and top is browned.
Some Extra Help
How would you like some free printables and sheets to help you plan meals, make your grocery list, and more?
They’re all in the Resource Library. Just fill out the form below to get free access!