How Do I Store Produce Without Plastic
Not long ago, I asked myself that same question. I had recently invested in a large set of organic cotton reusable produce bags, and while I was feeling mighty proud of myself michael kors handbags each time I ventur michael kors handbags ed out to the market (look how eco friendly I am! Who needs those wasteful plastic produce bags?), the scene in my fridge a few days later was less than pretty.
Stored in plastic, fruits and vegetables would have normally michael kors handbags stayed fresh for at least a week. But left in my new reusable bags, all my beautiful produce fast turned into a wilted, spoiled mess. (Even the “crisper” bin seemed to do just the opposite, no matter what the setting.)
I’ve written before about the enormous environmental implications of wasted food; needless to say, my cloth produce bags were not coming close to offsetting the yearly 34 million tons of food waste to which I was now contributing.
But obviously, there were reasons to avoid the plastic bags, too (wildlife destroying pollution, needless oil consumption, endocrine disrupting chemicals). They also didn’t seem necessary: After all, plastic produce bags only came into being in the 1960s; plastic grocery bags, a decade later. There had to be a way to keep my fruits and veggies fresh without them.
Enter Beth Terry.
Terry’s storage methods come largely from Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley, CA, which created this guide on how to store more than 60 kinds of fruits and vegetables. But being the plastic free pro that she is, Terry of course had some suggestions to add. With her help, I’ve created a condensed version for you that includes her input, below.
Note: While the Ecology Center guide occasionally calls for paper products, Terry tries to limit these; she opts for cloth bags or plastic free reusable containers instead. (“While plastic is truly problematic, all single use disposable bags and wrappers have an environmental footprint,” she says.) She suggests a variety of different bags and containers on her site.
Avocados. Place in a paper bag at room temp. (To speed up ripening, place an apple in the bag.) Terry places hers directly in the fridge; for a cut avocado half, she keeps the pit in and places it in a glass wire bale jar.
Basil. Store in an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside, left out on a cool counter.
Broccoli. Store in the fridge: Place in an open container or wrap in a damp towel.
Carrots/Celery/Radishes. Cut off tops to keep fresh longer and place in a closed container with plenty of moisture. Terry stores these immersed in containers of water in the fridge (change water frequently).
Corn. Leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best the day it’s picked.
Cucumber. Wrap in a moist towel in the fridge. (Terry likes plain cotton tea towels.) Fine in a cool room if you’re planning on eating them within a day or two.
Garlic/Onion/Potatoes. Store michael kors handbags in a cool, dark, place. (For onions, good air circulation is best; don’t stack.)
Greens (Collards, Chard, Kale). Store upright in a glass of water (like a bouquet) on the counter or fridge. Eat these vegetables first, since they lose color quickly.
Lettuce. Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge. Terry admits that salad greens are difficult to keep fresh; her strategy is to eat these early in the week, though some of her readers have had success vacuum packing in glass.
Spinach. Store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible.
Sweet Peppers. Only wash right before eating; wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple of days, in the crisper if longer storage is needed.
Sweet Potatoes. Store in a cool, dark, wellventilated place. Never refrigerate.
Tomatoes. Also never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter.
Zucchini. Fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.
Easy peasy, right? (Refrigerate snap peas in an open container, by the way.) Do you have other plastic free methods that work for you? If so, please share them in the comments, below!