Easy prep and storage tips for your organic produce

 

Apples
Refrigerated apples last up to 10 times longer than those at room temperature. Apples emit ethylene, a naturally occurring gas that speeds ripening. To prevent apples from speeding up the ripening process of other items, store them in a plastic bag. To speed the ripening of bananas, place an apple in a bag of green bananas. Eat apples at room temperature.

Avocados
Keep unripe avocados at room temperature. To speed ripening, place in a paper bag with an apple or banana; to stop ripening, refrigerate for up to two days. Once cut, the flesh will brown rapidly. To prevent discoloration, sprinkle cut avocado with lemon or lime juice; if mashed (as in guacamole), press plastic wrap directly onto the surface.

Berries
Berries are best stored in the front of the fridge, where temperatures are a bit higher. A trick for berries is to wash them in a bowl of 3c water to 1c white vinegar, drain, and then rinse. Dry the berries in salad spinner lined with paper towels, for about 15 seconds. Make sure they are completely dry! You are can store in the original container, but make sure the berry container is lined with paper towels.


Grapefruit

Grapefruit is ripe when picked and will not ripen further once off the tree. Grapefruit will last for several days if stored at room temperature. Otherwise refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the high humidity crisper section of the refrigerator where it will keep for several weeks

Kiwifruit
can be ripened at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. You can speed up the ripening process by putting kiwifruit in a paper bag with an apple, banana, tomato, or pear, all of which give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process. Ripe kiwifruit should keep in a refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Lemons
Lemons will keep on the counter at room temperature for a maximum of two weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity, and will keep in the refrigerator in plastic bags for up to six weeks. If you have extra lemons, squeeze and freeze the juice in ice trays and transfer cubes to plastic bags for long-term storage.

Mangoes
Store mangoes at room temperature and out of the sun, until ripened. The ideal storage temperature for mangos is 55 degrees F. When stored properly a mango should have a shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks. While the mango will not ripen in the refrigerator, it can be kept chilled there once ripe. Store cut mangos in a plastic bag for no more than 3 days.

Oranges
Oranges are best stored in a cool place outside the refrigerator and eaten within a few days. If you need to keep them longer, refrigerate in a plastic bag or in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator. As Valencia oranges ripen on the tree they will first turn a yellow-orange color and then regain a little green tinge near the stem end of the fruit, resulting from chlorophyll returning to the peel. This “regreening” of the orange is not a sign of immaturity or considered a blemish on the skin.

Pears
Ripen Bosc pears in a paper bag with an apple or a banana to speed the process. Bosc pears will have a sweet fragrance and yield to a gentle touch near the stem when ripe. Check pears in the bag daily and eat once they fit this description. You can refrigerate ripe Bosc pears up to 3 days.

Peaches
Peaches, once ripe, should be eaten right away for the best flavor and taste! You can choose to store ripe peaches in your crisper drawer for 3-5 days.

Persimmons
Try not to buy more than you can eat in a short amount of time, as ripe persimmons can only be kept for up to three days. During that time, they should be refrigerated in a plastic bag – interestingly, the cold actually sweetens the fruit. To ripen a persimmon, place it in a pierced paper bag with an apple and keep it at room temperature.

Plums
Store at room temperature (between 51°F and 77°F) until fully ripened and ready to eat. To accelerate the ripening process place the plums in a paper bag along with a ethylene producing fruit such as a banana, apple or pear. Plums are ripe when they give off a sweet plum aroma and are soft to the touch. Once ripened, store the plums in the refrigerator until eaten but keep them away from ethylene producing fruit so they do not become over ripe.

Ripe Strawberries
Don’t keep well but can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. This berry also bruises very easily, so handle them gently. Quickly toss in a bowl of cold water before serving (do not soak!)

Summer Fruits
Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums continue to ripen at room temperature after they are picked. To speed their ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag or ripening bowl at room temperature.

Vegetables

Acorn Squash
Winter squash or hard-shelled squash, such as kabocha and butternut, should not be refrigerated unless cut. Stored at 50°F to 55°F away from light in a well ventilated spot with low humidity, it will keep for up to three months. Cut squash will keep about one week when wrapped tightly and refrigerated.

Arugula
Best used fresh, but you can keep arugula for a few days in the refrigerator. Wash arugula, let it dry (use a colander or spinner). Place in a plastic bag and into the crisper drawer in the fridge. Sometime a paper towel in the bag helps to keep excess moisture to a minimum as well.

Asparagus
To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag.

Beets
To store beets, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root as soon as you get them home. The leaves will sap the moisture from the beet root. Do not trim the tail. Store the leaves in a separate plastic bag and use within two days. The root bulbs should also be bagged and can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer 7 to 10 days.

Beet Greens
Wash greens thoroughly in cold water and drain well. Refrigerate them in the vegetable crisper or in plastic bags or containers to prevent wilting and loss of nutrients. Use within 3 to 5 days.

Bell Peppers
Bell peppers like cool not cold temperatures, ideally about 45°F to 50°F with good humidity. Peppers are ethylene sensitive, so they should not be stored near ethylene-producing food such as pears or apples. Put peppers in plastic bags and they will keep up to five days in the refrigerator. Green peppers will keep slightly longer than the other, more ripe, varieties.


Bok Choy
(Brassica rapa var. chinensis)

 Wrap bok choy in a damp towel, or put in a plastic bag and place in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator. Store for up to one week. Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if allowed to dry out.

 

Broccoli
Broccoli can be stored in the high-humidity vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to three days.

Butternut Squash
When stored in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated area, winter squash will keep for a month or more. The only time squash should be refrigerated is after it has been cut and wrapped in plastic.

Cabbage
Cabbage stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s humid vegetable bin will last at least a week.

Carrots
Before storing them remove their green tops, rinse, drain, and put the carrots in plastic bags and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator with the highest humidity. They’ll last several months this way. To keep the carrots crisp and colorful add a little bit of water in the bottom of the plastic storage bag; this will keep the carrots hydrated. Carrots should be stored away from fruits such as apples and pears, which release the ethylene gas that cause carrots to become bitter.

Celeriac
Celeriac can be kept refrigerated in a perforated plastic bag for up to 10 days. It cannot be frozen.

Corn
Corn is best eaten immediately. However, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days in plastic bags with the husk still on.  If possible, store in a refrigerator with a high humidity storage bin. If the corn has already been husked, partially or fully, refrigerate it in a perforated plastic bag.

Cucumbers
Should be stored in a plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator at a temperature between 45°F and 50°F for up to a week. Be sure not to wash cucumbers until you’re ready to use them.

Eggplants and Mature Onions
Best kept moderately cool, about 50-59 degrees.

Garlic
Stored under optimum conditions in a dark, cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation, garlic will last from several weeks to one year. Try to use fresh garlic within a few weeks and do not refrigerate unless the garlic has been peeled or chopped.

Green Beans
Wash to add moisture and refrigerate in a plastic bag. Remove the tips (and strings, if present) right before cooking.

Fresh Greens
Greens should always be washed thoroughly in lukewarm water to remove dirt that could stick to leaves. They can be wrapped in a damp paper towel, placed in plastic and stored in the refrigerator. If the towel is kept moist, they can keep for up to a week.

Green Bell Peppers
Store bell peppers 3-4 days in a plastic bag, refrigerated. Avoid getting bell peppers wet, especially in the stem area. They decay faster when exposed to moisture. Green bells will last longer than yellow or red peppers.

Lacinato Kale
Kale should be wrapped in a damp towel or in a plastic bag and refrigerated, preferably in hydrator drawer, for up to 1 week. Leaves will wilt if allowed to dry out. Plunge in cold water for 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Kale also freezes well, just blanche, squeeze out excess water and put into Ziploc and freeze.

Leeks are often used to flavor casseroles and soups/stews, with a subtle and sweet flavor. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Wrap leeks in plastic wrap to help prevent their aroma being absorbed by other foods. They can last up to seven days. If cooked, eat within 2 days of storage.

Lettuce and Salad Greens
Greens will expire quickly if not stored properly. Greens like moisture and cool temperatures, so store lettuce in perforated plastic bags wrapped in damp paper towels, and keep in the refrigerator vegetable crisper. A good trick is to trim the bottom stem of whole lettuce heads as you would cut flowers then wash in warm water. Let the greens sit for 5 minutes to let dirt settle to bottom of sink then lift out lettuce. Spin or shake and paper towel dry before storing with the damp paper towel wrapped loosely around stem end and in an airtight plastic container or bag.

Mushrooms
If storing in the refrigerator, do not clean them before storing. Store uncleaned mushrooms in a paper bag or their original container. Do not store in plastic or airtight plastic containers, which causes them to retain moisture and decay faster. Keep them in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. It is best to eat them as soon as possible. Dried mushrooms may be stored indefinitely. To preserve mushrooms for an extended period of time, use other methods such as freezing, drying, salting, canning or pickling.

Parsnips
Store parsnips unwashed, in a loosely wrapped or perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Peas
Peas are best purchased for immediate use, or keep in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Wash them before eating.

Potatoes
Potatoes like cool (45°F to 50°F) humid (but not wet) surroundings, but refrigeration can turn the starch in the potatoes to sugar and may tend to darken them when cooked. Store in burlap, brown paper, or perforated plastic bags away from light, in the coolest, non-refrigerated, and well-ventilated part of the house. Under ideal conditions they can last up to three months this way, but more realistically, figure three to five weeks. New potatoes should be used within one week of purchase. Don’t store onions and potatoes together, as the gases they each give off, will cause the other to decay.

Radishes
With the greens still intact, radishes should be immediately separated when you get home. Radishes will last up to two weeks inside a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator, but greens have a much shorter shelf life, only a few days. Keep both well chilled.

Snap peas
Snap and sugar peas have a somewhat longer shelf life than green peas, up to three days when kept refrigerated unwashed, in plastic bags.

Snow Peas
Use peas as soon as possible, within 4-5 days max. The storage of peas lessens some their sweetness and crisp texture.

Summer Squash
Your summer squash will dehydrate fast, so use within a week. Store squash in plastic bags in your crisper drawer of your refrigerator. ** Damaged/blemished squash will expire very quickly, so use right away if you find this.

Spinach
Untie bunches, remove any blemished leaves, trim off the stems, and wash it thoroughly in cold water. Repeat if necessary until you’re sure all the grit is gone. Spin dry in a salad spinner or drain well, then put into clean plastic bags very loosely wrapped with paper towels. It will last only two to three days, so plan on eating your rinsed spinach right away. Cold, moist surroundings, as low as 32°F and about 95% humidity are the best for storing spinach.

Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichoke)
Even though this item is available year-round, the best season for sunchokes is from October to April, and they are best dug after a light frost. This vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. Before eating or cooking, scrub the tubers thoroughly with a vegetable brush. Raw sunchokes should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from light. They can also be stored in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, wrapped in paper towels to absorb humidity and sealed in a plastic bag. Fresh raw sunchokes can be stored from 1 to 3 weeks. Cooked sunchokes should be refrigerated and consumed within two days.

Tomatillos
Fresh ripe tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. They will keep even longer if the husks are removed and the fruits are placed in sealed plastic bags stored in the refrigerator. They may also be frozen whole or sliced.

Tomatoes
are similar to fruit when it comes to storage. Keep unripe tomatoes at room temperature. Place in the fridge to slow the ripening process when desired and after slicing.

Turnips
Store unwashed turnips in a plastic bag for 1-2 weeks. To prolong the shelf life of turnips, you can put them in moist sand in a cool location.

Turnip Greens
If your turnip greens have roots attached, remove them from the root. Store them in the refrigerator separately wrapped in a perforated plastic bag. They should keep fresh for about four days.

Zucchini
Refrigerate in vegetable crisper in an opened plastic bag. They will remain firm for about one week. To avoid damaging the skin, do not clean zucchini until ready to use.

Other

Cilantro
As soon as you arrive home with fresh cilantro, place the stems (with roots intact if attached) in a glass of water and cover the top loosely with a plastic bag. Refrigerate. Snip off leaves as you need them and re-cover. The water should be changed every 2 to 3 days. Do not wash the herb until you are ready to use it since excess moisture will turn the leaves to green slime during storage. It should last up to a week in the refrigerator.

Ginger
Tightly wrap in a paper towel or plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Or place ginger in a jar of sherry and it will keep in the refrigerator for 3-6 months.

Parsley
To keep parsley fresh, place the stems in a jar of water and cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Keep in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.

Why Eat More Raw in 2012?  

“Food sustains us, yet what we eat may affect our risk for several of the leading causes of death for Americans, notably, coronary heart disease, stroke, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and some types of cancer. These disorders together now account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States.” -former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop

It is estimated that 60% of disease is caused by the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). If food is the culprit, I believe that food can be the answer. As we become mindful about what we eat, we can start to make choices that promote our health over illness. Food is consumed for nutrition but it is also consumed for pleasure. What happens if we learn how to satisfy our pleasure receptors with healthy food?   Our lives improve.

What do our bodies need to eat raw?

What are the building blocks that our bodies need to function? Enzymes, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein, essential fats and fiber. These are all provided by our food and are involved in growth, repair and maintenance of the body. Let’s take a quick look at each of these and what they do for you.

Enzymes    Enzymes convert the food we eat into chemical structures that can pass though the membranes of the cells lining the digestive tract and into the blood stream. Their job doesn’t end there. Enzymes are the living proteins that direct the life force into our biochemical and metabolic processes. They help transform and store energy, make active hormones, dissolve fiber and prevent clotting. They have anti-inflammatory effects. Enzymes help balance and restore the immune system, and heal many diseases. Enzymes even help repair our DNA and our RNA.

When we cook food, we destroy many of the enzymes that help us naturally digest it.

Vitamins     Without vitamins our cells would not function properly and thus our organs would suffer and eventually we would no longer be able to survive. Vitamins help regulate metabolism, help convert fat and carbohydrates intoenergy, and assist in forming bone and tissue. Guess what happens when you cook food? You got it, a large percentage of the vitamins are destroyed.

Viktoras Kulvinskas in his book, Survival into the 21st Century, estimates that the overall nutrient destruction is as high as 80%. Tests have shown that we will lose 50% of the B vitamins while B1 and B12 can lose up to 96%. 97% of folic acid is destroyed as well as 70-80 % of vitamin C.

Minerals    Seventeen of the thirty elements known to be essential to life are metals. Mineral deficiencies cause disease in humans. Minerals also have a synergistic relationship with vitamins. They help each other help us. When foods are cooked, many of the minerals are destroyed, or altered, rendering them useless and also unable to assist our friends the vitamins.

Phytonutrients    Phytonutrients are what give fruits and vegetables their color. Phytos protect the body and fight disease. They also fight cancer and help your heart. Phytonutrient are at leading edge of research on nutrition. They provide medicine for cell health. And once again, Phytonutrients in freshly harvested plant foods can be destroyed or removed by cooking.

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Off the Vine Produce, Inc.  11 Eglin Parkway N.E.,  Fort Walton Beach, Florida  32548      850-374-2181    www.offthevine.org