I absolutely hate it when I buy produce, and two days later when I go to use it, it has either turned to mush, or gone brown and it’s completely uneatable. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in the kitchen! To make sure that this doesn’t happen, I take the time to prepare and put away my produce. Anthony loves it when I am putting away the groceries, because he’s always running around and stealing bites of food!
A few things that I have learned are that after grocery shopping, and before putting away things in the fridge, take out the old stuff first. That way, you can finish off the older stuff, and then jump right into the fresher! I empty and clean my produce drawers each week when I do groceries, and my kitchen usually looks like this:
I usually set all of my older produce aside, and start to work on the new stuff. I generally prepare a sink full of cold water with ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, and bring out my salad strainer, a knife and my cutting board.
I prepare each item different based on how we generally use it. Like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, (some of my) sweet potato, celery and beets; are generally cut into small pieces, and are washed after being cut. I like to make sure that all of the dirt and the funk from the veggies is all off. Then, I let it dry from the strainer, on a clean towel, and keep on washing. Apples, oranges and most other fruit and veggies I was whole, and leave whole in the fridge. I just transfer them to a clean towel, and let them air dry.
Once everything is dry, I transfer it to either a dated and labeled Ziplock bag, or right into the drawer.
I wash greens and herbs a little more differently, and usually wait until I am done preparing the rest of my produce to wash and put away greens. Greens get soggy and brown and wilted QUICK. To wash my greens, I divide them up into two piles; for juicing and for salads/sautéing. The juicing greens usually do not look as pretty, and are smaller, or just irregular in size. I tear them up into small pieces, and place them in my strainer. I place the strainer in the water, give them a little toss with my hands (your BEST kitchen tools), and make sure that they are fully immersed in the water. I let it sit for about a minute, then just lift the strainer, let the water drip off, and drop them onto a clean, dry towel. I let them air dry for a minute, and then dry them myself with another towel.
Once I finish drying them, by just gently rubbing back and forth with the towel over the greens, I wrap them in paper towel.
They may still be a little damp, so I wrap it in another piece of paper towel, and then place it in a dated and labeled Ziplock bag.
Then, it is a matter of putting everything away. I generally place my juicing items on one side of my drawer, and the rest of my veggies on the other side. I organize my fruit too. Citrus on one side, and everything else on the left.
Certain things I don’t put in the drawer, like sprouts, cucumber, zucchini, ginger, and turmeric. For this I have a sheet tray, lined with paper towel on the bottom shelf of my fridge, and place the zucchini and cucumber on the tray – this way they don’t get smushed in the drawer by other heavy produce. Then I place the ginger and turmeric in a small strainer bowl on the sheet tray.
There are certain things that I don’t put in the fridge like onions, garlic, whole potatoes (I usually cut one up at a time), kiwi, tomatoes, bananas, avocado, pineapple, and peaches.
And sometimes when there are left overs, or things that need to be used up ASAP, we make juice! Like this Cucumber-Watermelon Juice!
What is your biggest challenge in keeping your produce fresh?