Clever Plastic-Free and Low-Tech Ways to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Many fruits and vegetables taste better eaten the day they’re harvested from the garden. But what if you need to store your crop before you can prepare it? It’s possible to store your fruits and veggies using old technology and avoiding plastic altogether for zero waste storage.

How­To: Store Fruits and Vegetables.

Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic.

The Ecology Center Farmers' Markets produced a large list of ways to store your produce without using plastic to push the markets and customers toward zero waste. Below is a sampling of the plastic-free tips and tricks of vegetable and fruit storage.

Fruits.

Apples- Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, put in a cardboard box in the fridge.

Citrus- Store in a cool place with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.

Apricots/Nectarines- On a cool counter or fridge if fully ripe

Cherries- Store in an airtight container. Don’t wash Cherries until ready to eat, added moisture encourages mold.

Berries -­Don’t forget they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag woks well, only wash before you plan to eat

Strawberries- Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.

Veggies.

Always remove any tight bands from you vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breath

Asparagus- Place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. Will keep for a week outside the fridge.

Basil- Basil does not like the cold or to be wet. The best method is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside, left out on a cool counter.

Broccoli -Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Carrots- Cut the tops off (but save them for tea) to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days, if they’re stored that long.

Cauliflower- Will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.

Lettuce- Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Zucchini- Does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life skips the damp towel for carrots and stores them in containers of water that she frequently changes. According to Beth, the carrots, cut or whole, keep for weeks. The complete list of tips on vegetable and fruit storage is available in a downloadable PDF.

Saving Food from the Fridge.

© Jihyun Ryou

How did we store food before we handed that job over to technology? Korean designer, Jihyun Ryou, tackled that question in her project, Save Food From the Fridge, which Lloyd Alter wrote about earlier here at TreeHugger, when she went in search of oral knowledge of elders and farmers.

What emerged is a simple and elegant way of storing and connecting to the ingredients we tuck away in the back of the refrigerator until they lose their flavor or start to decompose.

Watch Jihyun Ryou Save Food From Her Fridge.

As gardeners we know about companion planting, but do we practice companion storage? Growing up apples were stored on the kitchen table or crisper in the fridge, while potatoes were relegated to the darkest corner of the food pantry.

Jihyun’s method for storing both takes a different approach. She takes advantage of the ethylene gas emitted by apples as they ripen to suppress sprouting in potatoes.

What low-tech and plastic-less methods do you use to store your food?

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Tags: Energy Efficiency | Farmers Markets | Farming | Fruits & Vegetables | Gardening | Plastics