Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How To Store Fruits & Vegetables


Hello Readers~ 

Happy middle of the week! Usually we will have our Real People Wednesday Series on Wednesdays. As we have just recently started this blog it has taken us a little while to figure out a good system of doing the interviews. Thank you so much for being patient with us in this process. We are excited about this series and already have a lot of fun and informative interviews in the works that I'm sure will be a highlight of this blog. In the meantime, you can read Laura's interview here and my interview here. They're not exhaustive as to who we are, but they do give short glimpses into our life and passions. As for today, I'll continue on with a post about this week's topic. So, this week is about fruits and veggies! Like I said yesterday, I have often heard from so many people that they want to know how to shop and eat organically on a budget and that they also want to know how to best store fruits and vegetables so they don't go bad as fast and last longer. Like I said yesterday, I get it. I've often wondered the same thing. It takes a lot of thought to even sift through and then come to a decision to spend the money to eat healthy. Then once you do make that decision and you spend money on produce, the last thing you want to see is it with brown spots or mold all over the sometimes pricey food you just labored over. At times, I've felt such guilt when that happens! In times past I would think about the money I wasted by not using it fast enough and I would sort of kick myself for how I could have allowed that to happen. There's so much in life that we can be prone and tempted to feel guilt over, which I try hard to distance myself from as much as possible, but something as small as fruits and vegetables should not be one of those things. I realize though it's not a great feeling when you've spent a lot of money on produce only to find it's gone bad before you can even use it. We all want to be responsible and it feels good when you find ways to pinch pennies and use your money wisely. So, it was something I wanted to remedy and find some easy solutions for. I've had a lot of trial and error and have probably even had more error in figuring out ways to best store things, but  I've found a few tricks along the way that really help me feel good about not wasting money and utilizing fruits and vegetables in the best ways possible. These tricks also make the produce last a while! I hardly ever throw out old or molded produce when I take a few extra minutes to do these steps below. Now people even joke with me that I rarely waste anything and that I find a way to use every last drop of the produce, stems and all. Finding ways to use every part a vegetable and utilizing produce to it's fullest is a post for another day though! Today I want to give you the few simple tricks for how to make them last the longest. Although I still have some mistakes, it definitely feels good to have a few tricks that I can rely on to make me feel confident that I'm not wasting money and using our money wisely.

How To Store Fruits & Vegetables- 

I know a lot of you won't be surprised at all that mason jars are a big part of this. I've already said many times that I love those things. I've even written a post about it and how they help me drink more water during the day, which we know is probably the number one thing that's crucial for our health. I have come to really love mason jars in so many ways. As I said in my post about them, I like the wide mouth jars the best. They have become essential in how I store produce to make it last the longest. I find this is the easiest and saves the most amount of time during the week. It also makes it great for grabbing fruit and vegetables out of the fridge to take on the run and also for throwing in the car for traveling-- can you tell I've been on the go a lot recently? Below are a few different ways I use them for various fruits and vegetables. Make sure to scroll down to read about how I store parsley and cilantro, as those aren't as self-explanatory.

Berries

Summer is coming-- finally! Berries are about to be in full blown season. As I mentioned earlier, it's best and cheapest to buy in season. It's the way our body and the world was created-- to follow that rhythm.  We are finally entering berry season and I can't wait! As great as berries are, if you buy them in those little plastic square flimsy containers they come in at the grocery store or even sometimes at farmer's markets they usually only last at most 3 days before they start getting moldy. I know when I buy fresh berries I have all of these hopes for how I'm going to use them and what memories we will make eating them-- summer picnic blankets strewn wine, macerated strawberries with balsamic vinegar and basil. It's so exciting to carry some of those beauties home; yet, it's equally as sad when you find they are rotten before your hopes of wonderful memories were able to happen. Am I the only one that has felt this way before?? Hah. Food is just beautiful to me and a unique catalyst for sweet times with loved ones, and I hate wasting it. The best way I have found to store gorgeous little berries is to wash them thoroughly as soon as you bring them home. That is the first step and also key. I usually first start by rinsing. After I rinse them, I fill a bowl with filtered water and let them sit in there for a little while (maybe 2-5 minutes?) to get all of the extra dirt out of their crevices,  and I rinse again. Then I dry them until they are fully dry and pop them in the mason jars to go into the fridge until I need them. They usually last for a while in there. I honestly have never even had them start to rot while having them in those jars. (I also do this with peaches, pears, and mangoes-- just about most fruits, really).

Vegetables: 


I do vegetables pretty much the same as I do the berries, except I'm not usually as meticulous about washing the vegetables. With vegetables I just give one good rinse, unless they're really dirty. Usually I wash then cut in the shape and length I want (so I can just easily grab them throughout the week) and then I dry them off and put them in the jars. As I said, this works great for being on the go. When I do this at the beginning of the week, during the week I can grab a small jar of carrots when I'm running out of the house and Ben can grab a jar of vegetables to take to work with him. It saves a lot of time during the week and it also stores them forever it seems.
*One vegetable I have found an alternative trick with is celery. If you leave the celery in the plastic bag it came in, the celery can get squishy and it doesn't stay firm and crunchy. I'm not sure where I read this, but the best way to store it is in aluminum foil. Just take the celery out of the plastic bag and wrap it in foil (if you don't like your food to touch foil you can first wrap it in parchment first then foil) and then leave in the fridge until needed. It will stay crisp for you for a while.  



Herbs (Parsley & Cilantro): 


I start the same way as with fruits and veggies-- I wash the herbs and dry them fully. After they are dry I put them standing upright in a mason jar filled with water. The mason jar kind of acts as a vase for the cilantro and parsley. I've tried just leaving the herbs like that, but for some reason that doesn't keep the herbs from drying out nor that brown kind of molding. You have to take the next step in order to ensure proper storage. Use one of those plastic bags you find at the grocery to bag your fruits and vegetables. If you shop at the Farmer's Market like Laura mentioned Monday and I talk about often then you won't have those little baggies. However, you can just stock up for times like these though. What you do is put the bag around the herbs as seen below. After you do that, put a rubber band around the bag securing it over the jar.








My husband Ben says to go from the bottom of the jar when you go to put the rubber band around it. It's easier than trying to stretch the rubber band over the top of the bag and then getting it around the jar.



Yes, you do have to take off the bag every time you want cilantro or parsley. However you don't usually want these things for snacking during the day. You would usually use these for a recipe and then save it up for the next recipe. So, it's not that time consuming at all. 





Well, readers, I hope you enjoyed this week's series! Be sure to check back tomorrow for a recipe or two. I can't wait to hear about how all of you have found tricks of your own. Laura and I will be sure to let you know if we come across more that prove to be helpful and practical in daily living. 
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