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ways of storing and preserving produce?

I am really frustrated with having fruits and veggies go bad before i can eat them…i try hard not to buy too much but i either buy too much or don’t buy enough at a time.

anyway…i don’t like leaving them in the plastic bags because 1) they’re plastic 2) veggies go bad quickly..

what is the best way to store them to extend shelf life(and also maybe reserve some room in a small fridge? Does cutting them up make them go bad faster? What veggie bags do you find are the best? I saw some online but they were still plastic.

Thanks for any suggestions…produce is such a huge part of our shopping..was just wondering how others do it without wasting tons of money, esp when you don’t have a good market near by.


  • Those seen on tv green bags seem to work. It does take a while to figure out how much to buy, I usually go to the store 2-3 times a week. When I do have things starting to get too old I pop them in the freezer to be used for smoothies.

  • I too, use the green bags and I think they work great. I wash and bag as soon as I get home. I have had fruits that usually go bad quickly last for weeks.

  • This is a tough question. I live just a few minutes from my grocery store, so I’m comfortable running out whenever I need something. However, when it comes to produce, if I buy in larger quantities, storage is definitely a concern. I use those Ziploc vegetable bags (with the tiny holes in them) for greens such as baby spinach. I buy my baby spinach in big 1-lb plastic tubs, but I find that if I leave them in the tubs for more than a couple of days, the moisture inside the tub starts to wilt the tender leaves. I’ll divide the tub’s contents into two bags. Even so, after about 5 days the spinach will still go a bit limp on me, but never soggy. The vegetable bags come in handy too, because they take up far less room than big plastic tubs. With asparagus or even broccoli, I’ll cut off the ends, then stand them up in a container with some fresh water in it. I’ll put a plastic bag over the whole thing and that seems to help them keep much longer. That works well for herbs, too. I don’t chop anything up ahead of time, unless I’m deliberately trying to prepare snacks like carrot or celery sticks, but they’re meant to be consumed within a day or two. Otherwise, carrots and celery remain intact and in their original bags, in the crisper.

    The biggest issue is the temperature in the refrigerator. Unless you have individually temp-controlled compartments, you’ll have to strike a balance so that nothing goes bad from not being cold enough, but nothing is so cold that it gets frosty and breaks down. This may be a problem for you if you’re keeping fish, meat, eggs or dairy in your fridge. I’ve reserved my meat drawer for nuts and seeds, since it’s the coldest down there. The more fragile the produce, the higher up in the fridge it goes. This has worked out pretty well, but I definitely have waste if I buy too many greens and just can’t get through them before they start to rot.

    As for fruits, I try not to refrigerate them, because I think their taste gets dulled in the fridge. The exceptions are lemons, limes and grapes. Everything else, including tomatoes, sits out on a pretty platter. I’m trying not to buy too much at one time, so that this system can work without stuff going bad on me. I hate overripe fruit and wilted, waterlogged or browning greens just means an express trip through my garburator and a total waste of money!

  • That’s a great question. I saw those bags at bed bath and beyond but didn’t know if they worked that well.

    Is it best to wash when you bring them home or wash before eating? Does that make a difference either way?

  • I forgot to mention. A lot of times when I’m deciding what to eat I think about what I need to eat before it goes bad. Like tonight, I know I’ve got my last beet in the bunch that’s gonna go soft if I don’t have it real soon, so I’ll make a quick slaw with it. For lunch today I was thinking nori wraps but decided instead on collard wraps cause I have a bunch of leaves that only have a couple of days of goodness in them.

    Was that too obvious?! Hope it helps : )

  • thanks all! are the veggie bags plastic?? or another material? I too am wondering whether i should wash and chop veggies when i get them…they often sit wet in the supermarket so i am wondering if i should wash them before i use them or when i first get them.

  • The green stay fresh bags definitely work. I always have them WalMart even has them now. Putting a peice of paper towel put into the bag helps absorb moisture. When I buy the bins of spinach or spring greens mix, a paper towel thrown into it helps absorb that moisture that builds up and it definitely extends the life of the delicate greens.

    I also use colloidal silver storage bins. That seems to help also.

  • Just bumping this topic! I wasn’t sure about the green bags, but from what I read they seem like a good investment. I’m looking forward to hearing more ideas!

  • Rawforhealth, I would wash everything when you get it home, then bag it or put it in containers. This way, everything’s clean and ready whenever you want/need it. Also, you’re in control of how much moisture there is. I’ve brought home bags of baby carrots that seem to be floating in an ounce of water, to keep them from drying out, but all that water will turn the carrots to mush. I take them out of the bag, rinse them, then towel them off partially. I put them in a fresh bag or container so that they last longer. I do not cut anything ahead of time, unless it’s purely for a convenient grab-and-go snack, like carrots or celery. In this case, I’d only do a carrot or two (or celery) and put them in a baggie. Keeping the celery stalks attached to the heart will keep them fresh longer. The only exception to this rule is something like radishes in a a bunch. I find that if the leaves are the slightest bit soggy, they’ll rot out the radishes in just a couple of days. If I cut off the entire stem and leaf section, then wash the radishes and let them air dry, they can be put in a container and they will keep for a couple of weeks.

    I can’t comment on the green bags, because I’ve never tried them, but I’m thinking about doing so, since I’ve heard good things about them.

  • I got one of my preservation books out “Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food” by Janet Chadwick It says, “When harvesting squash and pumpkins, leave them in the sun or warm room (65°-75°F) for two weeks to cure…wash w/ solution of 1/2C bleach to a gallon of cold water. This will prevent bacteria growth during storage…store in dry, well-ventilated area 50°-60°F…squash and pumpkins should keep well into midwinter.” It also gives suggestions like pull cabbage (select cabbage) w/ roots still intact, you can store a large supply of carrots in sand in a cool area…it touches on freezing, drying, and canning…root cellars, etc. Just thought I’d share that tid bit since its harvest season and so if you don’t think you can take advantage of a good deal on winter squash due to spoilage you may want to reconsider…

  • Can I add some tips here?? -NEVER wash produce til you’re ready to use it.

    -if it’s leafy, or broccoli, or herby, wrap it in a DRY DRY kitchen towel, roll it up, and throw it in the fridge. Moisture makes greens rot. The drier, the longer they will stay.

    -cilantro that still has roots on can go in a vase like flowers, and won’t get nasty… that’s always my worst offender.

    -before i had 100 kitchen towels to use, I used to throw paper towels in the plastic bags for greens, and replace them as they got moist.

    -refrigerate greens, broco, cauli, red/yellow peppers, and nothing else. Fruit and all veges go out on the counter or out on my back porch. And I go shopping once a week, so I keep a close eye on the shape of what I’ve got on the verge of turning bad!!

    Try the kitchen towel thing- it surprised me when I first learned it, and now I’m a convert. My mother in law actually makes fabric bags (denim, which she has in abundance) for her veggies, and they keep things fresh forever. I don’t have denim (neither fresh bags here, for that matter) but I’ve bought sackcloth bags and used them too.

  • Someone needs to invent the “RAWfridgerator” that accomodates the perfect produce storage.

  • Someone needs to invent the “RAWfridgerator” that accomodates the perfect produce storage.

  • MeditatingMeditating Raw Newbie

    For less moist foods that don’t require refrigeration, I purchased a Vacuum Food Storage Container.

    It works very well for items that contain small amounts of moisture. I haven’t tried many moist items in it. Sometimes you do have to open it and wipe the condensation out. I bet it would be great for onion bread or crackers, which I haven’t made since purchasing it. Apples, oranges, garlic, onions, avocado, and not too ripe bananas keep really well.

  • I tried the green bags and for the first time my bananas rotted. I now do what I am used to doing, just putting them on the counter. I keep fruits, tomatoes, and onions in a bowl. I shop once a week and hardly ever use anything. I have stuff stuffed all through the fridge because I have to share the space with two sad eaters. For some reason it works for me.

  • I have used Vacuum Saver Storage containers. If you cut the green tops off of the radishes the will last almost a month. Cut green scallions and celery to fit lasts about two weeks. I do put Romain lettuce in the tall containers I have to cut the tops a bit, but use for that day. They will last 2-3 weeks depending on how old they where. Other leaf lettuce and spinach doesn’t do well. Also, the items like cabb. brocc., caul., get pretty smelly.

    I haven’t used bananas in Green bags they are usually in the freezer. The green bags are great for the items that you cant put into the Saver Storage. By the way if tomatoes are very firm they to will work in Saver Storage.

    I buy only organic so don’t wash produce until I use it. Also, don’t wash the inside of the green bags before you use them.

  • PANDORA What are colloidal silver storage bins? Where can you buy them? Thanks :)

  • I collect old newspapers from my campus that are going to be thrown away. When I go grocery shopping I wrap my veggies in a layer or 2 of newspaper. The newspaper absorbs the moisture keeping the veggies fresh and there’s no plastic :). Also, its free, its recycling, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of people looking to give you their newspaper.

    hehe… i think as a college student I think of lots of creative ways to really really cheap.

    give it a try!

  • rolling herbs up in a damp cloth keeps them fresh for weeks! .. Just make sure you keep the cloth damp (:

  • I don’t know if anyone mentioned these, but I continue to use the ExtraLife Produce Disks with great success. I just wish they were reusable or recyclable. My kale used to wilt in 2 days, but now stays crips for a week! Can be found at amazon http://www.amazon.com/ExtraLife-Produce-Preserv…

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