Keeping Produce and Cheese Fresh

It’s probably obvious why I’ve been researching how to make fresh food last as long as possible (not including freezing, pickling, cooking, etc.). In an effort to go grocery shopping just once every two weeks, I’ve discovered my Achilles heel in my desire for fresh produce. Below are the methods I’ve found so far for some fresh food that I recently bought.

Keep produce fresh
Keep produce fresh

How to store cucumbers as long as possible

I found conflicting opinions. Epicurious says to clean, dry, and wrap them in a dry paper towel, tucked inside a plastic bag. However, begs to differ. Its writer says to keep them on your counter at room temperature, away from ethylene-gas-producing foods like banana, melons, tomatoes (which cause other foods to ripen/spoil faster).

Well, I’ve already tried the Epicurious method and it has never gotten me past a few days, so next time, I’m going to try the counter top method.

How to store leafy greens / salads as long as possible

I reviewed a bunch of expert-sounding sites, including another nice write-up in that actually compared 3 different methods. The overwhelmingly best method seems to be: wash, dry, and then store in layers of paper towels in a plastic container (not a plastic bag!) According to confident practitioners of this method, produce stored this way can last from 10 days to 1 month! Fantastic! Except I don’t currently have any plastic containers that would suit this purpose. . .

How to store tomatoes as long as possible

I used to toss tomatoes directly in the fridge. Well, now I know better. If they’re ripe and you’re not going to eat them right away, put them in the fridge.

If they’re not fully ripe, leave them on the counter at room temperature until they have become fully ripe. To allow them to ripen properly, and a number of other reliable-sounding websites, says you should either place them stem side down or place a piece of tape over the stem “scar” to prevent moisture from leaving the tomato (drying it out) and keep air from entering which creates mold.

How to store broccoli as long as possible

We find our broccoli to go bad within a couple of days, so I can tell you for sure how NOT to store it: Don’t leave it in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper. We get terrible results from this. Listonic and Wikihow offered two different options to try: 1) Wrap it loosely in a damp paper towel and it may last 4-5 days. 2) Store the broccoli like a bouquet in a bowl/jar of water, stem side down and it could last 5-7 days.

How to store zucchinis as long as possible

Storing zucchinis didn’t seem to be as interesting for the internet as tomatoes. The general consensus seems to be to avoid putting zucchinis in the fridge if possible because the cold ages the zucchini. If you do put it in the fridge, then put it in a plastic bag (partially open or perforated to slow down the oxidation process).

If you do leave it at room temperature in the open air, the zucchini will shrivel in about 2-3 days. Instead, it is recommended that you put it in a plastic bag, again with holes on the countertop. I’m not sure about this recommendation, as I have personally have found zucchinis to last at least one week unwrapped on the countertop.

How to store cheese as long as possible

Yeah, I know this isn’t produce, but I’m having a problem with this one, too, so I figured I’d just add it here until it finds a better home. The answer seems to be to wrap cheese in wax or parchment paper and then place in a plastic bag. There’s such a thing as a cheese bag which apparently works best, but I don’t own one and chances are, you don’t either. If the cheese sweats a lot, then you’re supposed to replace the paper each time you take the cheese out.

I’ll keep this post updated as I look up other veggies and storage methods. What suggestions do you have for making produce last? I’m all ears!