Fresh Vegetable Storage Saves Your Budget Money
You might rush over to your refrigerator once you’re done reading this to find out what vegetables are taking up valuable refrigerator real estate.
What does refrigerator real estate mean?
We consider purchasing a home on land real estate as somewhere you can live well the same goes for your refrigerator.
Your refrigerator is a place where food storage occurs however not everything you put in it needs to be there.
Many of us use up valuable refrigerator real estate for no reason which also causes property overflow.
Storing too much in your refrigerator requires it to work harder costing you more money in utility costs.
As well, you don’t want a refrigerator that is jam-packed constricting air-flow and moisture controls.
I’m sure many of you can agree that we’ve all had a time or two when our refrigerator had far too much in it.
However, many of those vegetables don’t need to be there and will comprise taste, nutrition, and quality.
Did you know if you store potatoes and onions together it speeds up the process of age?
When you store certain fruits and vegetables together the gasses they give off can impact what is in the same space.
For both potatoes and onions neither of them belong in the refrigerator nor should they be kept together.
Refrigerator Real Estate Tips To Save You Money
I wanted to talk about the proper way to store vegetables that don’t belong in the refrigerator for a couple of reasons.
One is that wasting food is a big deal and it costs Canadians tonnes of money every year.
Two, why compromise the taste and quality of the produce you eat when you don’t need to.
When grocery shopping on tight budget shoppers tend to limit or steer clear of fresh veggies as they get costly.
Opting for frozen vegetables especially out of season seems to be the frugal way to go.
So, if you do spend money on produce it’s so important to store them properly so you aren’t wasting money.
Gardening Season Lowers Refrigerator Real Estate
With the gardening season upon us it’s important to understand the basics of storing vegetables.
As many Canadians have turned to the garden this season due to COVID-19 it’s a great way to learn storage processes.
You’ll find most of our garden vegetables and herbs that we grew from seed in pots all around our property.
The reason for this is that we don’t have lots of land on our property however desire the ability to pick and eat.
By doing so we don’t have to worry so much about produce storage throughout the season but off-season we do.
Another thing you may find when bringing fresh produce into the house that sits on your counter is fruit flies.
We find that fruit flies tend to appear only when we pull vegetables from our garden over the summer months.
During the winter season, we have no issue with fruit flies.
However, we do have a sunroom and a cold room which allows us to store our herbs and vegetables over winter.
Let’s have a closer look at vegetables and herbs that don’t need refrigeration.
How to store tomatoes?
Our favourite tomatoes are heirloom and grown in an organic garden as they are the freshest and taste phenomenal.
If you freshly pick or purchase tomatoes always keep them on the counter and never refrigerate them.
By refrigerating tomatoes, you will destroy the membrane and find the taste to be bland.
It reminds me of tomatoes you buy off-season from the grocery store which tastes like nothing.
We store tomatoes at room temperature on the counter and check them often to make sure they are not spoiling.
If you find one spoiled tomato get rid of it before it causes the rest of your tomatoes to go off.
I also tend to wash tomatoes right before I use them rather than as soon as I pick them or bring them home from the store.
Any type of hard-shelled squash such as spaghetti squash, kabocha, pumpkin, pepper squash (acorn squash) is best kept in cool, dry, dark places.
If you have a root cellar or cold room this would be an ideal place to keep your hard-shelled squash types.
You do NOT need to store pumpkin in the refrigerator although I’ve never known anyone to do this.
Squash such as green and yellow zucchini we keep in the refrigerator in a reusable produce bag as it is not thick-skinned.
- How to store potatoes?
Not in the refrigerator
- How to store yams?
Nope, not in the refrigerator
- How to store sweet potatoes?
Keep them out of the refrigerator
I bet you didn’t know that sweet potatoes and yams yield a hard center when cut and flavour loss in the refrigerator.
Typically I keep my yams and sweet potatoes on the counter so I was saved by lack of refrigerator real estate.
There’s never enough space so we would always just set them on the counter as we’d buy only one or two.
The best way to store potatoes of any description at home is keeping them out of the refrigerator.
Did I mention that already?
Keeping a regular potato in the refrigerator does something to the starch giving the potato a sweet flavour.
Storing potatoes in a dark space, pantry, bin, or paper bag with good air circulation is ideal for optimal freshness.
You may notice the paper bag the potatoes come in from the grocery store has a mesh-like window at the front.
This is to keep air-flow through the potatoes while being stored as should be the yams and sweet potatoes.
How do you store cucumbers?
We found out last week that our cucumbers were taking up refrigerator real estate.
After considering vegetables at the grocery store I never thought cucumber would stay out of the refrigerator.
I bet most of you store your cucumbers in the refrigerator like we did but you don’t have to.
You do not need to keep cucumbers in the refrigerator as they will ripen and become mushy from waterlogging faster.
Since cucumbers are made up of water by refrigerating them the water seems to be drawn out causing them to spoil quicker.
We keep one or two seedless cucumbers on the counter or a bag of mini cucumbers without any issue for up to a week and a half.
To be fair we only buy what we will eat so there’s never an abundance of one vegetable available at one time.
How to store garlic?
We have had our fair share of experience with organic garlic over the past two years after picking over 1000 bulbs.
We dug, chopped, cleaned, and hung 1000 bulbs of garlic and replanted some bulbs to continue the growing season.
Any time you buy garlic or grow garlic and harvest you should never keep it in the refrigerator as it causes it to sprout early and mold.
The best defense against this is to bunch and hang your freshly picked garlic in a dry space such as a storage room or garage.
Fresh garlic you purchase from the grocery store is fine kept on the counter in a breathable ceramic jar or somewhere dark and warm.
How To Store Onions And Shallots
I’m going to bet that every one of you has stuck your hand in the crisper or a bag to find a moldy onion.
Hands up? Where are you? I know I have and the majority of the time that it does happen it’s because I’ve left it too long.
However, there’s another reason that will cause your onions and shallots to mold even faster.
Any type of onions with peel always get stored in a dry, dark place or on the counter in a darker area and will last up to a month.
Storing onions in the refrigerator moistens them and causes them to mold quickly causing bacteria that easily spread.
If you cut an onion for preparing a meal and have a chunk left simply put it peeled into a container and refrigerate.
We keep our onions in a breathable vegetable bag on our basement steps where it’s dark and has plenty of air circulation.
Generally, for spring onions, I will keep them washed and in a cup with a bit of water in the refrigerator if I plan to use them in a day or so.
If not, I wash them and wrap them in a paper towel and set them in the crisper as the greens are soft and gentle.
I’ve also kept spring onions on the counter in a cup with a bit of water as they will grow this way.
I will snip off the greens as it grows and you will have spring onions for days upon days.
Just make sure to change out the water every day to continue encouraging your spring onions to grow.
Fresh Herbs – Hard and Soft Herbs Storage Tips
Basil, for example, should be kept at room temperature of at least 4 degrees Celcius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
When we pick our soft herbs such as parsley, dill, mint, and basil we wash them in cold water and dry them first.
Second, we tie them in a bouquet like flowers and keep them in a glass with a bit of water covering the bottom stems.
Every day I will change the water to keep it fresh.
Whenever I need to use basil or parsley it’s ready to chop into a meal or use in a beverage.
Other herbs that are considered hard herbs such as rosemary, sage, bay leaf, oregano, chives, and thyme.
I wash and store these in the refrigerator rolled in a paper towel and put into a produce Ziploc bag or reusable bag.
Leaving fresh herbs for too long only allows them to die off quicker so use them as soon as you can.
How to store vegetables in the refrigerator without plastic
We also have reusable produce bags that we purchased online which come in handy as they offer air-circulation.
The costs are very reasonable to purchase and far more environmentally friendly.
Here’s a great guide for storing fresh herbs that you may have in your garden.
Buying herbs vs. growing herbs
Typically we only buy fresh herbs offseason as we grow all of our herbs during the summer from seed.
This is a smart way to enjoy the freshest herbs as we just go outside and pick it.
Our parsley was kept in our sunroom this past winter and survived without issue.
Both of our pots are now outdoors and we haven’t had to replant anything.
The mint we grew last summer goes dormant in the winter and comes back with a vengeance in the spring.
We always grow fresh mint in a pot since it is one of those herbs that like to spread quite rapidly when in the ground.
How To Store Avocado
Avocado for those of you who don’t know is considered a single-seeded berry and not a vegetable.
However, since many people consider it a vegetable I’ll add it to this list and again when I compile a fruit list.
I didn’t know this but avocado does not ripen on the tree until it is picked.
This is when the ripening process begins which is why you may find avocados still hard at the grocery store.
We often purchase a bag of avocado from Costco for $8.99 and refrigerate all but two at a time.
Our avocados are left on the counter in a dark space under the cabinets to ripen.
By refrigerating the avocado you slow down the ripening process which we do since we can’t eat all of them at once.
I often find if we don’t do this with our avocado we are left with 8 of them ready to eat at once.
When the avocado flesh is softer to touch but still has firmness I know it’s ready to eat which takes about 2 days.
Like bananas, an avocado also gives off ethylene gases which make them ripen faster if put into a paper bag.
I learned this from the produce guy who also said if you add apples and bananas together the concentration of ethylene will ripen them quickly.
Cabbage Storage Tips
Does cabbage need to be refrigerated?
Yes and no depending on how big your refrigerator is and whether or not you have a secondary space for it.
Generally storing cabbage in the refrigerator is the norm although it takes up quite a bit of refrigerator real estate.
If you have a cold room or root cellar this is an ideal place to keep your cabbage as it prefers the cold.
Store whole cabbage in the root cellar or cold room by keeping your cabbage in a plastic produce bag.
If you do store cabbage in the refrigerator or simply take off the old, hard leaves on the outside and in a plastic bag.
Storing whole cabbage properly will allow you to keep it whole for up to two months.
If you cut into the cabbage wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before putting it back into the crisper.
For those who want to learn how to store fresh produce for the winter consider the process, you should follow.
Keep refrigeration real estate working for you instead of against you and you’ll soon see savings on vegetables and herbs.
Next Post in the series: Keep an eye out for Fruits and Other Products you should never store in the refrigerator.
Discussion: Can you think of any other vegetables or herbs that do not need to go into the refrigerator? Leave me your comments below.