One of the many benefits of having your own vegetable garden is the constant availability of fresh food in the summer and fall. But there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve wasted your hard work when you find produce you just picked wilted and not ready for anything except the compost bin. Here are some tricks that farmer’s market sellers use to keep their produce fresh during market time.
Don’t pick your produce until the absolute last second. It’s tempting to go ahead and harvest what you’ll need for dinner when you’re watering your garden in the morning, but that’s one of the main culprits for wilted produce. Allow the vegetables to stay on the vine all day, and make a pre-dinner harvest part of your nightly routine.
Properly storing produce is important, even if you’re only going to store them for a few moments till you cook them. Herbs and green vegetables should be kept in a small amount of water, so that the roots are covered. Delicate fruits and produce, like tomatoes, should be kept away from anything that could bruise them. Refrigeration is a good way to keep lettuce crisp.
Moisture encourages mold on the surface of edibles, so it’s important to dry any vegetables after washing, especially if you plan to store them in the fridge for a few days. Additionally, long-term storage in the fridge is most effective when you understand the cold zones in your fridge, and which vegetables go where. In general, corn and peas should be stored in the front, while most other vegetables should be stored in the humid crisper drawer.
Finally, be sure that root vegetables, such as squash and potatoes, as well as onions and garlic, are kept in a cool, dark pantry. These tips will keep your produce fresher, longer, so that you can enjoy all the fruits of your labor.