You have your share, now what?

You have our share, now what?

You could eat it all at once (not as farfetched a suggestion as that seems), though chances are you want to use it throughout the week, savoring and enjoying all that fresh-picked, naturally grown goodness. Which means caring for your share–storing it properly and efficiently to keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

In the Share Care section, we provide information on ways to keep your vegetables and fruits fresh for the short term and strategies to keep them for the long term. There is a summary of the technique of Freezing for storing crops in Freezing Fruits(general info) and Freezing Vegetables (general info). Links to canning techniques and dehydrating techniques to come (we’re still researching!). If you would like specific information on either fresh keeping or preserving crops visit the Vegetable Care section and/or the Fruit Care section. In each section vegetables and fruits are listed alphabetically in a list fashion. Scroll down to find the crop you are looking for.

Here’s some general guidelines once you get your share home:
1. Vegetables and fruits should be stored apart from each other, in separate crisper drawers, or vegetables in the crisper and fruits in another part of the refrigerator, or vice-versa. As well, keep them apart when storing outside of the refrigerator, in different parts of the kitchen.

Many fruits produce ethylene, a gas that promotes ripening, which can also cause vegetable deterioration. Some ethylene-producing fruits are: apples, apricots, avocados, ripe bananas, ripe kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears and plums. Onions also give off ethylene.

Some vegetables are not affected by ethylene. These include: asparagus, beet root, corn, parsnips, potatoes, summer squash and winter squash.

2. Fresh vegetables remain fresh longest in a moist environment. If the crisper drawer has an humidity control, set it at the higher level. Fruits do best in a drier environment, hence the crisper setting should be at a lower level. Refer to your refrigerator manual for specifics.

3. With the exception of leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables have a natural, protective coating and should not be washed before storage. Washing will hasten deterioration. Note that some of our vegetables are rinsed shortly after harvest to clean off dirt and to cool them down from the summer heat.

Always rinse vegetables and fruits that you will be cutting into or peeling. This will remove surface bacteria that can contaminate the interiors via the knife or peeler.

Try not to soak vegetables for too long when preparing, for eating or storage. The longer they are in the water the more they will lose water-soluble nutrients. Briefly holding the vegetables and fruits under running water minimizes this risk.

4. Most vegetables and fruits can be stored in plastic bags. It’s best to use perforated bags. These bags allow the produce to respire properly, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. They also help keep water loss at low levels. Perforated bags can be purchased, or simply make 20 or so pin pricks in the plastic bags you have on hand.

If you don’t want to use plastic bags, you can simply put the vegetables in their natural state (minus the elastic bands and roots separated from their greens) in the refrigerator, but these should be consumed or prepared as soon as possible.

Some produce, such as eggplant, keep best in paper bags. Apples are best stored unwrapped. See individual listings for storage recommendations.

5. Leafy greens, especially lettuces, keep best when washed and dried before storage. Dry in a salad spinner or with kitchen or paper towels. Store in perforated bags, either wrapped in a kitchen or paper towels, or with either in the bottom of the bag to absorb moisture. The added benefit of this procedure is that the greens are ready to eat! If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this, at least store in perforated bags.

6. Always remove the rubber bands from greens before storing. Snip them or gently pull them off.

7. Roots with greens attached should be separated before storage. If left attached, the greens will continue to draw moisture from the roots, speeding up the deterioration of the roots. These greens are edible (though carrot tops can be an acquired taste). See our recipe blog for ideas on preparing these, and all of our greens.

8. When storing vegetables and fruits on the counter top, keep them out of direct sunlight. Length of storage time will depend on the ambient room temperature.

9. Refrigerators should be kept between 34°F and 40°F, optimally at 37°F. A refrigerator thermometer is a good tool to have in your fridge to monitor temperature and to check the temperature in various parts of the refrigerator. In general, the front and back of the top shelf are the coldest parts of the refrigerator. The back parts of the middle and bottom shelves are next coldest. The front part of the middle shelf is warmer, while the front part of the bottom shelf is the warmest part of the refrigerator. The door shelves tend to be warmer, although the bottom door shelf is usually quite cold. Each refrigerator is different; adjust the refrigerator storage recommendations to your appliance.