One of the best reasons to buy produce at your local farmer’s market is that it was harvested in a location much closer to you, and is fresher when you purchase it than the produce available at most grocery stores. However, storing produce appropriately when you return home is extremely important to make sure everything stays fresh until you are ready to use it.
Grocery stores often use plastic shrink wrap, or coat their produce in wax in order to reduce decay and make sure shelf life is longer. This not only contributes to unnecessary plastic waste, but also means you need to scrub or peel your veggies before you can consume them. Buying locally grown produce is best, and means your fruits and veggies are fresher and should store much longer without the need for plastic wrap or produce wax.
We’ve put together a quick list of our summer fruits and veggies and a bit about how we feel they should be stored for maximum longevity. Storing produce without extra waste is something we can all feel good about!
Summer Produce to Store at Room Temperature
- Basil: Fresh basil is extremely sensitive to cold temperatures and refrigeration can cause the leaves to turn black. We’ve found it keeps best in an airtight container on the counter and out of the sun.
- Watermelon: Will keep up to a week on the counter. You only need to refrigerate it after cutting it open.
- Tomatoes: Will continue to ripen on the counter. Keep an eye on these guys and consume when fully ripe. Refrigeration can help keep a fully ripe tomato fresh for a few days without spoiling, but it also reduces flavor.
- Winter Squash
Summer Produce to Refrigerate
- Okra: Keeps best in a paper bag.
- Summer Squash
- Greens (Kale, Chard, Collards etc)
- Green Onions & Leeks
- Snow Peas
- Beets: Separate the leaves from the roots for longer storage
- Carrots: Separate the leaves from the roots for longer storage
Despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Veggies get overlooked, or forgotten about, or we forget to refrigerate them promptly. Signs of spoilage include wilting, discoloration, and leaking. If this happens, remove any spoiled fruit or veggies and discard immediately. Check remaining produce and rinse with cold water before storing again.