food storage question
August 21, 2015 8:12 AM   Subscribe

The CSA haul this week was huge (yay!), but my refrigerator space is limited (boo). So I'm wondering, does everything need to go in the refrigerator? Specifically, green bean salad?

I made a green bean salad with (cooked fresh) green beans, sweet onions, and a dressing made of balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. It is sitting in the refrigerator right now, but with those ingredients, is that really necessary?
posted by merejane to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. Maybe you have other things in your fridge that could come out?
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 8:17 AM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have the chart at the bottom of this page pinned to my fridge.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:19 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have large squash in there (not zucchini and summer squash, but like butternut? That can come out and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Never put tomatoes in the fridge. It kills the flavor.
posted by Gungho at 8:50 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Produce in general doesn't have to stay in the fridge (although it may last longer in it), so if it is a temporary measure then you can leave almost anything out, or at least the things you will finish first.

Once you cook/cut/prepare it however that all changes and in general should be refrigerated . So I would put the bean salad in the refrigerator and take out other stuff.

I don't know if this is good advice or not, but I kind of go by how things are kept in the grocery store. If it is refrigerated there, then it should be refrigerated at home. If it isn't, then it doesn't need to be.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would keep the salad in the fridge (you've already combined the veg with a dressing; that's enough to say Refrigerate! to me) and pull out the produce that hasn't already been turned into recipes. Humboldt32's chart is a good one.

On preview, seconding portmanteau.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2015

I'd definitely keep the green bean salad in the fridge.

But I hear you on the full-to-bursting fridge because I have the same problem; I've tackled it by trying to freeze some things. Especially zucchini - you can pre-slice or pre-shred or pre-whatever zucchini and then just dump it into a ziploc and freeze. (Protip: get some of those little "snack size" baggies to put them in first, and then stuff those smaller containers into a larger freezer-safe baggie - that way you have them in smaller and easier-to-portion sizes.) I do that to nearly all the zucchini I get because I get a crapton.

You can freeze things like corn or peas or greens too - with those, it's best to blanch before freezing. Just get a big pot of water boiling, and when it's at a full boil, dump in whatever you're going to blanch and boil it for a minute tops (less for greens). Then fish it out, run it under super-cold water, and then freeze the same way you did with the zucchini. I also seem to get a lot of kale and collard greens from my CSA - those can be frozen too, with a blanching first. I cut them up first, then blanch them and sometimes cut them again even smaller before stuffing into bags.

And then you just use them the way you would frozen veggies from the supermarket. Having kale or other greens in the freezer is perfect in winter, when I'm making soups - I just fish a frozen snack baggie or two of chopped kale out of the freezer and drop them directly into the pot. With the zucchini, if you're sauteeing them you can defrost a tiny bit so it's not a bid solid block, and then dump it in the pan even though it's a little frozen. I've had success that way (it may be a tiny bit on the mushy side, but that's never bothered me). The frozen shredded zucchini is good for zucchini bread in winter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think once it's dressed it really has to be refrigerated, while a lot of produce will tolerate at least a few days on the counter.

I also put as much as possible in the freezer, but that's because I have a separate chest freezer, so I know mileage varies wildly regarding room to spare.

(Tomato rebuttal, btw.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and underscoring again how great it is to have some of your produce banked in the freezer for the winter. The collard greens come in handy with me especially, because I try to be all cute and make hoppin' john and collard greens on New Year's Day, and winter is also when I sometimes have a hankering for home-made greens and fried chicken and mac-and-cheese and cornbread and gumbo z'herbes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2015

Yes - it'll grow bacteria or mold if left out at room temperature. Any prepared food needs to go in the fridge. A salad should go on the middle or bottom shelf because, at least in my experience, salads or leftover veggies on the top shelf even at a lower fridge temp tend to get a little frosty. Depending on what all else you have in the fridge you can probably rearrange things to make room for a bowl of salad. You can also try putting foil on top of the bowl and place other stuff on top if that would help conserve space.
posted by atinna at 11:50 AM on August 21, 2015

Counterpoint: Why You Should Refrigerate Tomatoes and Ignore Anyone Who Says Otherwise

This salad -- is it simply sitting in a round bowl that takes up a lot of space in a stupid way? Do you have some squarish jars it could be transferred to, jars that could be stacked on top of each other? Can you put it in a big thick zip-lock bag so it can fit in a weird part of the door?
posted by kmennie at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2015

We are on year 3 of CSA and eating through last week's haul is an emerging habit, so we suffer as you do.

What might stay outside: 2-3 ripening/softening fruits currently 3 nectarines.
A whole melon/cantaloupe may wait a day until there is more room.
Potatoes and bulb onions stay out of the fridge here.

What reduces volume: cooking the corn on day 1 - and cutting it off the cob if there are leftovers. or shucking It and putting it in a ziplock in the coldest part of the fridge until tomorrow.

Prepping curly kale by de-stemming it and dicing for tomorrow's greens and squishing it in a minimal air ziplock bag. Or treating the fluffy kale bag like a pillow and stuffing it in space where it can compress some. Massaging kale with a little salt preps it for salad and it takes up less room, too(feta, Apple & a sweet/soft vinegar)

The rest is refrigerator Tetris!
posted by childofTethys at 5:49 PM on August 21, 2015

​Thanks so much for all your comments. This is my first year as a CSA shareholder, and I have a lot to learn. This thread is a great help.

The green bean salad has now been eaten (by husband, daughter, and me), so that freed up space! But I like the idea of storing it in a square container, or even a gallon-size thick ziploc bag. (Because you guessed right, kmennie, it was in a round bowl that took up a lot of space in a stupid way!)

I also appreciate the suggestion to freeze some things. We get a lot of kale and chard, so those would be good candidates, as has been mentioned.

What I ended up doing, after reading the comments, is refrigerating that green bean salad (before it got gobbled up), and also the lettuce and kale. I think I might cut up and freeze the kale. The corn (six cobs) have already been eaten by the three of us. The rest of the haul* is out on the kitchen counter, on dinner plates. It looks gorgeous, and I think it will encourage me to cook this weekend, seeing it all out there. My basic plan, as any portmanteau said, is that once I cook/cut/prepare a vegetable, I will refrigerate (or freeze) it, by playing refrigerator Tetris (thanks, childofTethys, for that phrase!).

Thanks again, everyone!

*Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, Asian eggplant, and peaches (which will either get eaten this weekend or made into a cobbler).
posted by merejane at 6:09 AM on August 22, 2015

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