By Contributing Author Sharon A. See
It’s no secret that I am a farmers’ market fan. For one thing, you just can’t beat the convenience of having all those fresh fruits and veggies all in one place. But, I overdo it sometimes. I can get carried away and come home with enough food to feed us and the neighbors.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I certainly didn’t invent food storage, but through my own necessity I’ve come up with what I think are some really great strategies for preventing spoilage while promoting healthy eating in our home.
I’ve been told that concern over how to keep fresh fruits and vegetables from spoiling is a reason why some people don’t shop at farmers markets as often as they’d like. I get that. Tossing away spoiled produce is a real waste of money.
So, in this blog I’m going to share with you some really quick and simple ways to keep your farmers market produce fresher longer.
For me, it’s all about getting it done quickly. Also, I try and keep in mind preparing ahead for the busy work week. No time to be cleaning and prepping veggies after work when we’re trying to get dinner on the table.
It’s also a healthier habit to have everything cleaned and prepped ahead of time. Think about it. When you’re hungry and looking for something to eat, what do you go for first? The quickest most convenient thing you can get your hands on, right? Why not make sure that it is something healthy?
This is why I carve out time either right when I get home from the market or first thing on Saturday morning. I clean, wash and prep everything I can before it goes into the fridge.
Here’s how I do it.
First, you’ll need some supplies; a washing basin, white vinegar, salad spinner, paper towels, and the secret weapon, Debbie Meyer Green Bags. These bags are made with a natural mineral that helps to keep produce from spoiling. They are amazing and can keep produce fresh for up to two weeks. You can find them online or at local stores.
Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach and chard get a white vinegar and cold water bath. These greens tend to grow in sandy soil and you’ll need to cut the ends off and submerge them in a basin full of water to get the sand out of them. Rinse until the water is clean and run them through the salad spinner.
Separate into meal size servings and wrap in a clean paper towel. This allows you to grab only what you need for one meal when you’re short on time. You can store the separately wrapped servings all together in the same bag and keep them in the fridge.
Berries can spoil quickly. Remove them immediately from the container or bag you bought them in. Wash them in a cold water vinegar bath and rinse well. Make sure they are completely dry before you store them to prevent mold. Bigger berries like strawberries you can lay out on baking racks. Smaller berries like blueberries spread out on a paper towel until they are dry.
There are conflicting opinions on storing berries in the fridge. Some say yes, some say no. I keep some in the fridge and some in a bowl on the counter based on how long it will be before we use them. But here’s the thing, in our house the ones that are out on the counter go a lot quicker and are less likely to be forgotten about. Berries are a healthy grab-n-go snack and are a much better choice than chips or junk food.
Vegetables & Potatoes
Vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and potatoes get cleaned right away too. Another cold water bath with vinegar, dry thoroughly, and into a green bag before storing in the fridge. Keep the onions and potatoes out of the fridge. They should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place, but not together. Onions and potatoes give off gasses that cause the other to spoil faster.
You’ll want to do the same with fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, apples and pears. Wash in a cold water and vinegar bath, rinse with clean water, dry completely, and store. Often I will leave these fruits out in a fruit bowl for a quick grab-n-go snack. But, if you’re family doesn’t eat them quickly like we do, store in a green bag and keep in the fridge. But remember, just like the berries, if you keep these fruits visible and ready to go, they’ll be the snack of choice instead of candy or chips.
As you can see this post is about more than simply cleaning fruits and vegetables. It’s really about making it easy and convenient for you and your family to have healthy food choices at the ready. The more healthy habits like this you can adopt, the easier it is to maintain good health.
Here’s a cool and healthy summer recipe that uses some of your farmers market goodies.
Cold Cucumber & Spinach Soup
In a blender, combine lemon juice and spinach. Pulse to combine. Add cucumber and puree until smooth. Scoop avocado into blender and continue to puree until mixture is very smooth. Season with salt to taste. Chill. Serve with dill, radish and parsley as garnish.
About Sharon A. See
I hope you are enjoying my articles. If you’d like some customized strategies and support with healthy eating for you and your family, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help!
If you have farmer’s market or healthy eating questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like to hear more about, please let me know. See below to contact me.
Sharon A. See
Certified Holistic Health Coach
You can contact me and find other interesting articles, resources, and recipes on my website at www.vitalizedwellness.com.
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The Monroe Farmers' Market is open June–October and offers fresh, locally-grown produce, baked goods, prepared foods and hand-crafted specialty foods to Connecticut locals.