Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Storing and Prepping Produce For Maximum Deliciousness

As part of my strategy for meal plans, I process incoming produce about twice a week to make meals and snacking easier for the next few days.

When I bring home my farm share, or when I bring home produce from the grocery store, I divide it into "store" and "prep." I will usually prep about half of something and store the rest. I do this with all incoming produce so that I always have a variety of fruit and veg ready for meals and snacks - it's only the prep and storage method that varies from item to item. For instance, when my farm share gives me four bell peppers, I wash and slice two of them immediately and put the slices in snapware. I wipe off the other two bell peppers and put them in a plastic bag with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture to await their fate for a few days.

This picture shows before and after prep for carrots, green beans, cucumber, bell peppers, melon and grape tomatoes.* Notice that in the before picture, the green beans and cucumber have been stored in plastic bags with paper towels for a while already. Now they are getting prepped along with some of the incoming produce from the farm share and the grocery store. Here's how:

Bell peppers: wash, dry, slice. Store in airtight container for up to 4 days.

Carrots: peel, chop off ends, submerge in water. Return to fridge. Good for at least 5 days. Replace water if it begins to be opaque.

Cucumber: peel, chop, store in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Grape tomatoes: Wash, allow to air dry on towel. Store in open bowl in fridge up to 4 days.

Green beans: wash, snap off ends, allow to air dry. Store in airtight-ish container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Melon: Cube. Store in airtight container in fridge for  up to 3 or 4 days., depending on how ripe it was when you cubed it.

Note: I only use clear or open storage because otherwise I forget what I have. Having clear storage also allows me to see condensation build up in produce storage. Sometimes I open up a snapware container, shake the top over the sink and just put it back on. This helps keep the veg inside from getting mushy after it's prepped but before I want to use it.

*Discerning readers will be able to deduce that this picture is from a while ago since I was buying tomatoes from a store. Now it is tomato season and my farmshare is overflowing with them.

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