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Old 02-09-2012, 08:27 PM   #1
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What's the best way to store produce?

I'm sure this has been asked before but I am having a hard time with this!

I buy celery and carrots sometimes to make soups and sometimes other recipes, but I find I don't make them fast enough and they always go bad. How do I store them? I don't have any vacuum-seal appliances and don't have the money to buy them either, and that's the only way I can think of to store them.

I've lost celery (have some dying in my fridge now actually), carrots, green onions, lemons, oranges, bananas, and other things. I don't want to waste anymore food or money (I try not to waste any food at all) but I'm finding it is too difficult to buy them and use them, especially when there's only two of us!

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Old 02-09-2012, 08:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DumbSheila
I'm sure this has been asked before but I am having a hard time with this!

I buy celery and carrots sometimes to make soups and sometimes other recipes, but I find I don't make them fast enough and they always go bad. How do I store them? I don't have any vacuum-seal appliances and don't have the money to buy them either, and that's the only way I can think of to store them.

I've lost celery (have some dying in my fridge now actually), carrots, green onions, lemons, oranges, bananas, and other things. I don't want to waste anymore food or money (I try not to waste any food at all) but I'm finding it is too difficult to buy them and use them, especially when there's only two of us!
Freezer is your friend! I make a "soup mix" where I finely chop all my languishing carrots, celery with leaves, onion, and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Then if I'm making soup, I don't even have to cook them, just pour some out and throw in the pot. Squeeze your citrus, pour in an ice cube tray, and when it's frozen, bag it too. Maybe save the zest, which also freezes. Bananas freeze well, mush them up or peel and chunk and freeze, good for smoothies. Half bananas frozen and dipped in chocolate are fun.

You just need some good quality freezer type bags.
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the tip! Do they taste frozen once they thaw out? (Crazy question, maybe...but I feel like you can taste when things have been frozen)
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DumbSheila
Thanks for the tip! Do they taste frozen once they thaw out? (Crazy question, maybe...but I feel like you can taste when things have been frozen)
Nope. I just throw them in the soup, frozen. If you use fresh, you should probably saute them.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:45 PM   #5
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Working on DL's ideas:

Mirepoix
Sofrito
Duxelles

All are mixed vegetable "mother" ingredient combinations that can be used to base other recipes upon, and my brief research indicates all can be frozen.
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Old 02-10-2012, 07:40 AM   #6
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You might be able to control some of that by where you shop. Markets sell produce two ways: pre-packaged and loose, although you see the latter less and less, unfortunately.

If you can find a market that sells loose produce, then buy it in smaller quantities. For instance, pre-packaged celery usually comes packed two-up. But you can buy just one (perhaps choosing the smallest one in the bin) from the "bulk" bin.

While it's true that you don't have to cook soup veggies before freezing, I usually do. Sauteeing onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc. first seems to add more depth of flavor, after freezing, than the raw ones. The exception is if I'm saving them up to make stock.

You can also dry those veggies, then add them in to soups and stews. If you don't have a dehydrator you can use your oven, on it's lowest setting. Leave the door cracked, though, to allow moisture to escape.
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:43 PM   #7
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First, let's go back and ask how long we're talking about keeping produce? And where in the refrigerator have you been storing them And what temperature is the fridge set to?

Celery and carrots should both go two weeks wrapped in plastic. (Carrot tops removed.) Oranges and lemons can go anywhere up to two months (one is more likely) in the vegetable crisper drawer which should be around 38F or so. Onions are trickier. First, there are different kinds of onions, and some store better than others. It's kind of an experiment to see if you have the kind of cool, dry place that works well for them stored with plenty of air circulation or if the refrigerator works best for you. In neither case should they be in plastic. Don't expect more than a few days out of green beans without freezing. Personally, if I was going to have freeze green beans, I'd just buy frozen to begin with.

And if you want to try something with green onions, get a jar, like a quart jar, of water. Trim the green back enough to fit in the jar, and cover the top with plastic. See if you get two or three weeks or more out of them.

Tomatoes are problematic if you like really flavorful ones. They like 60F, which is likely lower than your kitchen and much higher than anywhere in the refrigerator. So they go out at room temperature out of the light and can go into the warmest part of the refrigerator to hold them another day or two after they become fully ripe. (But not in with the other vegetables. Tomatoes outgas to the detriment of many others.)


And vegetables need humidity. If your crisper has a sliding adjustment that opens and closes an opening. closed is more humid.

All this is of course aside from freezing. I rarely freeze anything.
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie View Post

You can also dry those veggies, then add them in to soups and stews. If you don't have a dehydrator you can use your oven, on it's lowest setting. Leave the door cracked, though, to allow moisture to escape.
Agree. Dried celery leaves are the best. So fragrant and delish. I have a dehydrator, and do this frequently.

To keep celery, a tried and true method is to wrap it in aluminum foil. Keeps a loooooonnnnngggg time.

I have very good luck with the DM Green bags, but make sure the produce is dry.

Tomatoes should never be stored in the fridge. I keep them out on the counter, and they usually get used pretty quickly anyway.
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:26 PM   #9
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Thanks for the tips!! Maybe this will make me buy more produce and actually cook with fresher ingredients.
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