Which fruits or vegetables keep the longest?
September 19, 2004 10:39 AM   Subscribe

What kinds of fruit/vegetables have you found that keep longest? For more perishable stuff, are there any methods (short of freezing) for extending shelf life?
posted by casarkos to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Toss a green disk in the produce drawer.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2004

Apples (in a plastic bag), carrots, onions, and garlic keep for a surprisingly long time in the refrigerator. So do potatoes, although keeping them in the refrigerator causes them to become sweeter (or so I'm told.)

Fresh ginger can be peeled and placed in a jar of vodka or sherry, where it will keep indefinitely. Then you can use the ginger-infused alcohol in your cooking. Alternately, it can be peeled, cut into chunks, frozen, and then grated without thawing when required.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:20 AM on September 19, 2004

Thinks of things people used to store in cellars and eat all winter: roots, like carrots, turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas; cabbages; and probably some more stuff I'm forgetting. Collared greens last a while for me in the fridge. Apples and oranges can sit in there too. Potatoes and dried beans/pea/lentils are vegetable in that they come from plants, and they last a while, but nutritionally they're starch/carbs and legumes/proteins respectively.
posted by Utilitaritron at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2004

Winter squash (any of the ones with a hard skin) keep a long time, preferably in a cool dry place rather than a fridge.

If you're able to buy veg from a farmers' market the food will already be days fresher than in most grocery stores, so you have that much extra time to get around to cooking it.
posted by zadcat at 11:55 AM on September 19, 2004

Oooo, I get to share the herb secret I just discovered. You know how they sell herbs in plastic boxes in the supermarket? And you know how you buy a box and use a pinch and the rest ends up turning black? Well if you put a shred of paper towel in the box with the herbs, they last for weeks! I left on a sudden trip and came back two weeks later and still had fresh marjoram, sage and rosemary.

Also, if you slice up celery and store it in a big jug of water, it lasts ages.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:06 PM on September 19, 2004

Many vegetables and some fruits (particularly apples) will keep for months given the right storage -- that's what root cellars were all about. Cool, humid, dark, and with decent air circulation are the requirements; possible to set up at home, but probably not worth it for most people. The Root Cellar Home Page will tell you more.

Leafy greens like letuces want to wilt very soon, though modern methods have stretched the time considreably -- from days to weeks -- there really is no good long term storage for such things. The food issue of the New Yorker from a couple of weeks ago had a profile that went into considerable detail about the problems involved with getting salad greens to market.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2004

Cabbage and its family. Broccoli keeps a good while. It gets yellow, but is okay to eat. Sweet potatoes keep well. Red peppers keep a bit, and you can cut off any black spots.

Apples and citrus fruits keep quite well.
great. now I'm hungry.
posted by theora55 at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2004

A good many berries and fruit can be frozen directly. Just make sure the fruit/berries are clean and sorted; don't put damaged or rotting fruit in the batch. Seal air-tight so they are less likely to get freezer burn.

I've had cherries last for over a year this way, pits in and still delicious. I've had peaches last for months on end. Of course in both cases, neither was fit for eating "as if fresh"; they were suitable only as ingredients to milkshakes, fruit crisps, waffles, and the like. Or eaten frozen. Frozen cherries = yummy!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2004

Food preservation is a subject dear to my heart. I am particulary fond of the fermentation method as it tastes fantastic, and is very healthy for digestion. Take a jar, add some hard veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celerey, etc..), add a table spoon of salt, add a few tablespoons of live yoghurt, then let sit for a week. A film of mold forms at the top which is safe and can be ignored. When it gets sour enough, put into the refrig. The lactobacteria that forms turns the food pleasantly sour and is full of enzymes. It is the cheapest and easiest way to make really good food and healthy that will last forever. Lacto acid kills other bacteria, it is very safe.

Salt is another preservation method. I have raw green beans mixed with salt in a mason jar in the cubard .. they will last up to 5 years. No refrig, no special packaging. When ready to use, soak for a while to remove the salt. Retains most of the nutrients that way.
posted by stbalbach at 8:06 PM on September 19, 2004

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