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  • Candice Mak

How to preserve overbought vegetables

How to Preserve Vegetables to Keep them Fresh

Advice for the general public on COVID-19 nutrition

Many dietitians offer services virtually and they are covered by most employee health benefit plans. Find a dietitian here.

preserving vegetables the right way will keep them fresh and safe to eat. Some vegetables and fruit need to be stored in the refrigerator, others need to ripen before being placed in the refrigerator, and others are best stored at room temperature or in a cool dry place. Find out more about how your favourite vegetables should be stored.

preserving leafy greens to keep them fresh

Leafy greens stay fresh longer if they’re rinsed, wrapped in a paper towel or tea towel, and refrigerated in a container or sealed plastic bag. You can do this with lettuce greens, bok choy, Swiss chard, kale and spinach.

Time saving tip – Washing and preserving leafy greens as soon as you bring them home will make them more convenient to eat.

Note: Even if you buy prewashed greens it is a good idea to rinse them again when you get home.

preserving asparagus to keep them fresh

Asparagus should be stored in the fridge. Keep the stalks moist by wrapping them with a damp paper towel or store the stalks upright in a bowl or glass of cold water.

preserving squash and root vegetables to keep them fresh

Squash and root vegetables should be stored in a cool, dark, dry spot outside the fridge like a cupboard or root cellar. You can also store garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins and rutabaga this way.

preserving tomatoes to keep them fresh

For the best-tasting tomatoes, store them at room temperature away from direct sunlight. This will help them ripen evenly. Once they are ripe they can be placed in the fridge.

Storage times are different for each type of vegetable

The guidelines below are for vegetables at their best quality. They still may be safe to eat after the stated times as long as they are not mouldy or rotten.

Most vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and celery should be stored in a plastic bag or container in the crisper of your fridge. Mushrooms are best stored in a paper bag. Vegetables should be stored in a different part of the fridge than fruit. This will prevent them from ripening too fast.

How long can I store canned vegetables?

Canned vegetables can be kept for 1-2 years. Label the can with the date to help you keep track of how long it has been in your cupboard.

Some canned vegetables will have a “use by” date. This is how long the food will be at its best quality as decided by the manufacturer. Cans that are not damaged and have been stored properly will still be safe to eat after this date.

1. Preserve Your Food by Drying or Dehydrating

Drying fruits and vegetables means removing the water from the produce. Bacteria needs water to survive, so the drying process helps prevent the food from going bad. When the water is removed, the food will become smaller and lighter in weight. You can eat dried foods directly, or you can add water and watch the food return to its original shape.

The drying process can be done most efficiently in two ways — with a dehydrator or with an oven. A dehydrator is your most dependable option because all you have to do is load the machine with your food, select the appropriate setting, and wait for your finished product. You can even get solar dehydrators if you want to add an even greener touch to the drying process.

An oven can also serve as a dehydrator when used right, but it takes about twice as long as a dedicated dehydrator. Simply preheat your oven to 140 degrees, slice your fruit or vegetables thinly, and soak them in a solution of equal parts lemon juice and water. After 10 minutes, line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the slices onto it. Place the pan in the oven for between six and ten hours — you’ll know it’s done when the slices are pliable and have a leathery texture.

2. Preserve Your Favorite Fruits and Vegetables by Canning Them

When you can something, foods are placed in jars or cans and heated to a temperature that kills microorganisms and breaks down enzymes. The heating and cooling process also forms a vacuum seal.

To can your fruits and vegetables at home, sterilize the equipment in simmering water for a few minutes before filling them with things like jams, fruits, and sauces. After filling, place the lid on and lower the jars into a pot full of water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil for at least 10 minutes. When the time is up, carefully remove the jars to cool. Once the jars cool, the lids should seal and become concave. You’ll start hearing the lids pop as they hit just the right temperature and seal.

Canned foods should be eaten within about a year of canning.


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