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Best Ways to Store Fresh Foods

When I was co-leading the Freezer to Table class at Wild Goose last weekend I realized that we completely missed the first step in produce preservation: proper storage of raw fruits and vegetables. Many foods can be preserved in their raw state for a long time if done at the right temperature and humidity.  Here are tips for extending the life of your fresh local foods, whether from your garden, farmer's market, or CSA:

~Eggs: If you get eggs directly from a farmer, develop a relationship and ask them to give them to you unwashed.  Unwashed eggs will keep at room temperature (just set them in a bowl on the counter) for 4 -5 weeks.  Washed eggs keep in the fridge for weeks at a time too.

~Bread: We store our fresh baked bread in a bread box.  It stays moist but doesn't mold for at least 3 -4 days, by which time it has usually disappeared in our house.

~Carrots/Beets/Rutabagas: These root vegetables last for months if you store them unwashed (dirty) in a loosely tied grocery sack in the refrigerator.  They would also keep well in a proper root cellar, but we don't have one of those.

lop off the tops and put these right into a bag

~Winter Squash/Pumpkins: Hard skinned squash stay fresh for months if kept unwashed at cellar temperature and low humidity with plenty of air flow.  Leave at least some stem on, as stemless squash will often rot at the top.  We keep them in a single layer on shelves in the basement near the dehumidifier. Use squash with blemishes first.

hokkaido blue ready for storage

~Tomatos: Always leave on the counter for best flavor and texture.

~Lettuce/greens: Store unwashed in the refridgerator in a loosely tied plastic sack. Only wash and cut what you will use in the span of a day or two.

~Onions/Garlic/Shallots: Store in a cool low humidity environment with skins on.  Don't put these bulb vegetables with your potatos or the potatos will develop eyes more quickly.

~Blueberries/Stone fruit (plums, peaches, etc.): Flavor and texture is best preserved by leaving them unwashed at room temperature.  These healthy beauties get eaten much faster when we leave them on the counter too.

And my favorite tip, shared by Charlie of Windy Hill Apple Farm:

~Apples: Wash your fresh apples, place WET in a loosely tied plastic grocery bag, and store in your fridge.  Every month or so, re-wet apples to keep them crisp.

This changed my life and I was able to enjoy delicious Ohio apples from fall picking all the way through late spring!

Do you know any tips to share for storing raw foods?  Questions about foods that go bad quickly?  Leave a comment!