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The best ways to store and use up produce.
I want to try something a little different with The Fresh Letter today. Since this newsletter’s inception, I’ve kept a running list of hacks, techniques, and cooking methods I think you should know about and use that list as a source of inspiration for each week’s Fresh Letter topic. Of course, the goal of my tip-sharing is to help you get comfy in your kitchen, so I had a bit of a “no, duh” moment when I mentioned to Quentin that I was thinking of soliciting requests for kitchen advice to dictate the newsletter topic this week. Why not let you act as the guide for where my kitchen knowledge would be most useful? Plus, the Jewish yenta in me absolutely loves giving advice, solicited or otherwise.
So yesterday, I took to Instagram and asked you to share your biggest kitchen pain points and you delivered. I received a number of great questions, but want to kick this advice segment off with a very frequently asked question, because I know there’s huge demand for an answer! Let’s get into it:
Cris says, “My produce is always going bad in the fridge! I can’t figure out the best way to store broccoli , berries, herbs etc. I usually grocery shop every two weeks, but if I don’t use all the vegetables within the first few days, everything goes bad. I’m finding that the first week after groceries, I have balanced meals with a variety of veggies, second week its all pantry items! Not sure if it’s just unrealistic to store raw broccoli for one to one and a half weeks?”
Thanks for your question, Cris! We won’t get to every fruit and veggie, but let’s talk about a few of my best practices for produce storage…
Broccoli should definitely last at least five days in the fridge. Remove it from any plastic it may have come in, wrap it in damp paper towel, and store it in your crisper drawer in the fridge. Avoid chopping until you plan to use it because keeping it whole will help it last longer. This storage method works well for cauliflower as well.
On the other hand, berries are extremely delicate, so they won’t keep quite as long, but one thing that improves their longevity is waiting to wash them until just before you plan to eat them. Store them in a breathable container in the fridge until then. And if you spot one berry going moldy, that’s a good sign that the rest should be washed and consumed within the next day-or-so.
Soft herbs like cilantro and parsley should be rinsed and dried, then stored wrapped in very lightly damp paper towel in a ziplock in the fridge. Basil, which is notoriously finicky, does best out of the fridge with stems in a jar of water.
Alliums like garlic and onions should keep for weeks or even months when stored in a cool, dry place. I keep mine separate from any other produce in a decorative bowl on my counter.
Similarly, keep your potatoes stored in a cool, dry place, and make sure they have air flow. Don’t store them in the same place as your onions/garlic as this can cause them to sprout faster. Otherwise they should also keep for a couple weeks at least.
If there’s any veggie storage topic I’ll get on my soap box about, its tomatoes. They don’t belong in the fridge. I repeat! Do not store tomatoes in the fridge. It makes them mealy. Yuck. Store them on the counter in a cool dry place and eat them within 4-5 days.
Avocados are such a pain point. My best practice is to purchase avocados before they’re ripe, then store them on the counter with any other produce I’m keeping out (they go in the potato bowl) and whisk them directly into the fridge as soon as they’re at peak ripeness. If unopened, they stay fine in the fridge for at least 3-4 days. I won’t cover storage of opened avocados here because I could probably write an entire newsletter on this topic alone.
Cris is also wondering about how to work more veggies into their diet in between grocery trips, which I’ll address as well:
Some produce lasts longer than others. The examples Cris gave (broccoli, berries, and herbs) do all need to be consumed within a week-or-so, but there are so many great options that keep longer including: carrots, cabbage, celery, onions & garlic, potatoes, and squash. Lean into those veggies for your second week between grocery trips.
Don’t be afraid to opt for freezer and pantry-stable produce items—they’re delicious and, as they say, nutritious. I love frozen peas, green beans, and spinach and regularly use canned corn and tomatoes in my cooking.
You can lengthen the longevity of your produce by cooking it! If something looks like it’s on its last legs, work it into a quick stir fry, soup, or casserole, then store it in the fridge for another couple days longer than it would have lasted raw or in the freezer for months.
Alright, that was fun! I hope this was helpful, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this slightly different format for The Fresh Letter either way. You can respond directly to this email or drop a comment below with any feedback. And if you have questions that you’d like to see me answer in future editions of The Fresh Letter, feel free to respond or comment with those as well.
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,