While we most often celebrate the bounty of produce that is summer, there are also plenty of fall and winter fruits and vegetables to love. Once warm-weather favorites like peaches, tomatoes, and corn are on the way out, we’re greeted with a colorful array of pears, apples, winter squash, and greens, as well. than the citrus fruits that populate many gift baskets.
Aside from being delicious and versatile, fall fruits and vegetables have at least one other benefit – in general, they last longer than their spring and summer counterparts. This assumes that you are storing them correctly. “People just forget they have this stuff,” says Cindy Tong, professor and post-harvest horticulturalist at the University of Minnesota. “Don’t let him get lost.”
Here are tips for taking care of some specific types of products that you will get in cooler weather.
Winter squash. It does best in a cool, dark, dry place that allows good air circulation. Tong recommends a kitchen cabinet or basement, as long as it’s not near the radiator. In the refrigerator, the squash will start to pitted due to the cold, so keep it only when cut. Properly stored, squash can be stored for at least a month or two, with thinner-skinned varieties like acorn that don’t last as long as thicker ones like Hubbard. As Abra Berens points out in “Ruffage,” acorn and delicate squash are actually dried summer squash like winter squash, which is why they don’t have the same extended shelf life.
Apples and pears. Apples can go straight to the fridge, ideally in the crisper with the vent open or in a low humidity fruit bin, where they will keep for four to six weeks. If you plan to eat them within a week, Tong says, the counter is fine, but much longer than that and the fruit will become mealy and tasteless. Apples produce ethylene, which can trigger ripening and possibly rotting in some other produce, which is why it is often advisable to separate them from many other fruits and vegetables. (If you’re trying to speed up ripening on your bananas or avocados, go for it.) In the refrigerator, however, ethylene production is minimal, Tong says, so don’t go too far on isolating them. Pears, with the exception of Asian varieties, do not ripen on the tree, so you usually have to rip them on the counter. Once they apply gentle pressure around the neck, place them in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. Emily Zaas from Black Rock Orchard in Maryland told me that if you are trying to stagger the ripening of your pears, you can place the unripe fruit in the fridge and then remove it to ripen at room temperature when you are ready. .
[Ten fruits and vegetables you’re storing wrong]
Rustic greens. Cool and moist, but not soggy, is the best environment for green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard. Store them in a plastic bag, wrapped in a damp paper towel if desired, in the crisper of the refrigerator which is more humid (without vents or with the vents closed). You can achieve a similar effect with a greener alternative, such as Vejibags. As Kristen Hartke explained here, these are “organic cotton bags that you lightly moisten and then fill with produce to keep in the refrigerator’s crisper bins; Simply re-moisten the bag whenever it starts to dry out, and the hardwood products inside will stay fresh for weeks. Just keep in mind that too much moisture can contribute to rot. Otherwise, expect sturdy greens to last around two weeks in the fridge, although it’s always best to use them as soon as possible. Hartke says you can extend the shelf life of products, especially green vegetables, by slipping on a sheet of FreshPaper, which contains spices and herbs that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. Berens says you can also place them in a vase of water on the counter. If you have sturdy greens that come from roots such as beets or turnips, they can be preserved like other hardy greens.
[How to break your plastic, foil and paper addiction in the kitchen]
Other crucifers. Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts need a cool, humid environment, but packing them in an airtight bag or container can promote mold growth. Store them in a partially open, loose, or perforated plastic bag or something more breathable, like a grocery bag or Vejibag, also in the high humidity drawer. If you prefer your produce to be in bulk, a FreshPaper in the trash can help produce last longer (same as root vegetables, below). Recommended storage times vary widely, from a few days to a few weeks. The University of New Hampshire extension says Brussels sprouts left on the stems will outlast loose sprouts. The stems can be placed in the water, from which you break the sprouts as and when you need them. The flavor of Brussels sprouts will become stronger the more they are stored.
Root vegetables. They “store for a long time,” Tong says. Make sure they stick with this by separating any green vegetables attached to roots such as beets, carrots, and turnips as soon as you bring them home, leaving about 1/2 inch on top of the vegetables. (Leaving the top whole will suck moisture from the vegetables.) To prevent moisture loss, refrigerate beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas in plastic bags in the high humidity crisper or in a Vejibag or similar product. They will last at least two weeks.
[How to store peaches, corn, melons and more summer produce]
Potatoes. Keeping them in a dark place will help prevent them from turning green. Aim for a cool, well-ventilated space, such as a basement, root cellar, or closet. In the refrigerator, moist air can promote the conversion of starches to sugars, which is often not desirable for texture, flavor or color (i.e. French fries will become very dark). Tong, however, tends to flout this advice, especially when it comes to the potatoes she grows, as she doesn’t mind a sweeter flavor (in soups it doesn’t really matter. for her) and likes the refrigerator to prevent germination. Outside the refrigerator, prevent sprouting by separating potatoes from ethylene producers such as apples and onions. Depending on the conditions, the potatoes in the pantry will last from a few weeks to two months. When it comes to sweet potatoes, my colleague Aaron Hutcherson notes that they store best in a cool, dark place at around 50 degrees, where they keep for three to six months. Few of us have that kind of space, so store it at room temperature in a dark space and use it in a week or two. (Sweet potatoes in a refrigerator can dry out and develop an unpleasant flavor.)
Citrus. It usually keeps well in the refrigerator. Oranges and grapefruits can be left loose or in a breathable bag, such as a mesh, to allow air circulation, although storage in the high humidity drawer is useful to prevent moisture loss. . Expect them to last a month or two. As Cook’s Illustrated discovered, lemons can also be left loose in the fridge, although they start to lose moisture after about a week. A zippered plastic bag (reuse reuse reuse!) Kept them intact for a month. The files will last a week or two. For shorter storage, no more than a week at room temperature for citrus is acceptable, especially in the case of limes, which tend to be less fond of cooler temperatures, Tong says. After that, the fruit will start to harden. Her strategy for making sure lemons and limes don’t go to waste is to zest and squeeze them, then store them in the freezer until needed.