Storing vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator is the most practical way to maintain the freshness of the vegetables for a longer time. Keeping them in the fridge can lengthen their durability and prevent them from rotting easily. However, it is not necessary that every household would have a refrigerator in their home. Even if there is, sometimes there can be load shedding or sometimes the fridge can be loaded with other stuffs such that it can’t have any more space for storing vegetables. In such cases, there are ways that we can maintain the freshness of the vegetables.
Features of storing greens
Greens have one big drawback. The aromatic bunches of mint, parsley, and dill deteriorate quickly unless suitable conditions are created for them. The following factors affect the leaf freshness most negatively:
- Oxygen: Often keeping the vegetables especially if they are cut or chopped in the open air can cause the easy rotting. For cut stems, it does not bear any benefit, on the contrary – storage in the open air leads to accelerated twisting and darkening of the leaves.
- Direct sunlight: If you bought greens, already on the road from the market try to minimize the exposure of the sun to fresh leaves. Natural light acts destructively on the green shoots of delicate plants (cilantro, parsley, spinach) and leads to their accelerated yellowing.
- High or low humidity: In a too humid environment, greens quickly decay, and in dry water, it quickly evaporates from plants, which leads to wilting.
Given the influence of these factors, you can keep the greens fresh and fragrant for a long time.
Ways to store vegetables to maintain their freshness
A refrigerator is considered the best place to store greens, but most herbs can also be stored at room temperature without freezing or cooling. But under such conditions, the shelf life will be no more than 3-4 days. First, you should free the bundles from store packaging. If the greenery is torn from its own garden, it needs to be sorted out, cleaned of roots and lower leaves, shake off the rest of the earth.
Remember that you must not wash herbs that you plan to store. Be sure to sort the greens by type and wrap each bunch in a piece of natural fabric or parchment. Put the finished packages in the kitchen cabinet. An exception to the rule is the storage of mint and basil. These herbs stand perfectly in a deep glass jar 2-3 cm filled with water. Store such a bouquet on the kitchen table, avoiding direct sunlight. Do not forget to change the water daily and cut the lower stems.
1. Discard the Rotten Parts
Fruits and vegetables that are still fresh if kept with just one rotten fruit will quickly rot. Always pay attention to whether there are rotten parts of vegetables and fruit. Discard the rotten part so it is not transmitted to other fruits and vegetables that are still fresh.
2. Choose Good Vegetables
The second step that can be done is to choose vegetables and fruits that are of good quality. When buying vegetables, choose vegetables that are really fresh. Research the vegetables first, paying attention to whether there are parts that are perforated or soft. If it was perforated and soft, there would already be caterpillars that lived and made them more easily rot.
For tomatoes and other vegetables that cook quickly, choose ones that are still undercooked, not too red in color, and still curdled. Use or cook tomatoes that are already red first so they don’t get too soft. For leafy vegetables, choose those that still have roots while still having strong glue. The trick is to:
- Separate between vegetables and fruit.
- Choose a good quality
- Remove the wilted and yellowed leaves.
- Throw out the rotten part because it can spread to other fruits and vegetables that are still fresh.
3. Cover with Paper or Tissue
Humid conditions can accelerate the process of fruit and vegetable spoilage. To maintain the condition of vegetables and fruit, we have to prevent them from getting damp so wrap them with paper or tissue paper. Make sure the tissue condition remains dry. If tissue is exposed to water immediately replace it with a new dry tissue.
4. Store in a Dry Place
We can prepare a special basket with good air circulation to store fruits and vegetables. Separate each type of fruit and vegetable. In addition, try to keep the basket from being too full so it is not too damp.
5. New Fruits and Vegetables Washed only at the time of Consuming
It may seem strange to some, but it is much better not to wash fruits and vegetables before storing them. If any of the items are particularly dirty, wipe them clean with a dry cloth or paper towel. This is because water washes away the natural protective layer from the fruits, which makes it easy to mold and rot. Especially for various vegetables, everything should not be washed immediately. Wash them only at the time when you are going to consume them.
Because if the condition of the fruit and vegetables are still wet and not put in the refrigerator, it will rot faster later. If you want to wash the vegetables because they are too much dirty, then wash them properly under running water and then dry them properly and completely. This must be done so that it remains durable even if not stored in the refrigerator. Use a cloth or dryer to dry it. Make sure the fruit and vegetable conditions are completely dry.
6. Store in a Plastic Bag
To maintain the water content so that vegetables do not wilt easily, we can store them in plastic bags which are slightly perforated. Or for fruit, we can store it in an airtight plastic bag so that its freshness is maintained.
7. Store Vegetables Without the Refrigerator Using Baking Paper
Besides plastic, vegetables and fruit can also be stored using the baking paper as an alternative wrapper. Baking paper can make the condition of vegetables and fruit stay fresh even if not stored in the refrigerator. If you use this method, you can remove the tissue used to wrap it and replace it with baking paper.
8. Store Vegetables and Fruits in Separate Places
Try to store fruits and vegetables in separate places. Avoid keeping it in the same place. In addition, do not forget to check the condition of vegetables and fruits that are stored regularly. If you find a yellowing, withered and rotten, immediately separate and discard the part.
9. Keep them in a box, wrapped in a paper towel
Take a box or container, line it with 1-2 paper towels or paper napkins, and then add the green leafy vegetables to the top. Then cover with another layer of paper and close tightly.
10. Refresh them with a jet of very cold water
To revive a little the vegetables with green leaves forgotten on the kitchen table or stored improperly, wash them well with a very cold water jet. You can take a larger bowl, add the green leafy vegetables, then spray with very cold water and leave them like that for 2-3 minutes.
11. Store at Room Temperature
Some vegetables may last longer when stored in the refrigerator. However, some types of vegetables will actually be damaged if stored in the refrigerator. Vegetables that are more durable if stored at room temperature are paprika, cucumber, and tomatoes. Peppers that are stored in the refrigerator will lose its elasticity, while tomatoes and cucumbers will turn into slimy if stored in the refrigerator for too long.
12. Keep them in a glass of water to maintain the hydration of the vegetable
Keep hydrated small and delicate leaf plants like dill, parsley, coriander, good herb, mint, etc. It is the most common trick of our grannies and consists of putting them in a glass jar or glass lengthened with 1 cm. of water and change the water every 2 or 3 days to avoid damage and bad odor. But, the trick for it to work well is that in the part that is in contact with the water, there should be no leaves, only the stem must touch the water and, very important, change every 3 days for freshwater.
13. Dry and place them in a rectangular container
Another option to keep them hydrated is to wash and dry them very well with a paper or cloth kitchen towel. When they are dry, take a cloth towel, moisten and remove all the excess water, delicately wrap the herbs there and store them in a Ziploc sleeve or in a rectangular container with a lid. In this way, when you need herbs, you should only remove the towel carefully, take the herbs you need and close them again, it is very important not to crush. With this technique, the herbs can last you between 2 and 3 weeks.
14. Do not store certain types of fruits and vegetables together
Certain types of fruits and vegetables start releasing ethylene as they ripen. These include fruits such as bananas, apricots, melons, pears, plums, mangoes, and tomatoes. However, there are fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene, such as apples, eggplants, watermelons, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, or broccoli. If the latter is placed near one of the vegetables or fruits in the first group, they begin to rot at a rapid rate. So it is best to store the members of the two groups away from each other.
15. Vegetables stored at room temperature need airflow
But beware, not all fruits and vegetables can withstand the cold as well. Some oxidize faster and lose their flavor. This is the case for tomatoes, apricots, mangoes, nectarines, potatoes, and even bananas. It is, therefore, preferable to store them at room temperature. It is not necessary to store vegetables hidden in a closed place. Under such conditions, they deteriorate sooner. With proper airflow, they can be stored in wooden or plastic boxes virtually anywhere in the home.
16. Leave them in the ground
It is probably the most simple and effective solution if you are lucky enough to have a vegetable patch. There are many vegetables that can stay in the ground for a very long time and that resist winter cold well. So, just pick them at the last moment, when you are going to cook. The only thing to watch out for is the risk of asphyxiation of the roots in clay soil and in case of very heavy rain. In this case, it is preferable to return them if the rains are prolonged in time. Similarly, if the temperatures drop below – 10 °, then do not leave your vegetables in the ground. But otherwise, this natural conservation practice is perfect!
17. Store them on a shelf
A shelf is a wooden box that lets air through. Besides, you may have noticed that fruit and vegetable sellers often have them on the markets, and this is no coincidence. Indeed, this material makes it possible to ideally store fruits and vegetables over the long term, such as pears, turnips, apples, or even potatoes. Just place the shelf in a ventilated, cool and frost-free place! There is no need to invest a radish in such equipment, a small wooden box recovered from a market does the job very well!
18. Put them in a silo
The silo contains a substrate which can be sawdust, peat, earth, or even sand for example. Vegetables can be immersed in them for preservation, especially root vegetables such as beets, turnips, or carrots. The silo can be buried in the garden or placed in a cellar. It is possible to use a barrel or even a drum of a washing machine. To store vegetables in this way be aware that you can cover your potatoes with a layer of straw to keep them. The preservation of fruits and vegetables must be optimal to preserve the benefits of food, and it is not necessary to place them all in the fridge.
19. Keep in an evaporative cooling refrigerator which you can build yourself
Refrigerators that use evaporative cooling instead of electricity are not new. The principle is very simple: the evaporation of water around the storage container cools the inside of it. In the meantime, there are some current models that take advantage of this principle – and many options for building such refrigerators yourself. An evaporative refrigerator with a modern design that we particularly like is the Mitti Cool Fridge.
It is made of clay, has enough space for food such as vegetables, fruit, milk, or cheese and a drinking water container. Water from a tank in the top of the fridge drips down the sides and evaporates, causing cold inside. According to the Indian manufacturer Mitti Cool, food stays fresh for several days in this way. There is also a tap on the tank that allows drinking water to be drawn off.
You can easily build simple versions of the evaporation refrigerator yourself: for example, by placing a smaller one in a larger flowerpot, filling the space with sand, and pouring water on it. Now you just have to keep the sand constantly moist, cover the whole thing with a damp cloth, and ideally place the refrigerator in a place where it gets a little wind. A product that cleverly combines the principles of evaporative cooling and product-specific (dry) storage is cubicle. The ceramic containers take the tried and tested pantry as a model. In principle, they can easily be used in every apartment. However, the cubile is not yet available for purchase.
20. Earth fridge
This is actually not a new idea either: ice cellars or beet cellars were used to cool food long ago. Classic basements in older buildings can also perform this function. But many modern basements are so well insulated or even heated that they are no longer suitable for storing perishable food. One project that takes advantage of the idea of cooling in underground rooms is the ground fridge. The cooling room, a kind of ball with stairs made of sturdy polyester, is simply buried in the ground, the removed ground is piled up at least one meter thick – and that’s it is the earth refrigerator.
Thanks to the insulation from the surrounding soil, a constant temperature of around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius should prevail in the ground fridge. The walk-in underground cold room is equipped with shelves, offers as much space as 20 refrigerators, and could therefore also be used as a collective storage room. The alternative is to build your own cold storage cellar or underground refrigerator, but this is relatively expensive.
21. Other tips that you should follow to keep the freshness of the vegetables for a longer time
- Do not keep vegetables near the stove or toaster. Natural gas increases the ripening of vegetables and thus leads to faster spoilage.
- Do not cut vegetables until cooked or eaten. Even if stored correctly, chopped vegetables spoil much faster.
- Put the greens and green leaves in a carafe or vase of water. They will last longer and you will have a nice green arrangement.
- Now a funny tip to keep onions fresh for up to 8 months: take an old pair of long socks and put onion, then make a knot to keep them separate, and finally hang the bunches in the pantry or kitchen.
- Store potatoes with apples to prevent sprouting, but away from onions, which is the enemy of potatoes.
- When it comes to lettuce leaves, keep them away from liquids. Keep them in a bowl on a kitchen towel, which will absorb moisture, cover it with plastic wrap.
- Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, away from light. Make sure you don’t put them in plastic wrap, as this will keep them moist and lead to their spoilage faster.
Factors needed to be considered while preparing the storage area for vegetables
It is important that factors such as moisture, condensation, mold, dust, humidity (too high or too low), and temperatures (too high or too low) are removed before storing vegetables and fruits. Especially if you don’t have a cellar and use a pantry. If it is needed and you think it is worth the investment, you can also install a ventilation system or heat insulate the walls.
Once these environmental issues are resolved, check the condition of the shelves, furniture, and accessories. If you deem it necessary, you can also add accessories and organizing systems such as wooden crates, hangers, or metal separation systems, which not only help you organize the space efficiently but also prevent unpleasant accidents – broken jars, hanging bags, etc. It is important to check the strength of the shelves on which you will store vegetables and fruits. Space must also be used in height, so do not be shy to install high shelves, as long as they are easily accessible.
Pay close attention to the condition of the materials in which you are going to store fruits and vegetables. If the wood is rotten, the same will happen with what you store in the boxes. Materials such as PVC, metal, ceramics, and antifungal treated paints maintain a much cleaner and more suitable environment for storage.
1. The right temperature
The ideal temperature in the storage space should not exceed 4-5 degrees Celsius, just like in the refrigerator. This temperature should be maintained in the cellar, including in summer. Install a thermometer to help you monitor the temperature and ventilate if you see it rise. When storing new jars and cans of vegetables and fruits, they must be cold so as not to endanger products already in the storage space. Last but not least, vegetables and fruits stored over the winter should not be exposed to freezing temperatures.
2. The right light
As a general rule, the room where you store fruits and vegetables should be dark. If there is still a window in the room, filter the light, and make sure that the sun’s rays do not fall directly on the products.
3. The right humidity
The rule says that the humidity in the cellar should be between 60-65%, but many vegetables, including potatoes, need a higher humidity of 90-95%. Humidity can be controlled with a humidifier or dehumidifier, as appropriate.
4. Ventilate the space
Ventilating the storage space is very important because it helps you maintain a proper temperature. If you notice fluctuations, you need to intervene in the ventilation, which can be enlarged. You can also install a fan or extractor on the vent hole. For a large cellar or cellar, there are also air conditioning systems that can be easily installed. When maintaining an airy space, the materials from which the walls are made also matter, as well as their insulation and finishing.
5. Protection from unpleasant and harmful odors
Charcoal or dried lavender successfully absorbs unpleasant odors. And sachets of lavender tea will keep pests at bay. On the market, however, there are also solutions specially designed for these problems.