Top Tips for Veggie Storage

A top question we’re asked is not how to cook an item but how to store it for maximum freshness. Here, we offer our top tips for keeping your spring vegetable purchases in fresh condition.

The Elmwood Stock Farm online store is seeing an influx of veggies now that we’re progressing into warmer—and wetter—weather. Leafy greens are in abundance at the moment, and we’re hopeful to have radishes, hakurei turnips and beets available online soon, plus napa cabbage, sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, fennel and garlic scapes. It’s important to pay attention to the online store this time of year, as veggies start appearing quickly!

A top question we’re asked is not how to cook an item but how to store it for maximum freshness. Here, we offer our top tips for keeping your spring vegetable purchases in fresh condition: 

Leafy greens. These include lettuce/salad mix, spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, Swiss chard, mizuna and arugula. Once you get those greens home from the farmers market or your on-farm pickup, refrigerate them! Leave greens in the bags in which you received them, which are perforated and give them the right amount of breathing room.

You can chop and rinse your leafy greens ahead of time so they’re easy to grab and go when needed.

Asian greens. Bok choy, tatsoi and napa cabbage are popular Asian greens around here. They store similarly to leafy greens but are a bit more sturdy. They still prefer to be kept in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Napa cabbage may last for several weeks—so don’t be afraid to purchase a larger head—and bok choy and tatsoi should keep for a week or more.

Rinse your Asian greens just before using.

Root vegetables. The salad radishes, hakurei turnips and beets you’ll find this time of year often arrive with their greens intact. Be sure to remove the greens from the roots when you get them home. The greens transpire, essentially exhaling moisture from the roots, which makes the roots soft. Remove the greens, store the greens and roots separately, and both will last for much longer. Definitely save those greens, and cook them like you would any other leafy green.

If you do find yourself with soft root veggies or limp-looking greens, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. They’ll rehydrate themselves and be as crisp as new.

Scrub root vegetables—and peel, if you want, though we usually don’t—and rinse greens before using.

Garlic. In the online store, you’ll find several types of garlic currently and more coming up soon. Garlic is a crop that we plant in the fall and harvest in the spring through early summer.

For several weeks now, we have been offering green garlic, which is the whole garlic stalk before the bulbs are fully formed. Any minute now, you’ll find garlic scapes in the online store. These look like alien tentacles but are actually the flower shoots from the garlic plants. The entirety of both green garlic and garlic scapes can be used in place of garlic or green onions. Store these items in a plastic bag or other closed container in the fridge. They’ll last for a few weeks, but if you cook like we do, you’ll go through them faster.

Garlic bulbs are also available. These bulbs are small but tasty. This cured garlic should be stored on the counter or in your pantry, never in the fridge. You can always tell the difference between fresh garlic and cured garlic because cured garlic has the papery white skin on it, and the skin hasn’t yet formed on fresh garlic.

Fresh garlic will be harvested in a few weeks and may be available online then.

Cured garlic and fresh garlic do not need to be washed—they have their own natural covering—but give garlic scapes and green garlic a good rinse.

Sugar Snap Peas. We think you’ll eat your peas fast enough that you don’t actually need storage tips, but if you find yourself with peas a few days ahead of when you plan to eat them, keep them in a sealed container in the fridge. Don’t wash or string them until you’re ready to eat.

Kohlrabi. This is one vegetable you probably won’t find in a typical grocery store, but it is a favorite on diversified vegetable farms! Kohlrabi looks like a root veggie but actually grows above the ground on a small but sturdy taproot. Like root vegetables, it has greens that should be removed and stored separately, both in plastic bags in the fridge. The greens are just as delicious as the bulb, so make use of them both.

Fennel. Here’s another vegetable that could be confused for a root vegetable, for its stocky veggie core. Fennel grows above ground. The bulb and the greens can remain intact in a plastic bag in the fridge until you’re ready to rinse and eat it.

As spring moves into summer and a new host of vegetables start arriving in the online store, we’ll take another look at their storage needs. Keep watch, as it won’t be long before the first ripe tomato makes its appearance.

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