Best way to store vegetables in the fridge?
August 12, 2018 7:14 PM   Subscribe

I've been harvesting a lot from my garden, and I've been putting most things into plastic bags I've gotten from the grocery store or greenmarket. Using plastic is sort of wasteful, but other bags don't keep the vegetables fresh. So how do you store your vegetables in the fridge without them getting sad?

The biggest issue is that my vegetables go all rubbery - string beans, snap peas, zucchini, cucumber, etc.

I have a bunch of Bio-bags, but I've never been really happy with them - I think they breathe too much or something. Regular Ziploc bags could work, but that feels even more wasteful than using plastic bags from the grocery or whatever.

Any ideas?
posted by gchucky to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You might find some guidance in this article from the Kitchn.
posted by stray at 7:20 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use something similar to this . I also have some mesh bags for less sensitive veggies.
posted by chemicalsyntheticist at 7:34 PM on August 12, 2018

My colleague swears by this, but ymmv.
posted by awkwardpanda at 7:46 PM on August 12, 2018

Some kind of box with a partly open lid or a basket insert and a paper towel to absorb moisture. The custom made plastic boxes with vented lids and a basket insert are good but a regular cardboard box or tupperware works too. I can usually keep stuff good for two weeks that way, unless I have a lot of produce in the fridge and it gets too dank in there.
posted by fshgrl at 7:47 PM on August 12, 2018

I wrap my veggies in parchment paper and put them in the crisper and depending in the veggie, they stay good for about 2 to 4 weeks.
posted by smashface at 8:40 PM on August 12, 2018

I always get small paper bags- like lunch bag size- and I store my veggies in them. They breath and extend life.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:47 PM on August 12, 2018

I use ziplocs for this, but I'm a ziploc re-user so it doesn't feel that wasteful. We buy a new box of gallon-sized ziplocs maybe twice a year and wash and re-use the rest of the time. Storing the fresh veg just in the drawer does lead to faster spoilage in my experience. I've also had some luck letting them come slowly down to inside (air conditioned) room temp, then washing in some cold water before putting in the fridge. My totally unscientific theory is that going straight from the warm outside into the cold fridge is not good for them.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:15 AM on August 13, 2018

I'm another ziploc re-user. I also have plastic containers in various sizes for storage purposes.

For longer-term storage, though, i try to freeze some; which the freezer-safe ziploc bags are perfect for. Prepping vegetables for freezing is pretty easy - put a huge pot of water on the stove to boil, chop the vegetable to the size you think you'd eat it in, and then when the water is boiling, dump the vegetable in and let boil for about 30 seconds (for leafy greens) to a minute or two (for firmer veg). Then drain, rinse in a lot of cold water until it cools down, then pack into freezer bags and throw it in the freezer. Boom.

There are those who recommend pouring the blanched-and-cooled veg onto a cookie sheet and popping that in the freezer first for an hour, then dumping the frozen veg into a bag for storage; I've not had a problem doing it my way. But - one reason the freezer-tray thing is recommended is so you don't have all your frozen veg in a big lump in the bag. The way I get around that sometimes is I get some of those really small "snack size" plastic baggies, which are the perfect size to hold a cup of whatever vegetable you've got. Pack the blanched-and-cooled veg into a bunch of those snack-size baggies, and then stuff those into the ziploc freezer bags and freeze. Then it's easy to just pull one or two snack-size baggies out of the bigger bag when you need them and leave the rest. (The snack-size baggie method also works for freezing pureed vegatables, like squash, in single-cup portions; conveniently, single-cup portions are what you need for things like, oh, pumpkin bread.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on August 13, 2018

Tupperware can work for this. I have several flat containers that are maybe the size of a 9x11 pan. I think they are made to carry cupcakes or something. For greens, I wash and spin dry in a salad spinner, line the bottom of the container with paper towels and place another paper towel on top and close with the lid. This will keep greens, herbs, etc., for weeks. (I get a CSA box every other week and it's the best way to make things last for the 2 weeks.)

For the things that get rubbery - I too hate a rubbery zucchini - the tupperware works for that as well. I don't always line with paper towels for those kinds of veg but I can keep carrots, squash, fennel, etc good for a long time in a container.

The biggest problem is having the right size of container, and that it takes up all that space and kind of negates any "fresh foods" drawer systems in your fridge.
posted by misskaz at 7:38 AM on August 13, 2018

I also reuse plastic bags. Get the freezer bags, not the regular ones - they're sturdier and easier to wash. I reuse yogurt containers for smaller things like beans (Tupperware would work but I always have extra yogurt containers).

Maybe someone else has a better solution, but if you're looking for something flexible and airtight plastic is the best option.
posted by ersatzhuman at 6:06 PM on August 13, 2018

This is a bit out of left field, but have you looked into canning and processing your excess. I know that it certainly is possible, when little we grew a large portion of our own food and making a large batch of pasta sauce and putting it into a mason jar means that it is really easy to have pasta for dinner and the sauce is just incredible made from your own ripe tomatoes home grown onion, garlic and basil. You get a lovely taste of summer in the depths of winter. Also look into pickling things, for example your string beans can be made into Dilly beans (which make the most excellent garnish for a martini) and they will last forever and done well still have a good snap to them.
posted by koolkat at 1:36 AM on August 15, 2018

Yeah, Biobags absorb moisture- I know this because I once lazily stuck a Biobag of greens into a second conventional plastic bag and the greens wilted in a day. We re-use grocery store produce bags, but if I were less lazy I would wash and prep veggies and stick them in glass containers so they were ready to go right out of the fridge.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2018

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