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4P Foods Storage Tips

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is a winter squash that is named for its Acorn-like shape. They peak during the Fall and Winter months. Acorn Squash come in a variety of colors including yellow, dark green, tan and orange. Acorn squash is good and hardy to save throughout the winter in storage, keeping several months in a cool dry location such as a cold cellar. Once cut, wrap cut pieces in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Acrorn squash is a favorite to cut in half and roast with butter and brown sugar, however it is also commonly stuffed with sausage and rice, pureed into soups or even baked into cakes or pies.

For recipe ideas, check out our Acorn Squash board on Pinterest

Alfalfa Sprouts

Alfalfa sprouts are an extremely nutrient rich member of the pea family and are therefore technically a legume. Health advocates love them for their richness in vitamin A,  vitamin B, zinc, calcium, magnesium and folic acid. Their nutty flavor and crisp texture also make for a great addition to salads and sandwiches. Alfalfa sprouts are very perishable so in order to save all this goodness they need to be stored properly.

The number one rule in Alfalfa sprout storage is to make sure they are dry. If you choose to wash them before placing them in the refrigerator, pat them gently with a paper towel to absorb any remaining moisture on the sprouts. Doing so will keep them crisp and fresh longer. Be sure to use cool water when washing sprouts as warm water may cause the sprouts to spoil quicker. Another good idea is to place them in a sealed plastic bag to avoid moisture coming in from the outside. Once placed in the refrigerator (preferably in the crisper compartment) they can be stored for 4-5 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Alfalfa Sprouts board on Pinterest

Apples

Did you know there is a differentiation between cooking and eating apples? Well, as it turns out there is. Specific apple varieties are better suited for specific dishes. This is based on sugar and acid levels in the fruit. Apples containing higher sugar levels typically hold their shape better when cooking. That said, when baking with apples it is best to remove the skin because they tend to toughen when cooked with sugar.

Of the nearly 8,000 apple varieties, only a small proportion are commercially cultivated. However, all modern varieties can trace their roots back to the earliest form of the apple, the wild, sour crab apple, which originated in modern day Kazakhstan.

 Apples slowly continue ripening after picking, so they are best stored in your “Green Bag” for up to a week in the crisper in your refrigerator. Be sure you don’t store apples freely in the crisper with other items. The gases released by the apples will cause your other items to go bad sooner.

For recipe ideas, check out our Apples board on Pinterest

Arugula

Arugula is known for its sharp, peppery, mustardy flavor. The ancient Romans were the first to utilize it’s fiery flavor and it is a tradition that persists in dishes of the Italians today. While it is most commonly used in its raw state in salads, it can also be used lightly wilted in pasta dishes or risotto. Arugula does not need to be limited to the salad realm, try it out in some cooked dishes such as pizza or soup, it pairs wonderfully with parmesan cheese and olive oil! Not only is it delicious but it is also rich in Vitamins A and C, and Iron.

Arugula can be extremely perishable. It is best stored in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. As with all greens, it is delicate and shouldn’t be squished or bent. When washing, be sure to remove any grit and to dry the arugula carefully by lightly dabbing with a paper towel. For peak freshness, it is always a good idea to use arugula with in 1-2 days of receiving.

For recipe ideas, check out our Arugula board on Pinterest

Asparagus

Asparagus is a sure sign that Spring has arrived as it is one of the first vegetables of the season to be harvested. Asparagus tips are actually leafy buds that if not harvested, would develop into a fernlike plant carrying bright red berries. There are hundreds of species of asparagus mostly concentrated in the Mediterranean region where they grow wildly. Even though we are very accustomed to our green variety, there are also varieties that are purple and white.

Asparagus is extremely susceptible to moisture loss and damage so it is best eaten as soon as possible after harvesting. They do best when kept cool and damp so do well when stored in a sealed plastic bag left in the refrigerator. Some even suggest that you should place a moist paper towel into the plastic bag to encourage moistness. Because of its tendency to lose sweetness over time, Asparagus is best enjoyed within 2-3 days of receiving, but can be stored for up to a week.

For recipe ideas, check out our Asparagus board on Pinterest

Basil

Almost any Italian dish could go from bland to mouthwatering with just the simple addition of fresh basil. Basil is a key ingredient in many traditional tomato sauces and pesto recipes. It’s history goes back almost 4,000 years when it was used in Ancient Egypt for embalming. Another interesting cultural fact about basil is that it is considered sacred in the Hindu culture and is widely believed to be a favorite herb of the gods. In addition to being a delicious and culturally rich herb, basil is also extremely healthy. It has high levels of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by relaxing muscles and blood vessels.

Basil plants are known for their durability, but once the leaves are picked, basil wilts at an alarming rate. Try to use your basil as soon as possible. If you need to keep the basil for more than a few days, either stick the stems directly into a vase of water or if the leaves do not have a stem you can wrap them using a damp paper towel and placing them in a plastic bag in the crisper. One way to store basil for longer periods of time is to whirl the basil in the food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil (depending on the amount of basil you should add oil proportionally, then simply pour into ice trays or other containers and freeze). When ready to use, just defrost and add the desired amount to your recipe.

For recipe ideas, check out our Basil board on Pinterest

Bean Sprouts

Chinese physicians have known the health benefits of bean sprouts and have been prescribing them to their patients for millennia. Essentially, bean sprouts are exactly what they sound like, they are the sprouts from the seeds of beans that have just started to grow.  Everything needed to make a full grown plant are all stored in the little sprout, which is what makes them such a great source of concentrated energy and nutrients.

Bean sprouts should be stored in a sealed plastic bag with room so that they are not squished together. They should not be washed until they are ready to be used as water can cause them to become brown and mushy. Once they have reached that state they are no longer safe to eat. Try to use bean sprouts within 2-3 days of receiving as then they will be at the peak of their nutritional quality and flavor.

For recipe ideas, check out our Bean Sprouts board on Pinterest

Beets

Beets contain more sucrose than any other vegetable. They can be boiled, roasted or steamed with their skins left on to protect their flavor and color. However, baking or roasting results in the sweetest, most intense flavor. When preparing beets, cut off the stem and scrub the beets to remove any dirt before cooking. If roasting, pat dry.

 Beets will keep for up to 10 days when stored in your plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator.

For recipe ideas, check out our Beets board on Pinterest

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers are native to Central and South America. Bell peppers are a member of the nightshade family and are often known as Capsicum outside of the United States. They contain a recessive gene which means that they don’t contain any capsaicin, the heat-producing compound common to all other chilies. Bell peppers are crisp and often sweet when left to ripen to yellow, orange, red or purple. They are a much-loved vegetable and are great when eaten raw, in salads, stir-fried, broiled, stuffed or grilled.

Almost all peppers turn from green to yellow, orange, red, or purple when they are fully ripe. Because of this, the color of the pepper says a lot about how long they can be stored. Green peppers (2-3 weeks) will typically stay fresh longer than red, yellow, purple, or orange (1-2 weeks). Avoid cutting until ready to be used, once cut, the peppers are very susceptible to spoilage. For even longer term storage (up to 10 months) you can freeze peppers. If frozen, the pepper will keep it’s flavor, however lose it’s crispness.

For recipe ideas, check out our Peppers board on Pinterest

Blackberries

Want to hear something really confusing? There are black raspberries and blackberries. To make it even more confusing, blackberries are actually red before they ripen. How can you tell the difference? Well, black raspberries are hallow in the middle while blackberries have a white core. Black raspberries are also a bit smaller and have very small hairs on each “cell”, blackberry cells are much larger in comparison and are shiny in texture. Blackberries are both delicious and nutritious. Scientist have discovered that blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents per serving of any food tested.

Blackberries should be examined before storage and any bruised or moldy berries should be discarded (they could cause the others to spoil quicker). It is also helpful to avoid washing the berries until you are ready to eat them, excess moisture will hasten decay. The berries should be placed in a shallow container with lots of space so that the berries are not piled on top of each other. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate and they should last for 3-4 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Blackberries board on Pinterest

Blueberries

Blueberries are indigenous to North America and have a deep connection to American history. Historians say that Native Americans used blueberries throughout the entire year. They were dried in the sun and added into soups and even used as a meat preservative! These blueberries grew wild and it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that we were able to domesticate them for agriculture. A women named Elizabeth White was the first to find a way to cultivate them by crossbreeding the blueberry varieties with the desired traits. Over the years, botanists have found ways to vastly improve the size, color, taste, and yields. The berries have become so successful that they are now the second most consumed berry in North America, only second to strawberries — and 90% of blueberries are grown right here in the USA!

Before storing, remove all of the crushed or moldy berries to prevent the spread of decay. Do not wash blueberries until you are ready to dig in as washing softens their protective skin and can cause them to spoil quicker. Store the blueberries in a plastic or glass container lined with a paper towel and make sure they are loosely packed. Place them in the refrigerator and they should last for 1-2 weeks. One important thing to remember is that blueberries react poorly with metal, if you choose to bake with blueberries either use a glass pan or line your metal pan.

For recipe ideas, check out our Blueberries board on Pinterest

Bok Choy

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is an easy-to-prepare leafy green that belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family. Although bok choy has only recently become popular in western countries, it has long been one of the most widely used vegetables in the world. The Chinese have been cultivating bok choy for more than 5,000 years – making it one of the oldest vegetables eaten today. Bok choy is excellent sautéed, in stir fry, and paired with mushrooms and carrots.

For optimal freshness, wait to wash bok choy until you are ready to use it. Once washing, the leaves tend to wilt. Bok choy can be stored in the refrigerator (preferably in the crisper section), and is best eaten within 3-4 days. In the freezer, bok choy can last 10-12 months if stored properly. To do so, wash off the leaves and cut off the woody steams. Next, boil the bok choy for two minutes and quickly  place into ice water. Lastly, dry off excess water, put in an airtight plastic bag and freeze immediately.

For recipe ideas, check out our Bok Choy board on Pinterest

Broccoli

You may remember being forced to eat your broccoli as a child or face an evening without dessert or being stuck at the dinner table until it’s gone. Though difficult for a child to understand, there is a reason why parents push broccoli onto their children. Broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrients and beneficial fiber. Even the American Cancer Society is backing up broccoli’s healing powers! It contains important phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, and a wide array of flavonoids. Beyond its many health benefits, broccoli is a versatile and delicious way to put some green on the plate!

Do NOT place broccoli in a sealed container! Broccoli needs to have some airflow in order to stay fresh. Place in a perforated or open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper ASAP. Do not wash broccoli before storing as moisture clinging to its surface will cause it to deteriorate more quickly. Broccoli should be used within 3-4 days or until it starts to show signs of discoloration.

For recipe ideas, check out our Broccoli board on Pinterest

Broccoli Raab

You may not have known this, but despite its name, broccoli raab is not directly related to broccoli. In fact, it is a closer relative to turnips than to broccoli! Broccoli raab gets its name from its similar appearance to broccoli, the main difference being that it has smaller and softer florets and longer stems. One cup serving of broccoli raab has 100% of our daily need for Vitamin K and a very high percentage of Vitamins A and C, Folate, Iron, and Calcium.

Broccoli raab can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. It is best not to wash broccoli rabb until it is ready to be used. To make storage last several months, use the blanch and freeze method.

For recipe ideas, check out our Broccoli Raab board on Pinterest

Brussels Sprouts

No longer a dreaded childhood vegetable, Brussels sprouts are the hippest vegetables around. You can get them either bagged or on the stalk, and the latter results in them being better tasting, sturdier, and healthier than the loose ones. Pulling backward, remove each of the sprouts—they should just snap off in your hand with a little pressure.

The stalk can be used for making vegetable broth, along with other vegetable scraps and items such as broccoli stems. Remove any leaves from the sprouts that may be yellow or spotted, then put the Brussels sprouts in a bowl filled with warm water and let them soak for about 10 minutes. This will flush out the dirt and any tiny critters than may be lurking in the folds.

We love to just roast them in a 425 F oven with some salt, pepper and olive oil for 20 minutes, and then toss them with honey and balsamic vinegar. When you’re cooking them, be sure that they’re all about the same size so they cook evenly.

Butter Beans

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart the more you eat, the more you… well… the more beneficial fibers you ingest to aid digestion! Having a diet high in fiber is not only good for your digestive system, but keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels low to promote a healthy cardiovascular system! Butter beans, or Lima beans, are especially tasty and got their name from their buttery texture. Add them to a salad or cooked dish for a healthy, vegetarian-friendly protein!

Butter beans can be stored in an airtight container or heavily wrapped in plastic wrap for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. For longer storage, try blanching the beans for three minutes and storing them in ziplock freezer bags.

For recipe ideas, check out our Butter Beans board on Pinterest

Butternut Squash

This winter squash is incredibly versatile and can but used in a variety of ways including roasting, pureed into a soup, turned into a curry, or baked into a pie. With it’s natural sweetness, adding a little butter and brown sugar bring out its subtle sweetness, while it also adds its natural buttery sweetness to soups and curries. 

The easiest method of peeling butternut squash is after roasting. Once cooled, the skin will peel off easily with a fork or you can easily scoop out the flesh leaving the skin behind. Butternut squash can store for several months if kept in a cool, well-ventilated spot. Cut squash is very perishable and should be refrigerated and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Butternut Squash board on Pinterest

Cabbage

Interesting fact: different color cabbage is in season at different times. The red variety is in season in Fall; green in winter and savoy in spring. Who woulda thought? Though many of us have had our view of cabbage scarred by one too many boiled cabbage recipes growing up, cabbage can actually be using in some of the highest quality culinary creations. Cabbage is a member of the brassica family (along with brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower).

A whole cabbage is best dealt with by removing all the tough outer leaves, then cutting the vegetable in half lengthwise. Using a large, sharp knife, cut out the hard central core, then thinly slice for use in salads, to braise, steam, or stir-fry. You can store an unused head of cabbage in your “Green Bag” in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After preparation, any unused cabbage will store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Cabbage board on Pinterest

Cantaloupe

Did you know that what we in the United States call a cantaloupe is actually a muskmelon? A true European cantaloupe looks very different, lacking the characteristic net-like skin covering of muskmelon and is rarely imported into the United States. That’s because the muskmelon is actually much sweeter, softer, and overall a more attractive fruit. Muskmelons were first cultivated in Persia, but the name Cantaloupe originates from the Italian papal village of Cantalup where it was popularized.

Here’s a good joke for the next time you need some good material to impress people with: Why are melons lonely? Because they cantaloupe!

Cantaloupe’s optimal storage conditions are cold and wet (95-100 humidity to prevent drying). Wrapping cantaloupe in plastic wrap or foil will help to prevent moisture loss. The best place to store them is the refrigerator crisper, however, we know that’s not possible for everyone. If your refrigerator cannot accommodate an entire cantaloupe, don’t fret! Uncut cantaloupes can be stored at room temperature for 1 week. Once cut, the melon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Cantaloupe board on Pinterest

Carrots

The purple carrot is believed to have been the original carrot variety that originated in Afghanistan. You may be surprised to hear there was once a pink and black variety as well. The orange carrot is said to have been developed by the Dutch in the 1700s, motivated by the patriotism surrounding the ruling House of Orange.

Carrots have the highest Vitamin A content of any other vegetable, which makes them good for retinal function. Carrots are available year-round which has made them a kitchen staple.

Though we tend to boil carrots, they are delicious when roasted. The dry heat helps to concentrate their sugars, essentially caramelizing them. Though carrots go with almost anything, they are particularly delicious when paired with dill, parsley, mint, butter, cream, walnuts, honey, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.

For recipe ideas, check out our Carrots board on Pinterest

Celery Root

A lot of people’s first reaction to this hairy looking bulb is “are you SURE that’s edible?”. Despite, celery root’s humble appearance (not every vegetable can be a beauty queen), it is not only edible but quite buttery and earthy. In fact, in some cultures it is considered a delicacy, which goes to show that looks are not everything. Despite its name, celery root is not the root of the celery we eat today but was named such as it has a similar flavor. This vegetable may take a little longer to disassemble (remove about 1 cm of the flesh under the skin with a sharp knife), but the flavor rewards are well worth the time.

Celery root, which also bears the name celeriac, keeps extremely well. Considering that the majority of its life is spent underground, its no surprise that celery root enjoys being stored in a cool, dark environment. It will keep in the coolest part of the refrigerator for up to 10 days and if wrapped in plastic beforehand, it could keep for several weeks.

For recipe ideas, check out our Celery Root board on Pinterest

Cherries

Cherries are an iconic fruit. Something about their ruby red, shiny, and plum appearance is somehow glamorous. I’ve seen cherries on earrings, headbands, purses, and the like. Neil Diamond, Warrant, and the Rolling Stones sang about them, Louis Vuitton put them on their bags, and people pay lots of money for “cherry red” lips. Cherries are sweet and succulent and make delicious healthy snacks when eaten in their raw state. They can also be frozen and used in smoothie recipes. Cherries also make a delicious addition to desserts such as pies and cakes, and pair well with ice cream. There are even recipes for cherry BBQ sauces that pair with beef and pork! Go crazy, be bold! They truly are the cherry on top on every recipe.

Cherries can lose more quality in one hour at room temperature than a day in the refrigerator. So get your cherries into the refrigerator ASAP! Do not worry about washing them first, in fact, they shouldn’t be washed until they are ready to be eaten. They do best when stored in a plastic “Green Bag” in the fridge and can last for 4-7 days. You can also freeze cherries whole or remove the pit for longer-term storage — up to a year if done right! Make sure you wash and stem them first and then place them in an airtight container.

For recipe ideas, check out our Cherries board on Pinterest

Collard Greens

Collard Greens should be refrigerated in a “Green Bag” for up to 5 days. Do not wash your collards before storing them. This will cause them to go bad quicker. When ready to prepare, submerge collards in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes and allow all of the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Remove leaves from bowl and run cool water over them to remove any remaining dirt.

Collards are commonly sautéed with bacon and served Southern Style. However, collards are also great when eaten raw and can be thinly cut and added to salads and slaws or can be used to wrap a variety of delicious mixtures in a fresh, crunchy shell. Collards can also be wilted into soups and stews or added to pasta for a lovely hint of green.

For recipe ideas, check out our Collard Greens board on Pinterest

Creasy Greens

Creasy greens, or as they are sometimes referred to, “creasies”, are an old time American favorite. They often grow wildly in the Appalachian Mountains and although they were traditionally hunted by foragers, they are now grown commercially. They are a gardeners dream because they are extremely hardy and require virtually no care. Their flavor is similar to the pungent spice of watercress and has a texture similar to spinach. They can be used raw in salads to add a splash of peppery flavor, or to lessen the bite, you can also quickly boil them or sauté them.

As with most greens, creasy greens are sensitive and need appropriate care to keep from wilting. They should be stored in a roomy container and preferably in the crisper section of the refrigerator. One storage tip that you may not know is that if you store your greens with a dry paper towel in the container, the paper towel will absorb some of the excess moisture and preserve the greens longer.

For recipe ideas, check out our Creasy Greens board on Pinterest

Cucumbers

The phrase “cool as a cucumber” is more than just a fun catch phrase, cucumbers have actually been proven to have cooling effects on body temperature due to their high water content. Since cucumbers are 96% water, they help to rehydrate the body and replenish energy sources. This is also the reason why cucumbers are placed on the eyes at spas, the high water content helps to relieve puffiness and irritation. They also contain most of your B vitamins (a nutrient that most Americans are low in), making them a great afternoon pick me up in place of your caffeine ritual.

According to a study at UC Davis, we’ve all been storing our cucumbers wrong. This study found that storing cucumbers below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, makes them more prone to cold injury (growing mushy or slimy). Storing on the counter will actually improve the lifespan of your cucumbers! Be aware though, they are extremely sensitive to ethylene and should therefore be kept away from bananas, melons, tomatoes, and other ethylene emitting produce.

For recipe ideas, check out our Cucumber board on Pinterest

Delicata Squash

Delicata squash is a winter squash variety that also carries the names peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This squash is extremely chef friendly as they do not require roasting or baking to soften the flesh. That’s right, you can easily chop and slice this squash without having to go through the process of softening it. They are often cited as having a similar flavor to sweet potatoes.

Despite its name, Delicata Squash is extremely hardy and storage friendly. If kept in a cool, dry place, they can be stored for up to three months.

For recipe ideas, check out our Delicata Squash board on Pinterest

Eggplant

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, which is made up of mostly poisonous plants, and because of this gained a few unflattering nicknames. Europeans called eggplant “mala isana” meaning “bad egg, mad apple or apple of madness”, believing that this innocent little treat would poison it’s eaters and lead to insanity. However, this “apple” did fall far from its family tree as it is actually a delicious and beneficial health food!

Eggplants do not hold well for long term storage. You can store eggplants in a cool dry place for 1-2 days without refrigeration (this is the best time to eat them as refrigeration may cause browning and alter the flavor) but any longer than that it is recommended you place them in the refrigerator’s crisper where they can stay for up to 7 days. Make sure to keep it uncut and unwashed and store in a plastic “Green Bag”. Eggplants are also sensitive to ethylene gas given off by some produce such as apples and potatoes so be careful not to store too closely to certain fruits and vegetables.

For recipe ideas, check out our Eggplant board on Pinterest

Fennel

Fennel is a wonderful and versatile vegetable that originated in the Mediterranean Basin. In ancient times, it was thought to suppress one’s appetite which is why the greek word for fennel is marathon which means “grow thin”. Although there may not be any scientific evidence that this claim is true, fennel is known to have many health promoting properties such as being rich in Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. Fennel is also a symbol of victory for the Athenians as their famous final battle was in the city of Marathon which means “place of fennel”. Although fennel has been part of European cuisine for thousands of years, it wasn’t until 1824 that the New World got its first taste of fennel. Although the herb is becoming more popular in the US, Europe and particularly Italy still take the cake for most fennel consumed. Fennel’s anise and licorice flavor tastes perfect in salads paired with capers, olives, parmesan, goat cheese, lemon juice, salmon, and much more. Try it both raw and roasted or braised.

Fennel doesn’t store all that well. It’s best to plan on eating it within 4 days for optimal freshness. Place fennel in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator wait until ready to eat to wash. If stored properly, it could last anywhere from 7-10 days. It is also possible to blanch fennel (place it in boiling water for three minutes) and quickly freeze it, allowing it to last up to 10-12 months.

For recipe ideas, check out our Fennel board on Pinterest

Garlic

Garlic is the most widely used and loved flavoring in the world with very few cuisines not enjoying its unique taste. It comes in hundreds of varieties with different intensities of flavor. Because of its popularity, various special powers have been attributed to garlic through folklore; everything from warding off demons and vampires, to improving memory and vigor (all of which we hope are true). Regardless of whether or not these powers hold true or not, garlic is extremely nutrient rich and beneficial to health and makes a great addition to … well, almost everything.

To make the most of your bulbs, keep your garlic in a dark, well-ventilated place. Garlic really doesn’t like moisture or light as it has spent most of its life happily underground. Garlic should not be stored in plastic containers, in the refrigerator, or frozen. Freezing garlic will ruin the flavor and texture so it’s best to leave it at room temperature. Once individual cloves are cut, garlic will turn bitter with exposure to air so avoid preparing until needed. For a new spin on the classic method of preparation, try roasting and storing your garlic as a paste in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For recipe ideas, check out our Garlic board on Pinterest

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the curly tipped flower-stalk that grows out of hard-neck garlic varieties. As the stalks grow, it winds up and forms it’s characteristic curlicues. These stalks are snipped before the flower fully matures so that the plant will direct more of its energy into developing the bulb. Scapes have the same garlic taste that we all know and love but in a more mild version. They have the same texture as asparagus and can be prepared in the same way. Scapes can also be used in the same way as green onions. They make a beautiful garnish to any dish and also make a killer pesto, soup, and can even be roasted.

To store garlic scapes, place them in a plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. They can also be stored (beautifully) in a vase full of fresh water on your countertop if you plan on using them within a few days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Garlic Scapes board on Pinterest

Grapefruit

Grapefruit is classified as white, pink or ruby; these describe the flesh, not the skin color. Grapefruit has optimum flavor when not chilled so, if refrigerated, bring to room temperature before eating. The slightly bitter edge of Grapefruit is a wonderful complement to seafood, salad greens and avocado.

Grapefruit will store for 3-4 weeks in the crisper section of the refrigerator – or for about a week when stored at room temperature.

For recipe ideas, check out our Grapefruit board on Pinterest

Grapes

The plants that grapes grow on are older than humanity. There is archeological evidence of wild grape vines from as far back as 130 millions years ago! It is believed that the domestication of grapes began somewhere between 6,000 to 8,000 years ago near the Caspian Sea. Those grapes were almost entirely used for making wine. It wasn’t until the 16th century and the discovery of sweeter varieties that it became normal to use grapes as a table fruit. Now there are more than 8,000 grape varieties and even though the majority of grapes are still being used for wine, grapes have become a popular fruit to snack on.

Hold off on washing your grapes until you are ready to eat them as any excess moisture will damage the skin and facilitate rotting. Grapes store best when kept cool in the back of the refrigerator where it is coldest. Here they can stay for 1-2 weeks. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying frozen grapes, we highly recommend it! They taste like sweet little popsicles. All you have to do is wash them and place in the freezer! They can last for 10-12 months when frozen.

For recipe ideas, check out our Grapes board on Pinterest

Green Beans

Green Beans are native to Peru and are relatives of the kidney bean, pinto bean, and black bean. Green beans are actually picked when they are immature because if they were allowed to mature, their seeds would become too large and their pods would become tough and inedible. So the reason we call them “green” beans is actually a reference to their immaturity when picked and not their actual color. Green beans can come in many different hues — from yellow to purple to deep green. So don’t let the name trick you!

Green Beans are best stored in a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Avoid washing until use and they should keep for about seven days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Green Beans board on Pinterest

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers can be added to almost any meal to add a little extra kick! They pair especially nicely with cheese and tomatoes. Be cautious with them though. They may be small, but they pack a mighty punch and should be used mindfully to ensure not to overwhelm the eater and not to overpower other flavors in the dish. When used correctly, there is nothing better than a little extra spice in your life.

Hot peppers should be placed immediately in the refrigerator where they can last for two to three weeks. Do not wash until ready to use. Hot peppers also make a good candidate for dehydrating or drying because of their thin walls. Dried hot peppers can last for several months to several years when done properly! A word of caution: always use gloves when cutting and preparing hot peppers as the oils released can irritate the hands and can be transmitted by scratching. Be extra careful not to touch the skin on your face and around your eyes!

For recipe ideas, check out our Hot Peppers board on Pinterest

Jerusalem Artichokes

For those that aren’t familiar with this winter root vegetable, the Jerusalem Artichoke is easily mistaken for ginger. They are, however, a member of the Sunflower family. They actually produce flowers similar to sunflowers, and the part we eat is the tuber of the plant. The nickname “sunchoke,” makes a lot of sense now, doesn’t it?  

Don’t go through the trouble to peel your “sunchokes”, the skin is perfectly edible. Just give it a good scrub and pat dry before using. Jerusalem artichokes can be stored in a plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For recipe ideas, check out our Jerusalem Artichokes board on Pinterest

Kale

Kale requires a bit of preparation before storage, but once done you will keep your kale fresh and crispy for much longer. As soon as you get home with your kale (or as soon as you have a few minutes…I know we don’t all have the luxury of a quite empty house to come home to) fill a bowl with cool water and submerge the kale in the water. Allow to sit for several minutes, swish, let sit and then remove. Wrap kale in a damp paper towel and store in a sealed storage bag for up to 5 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Kale board on Pinterest

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi has been described as both “the ugliest vegetable you’ve ever loved” and “a cross between an octopus and a space capsule”. Almost everyone has their own unique combination of weird things kohlrabi looks like a cross between — even the name “Kohlrabi” means “cabbage turnip” in German. Kohlrabi’s appearance may be a bit alien and intimidating, but in taste it is actually a pleasant blend of familiar flavors. It is one of the vegetables that local food enthusiasts will often tell you that YOU HAVE TO TRY. In Elizabeth Schneider’s classic Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, she describes kohlrabi as “the freshest, crunchiest broccoli stems, touched with a hint of radish and cucumber”. While others describe it as having the texture of radishes, the flavor of jicama, and the crunch of cabbage. Just like its appearance, its taste can be described in a number of different combinations.

If leaves are still attached, cut them off before storage. The leaves are also edible so they can be saved and used just like kale. They can be stored in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. The blub can be cleaned and stored in a plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Kohlrabi board on Pinterest

Leeks

Leeks are one of the most popular vegetables throughout the United Kingdom and other northern European countries. They haven’t quite taken off in America as much as they have in Europe, but leeks can still be found here mainly in the form of soup — the most popular recipe being the Irish potato leek soup. Like all vegetables in the allium family (shallots, onions, and garlic), leeks have amazing health-promoting properties. They have been attributed with lowering high cholesterol, protecting against high blood pressure, and preventing certain cancers (most notably prostate and colon).

Leeks should be stored in the refrigerator in a loosely sealed plastic bag with their leaves still attached. In proper conditions, leeks can be stored for up to 7 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Leeks board on Pinterest

Lemons

The lemon is surely one of the most useful and versatile fruits. Today, about a quarter of the world’s lemons are grown in California. However, our East Coast (mostly Florida) growers are beginning to make a name for themselves as well. Surprisingly, lemons are at peak season in Winter and Spring, though in warmer climates. If your lemons get damp at any point, be sure to dry them before storage, as the moisture will cause mold to quickly grow and spread to any lemons sitting nearby. Lemons will store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 1 week at cool room temperature.

For recipe ideas, check out our Lemons board on Pinterest

Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce originated on the Greek Island of Cos, where it was discovered by the ancient Romans. Romaine lettuce should be washed thoroughly before using. However, do not soak the leaves, instead run cool water over them to remove any dirt. Store your romaine lettuce in a “Green Bag” in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Sometimes it will last longer but plan to use your romaine within the first few days of receiving your bag. Bibb lettuce is a variety of butter lettuce, named this for its mild buttery flavor and silky textured leaves. Your Bibb lettuce can be stored in it’s original clamshell container for up to one week.

For recipe ideas, check out our Lettuce Get Crazy! board on Pinterest

Mustard Greens

A classic southern green, mustard greens also pack a healthy punch, with some incredible cholesterol lowering ability. The strongest tasting of the so-called bitter greens—mustard has a sharp, biting peppery taste that can sting like a strong radish. They can be kept in the green bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator for up to a week. Store them unwashed until you are ready to use them, and they can also be frozen like spinach.

Wash the greens just before using in a large bowl of lukewarm water in order to dislodge sand and dirt, then cut off and discard the stems. You can remove the stems by folding the leaves in half and ripping out the stems.

Don’t dry the greens before cooking. The residual water will help them wilt as they cook. Bonnie loves to eat them Southern style- cooked in a Crock pot with ham hock, bacon, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.

Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine Grapes are native to the South Eastern US and can be found growing wild in areas ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Delaware. They were America’s first grape according to the USDA — in fact, historians have found written records of Sir Walter Raleigh enjoying these tasty treats as far back as 1584 and it can be inferred that the Native American’s had been enjoying them long before this. Despite its historical roots, this fruit will most likely be new to you! If it is do not worry. To eat you just place the grape with the stem scar facing up towards your mouth and squeeze the contents (or the “meat”) out. The skin and seeds can either be eaten or discarded (but eating them will maximize health benefits).

The best way to store muscadline grapes is to keep them in the refrigerator unwashed and not stacked on top of each other. Keeping them unstacked will help to prevent bruising. Here they can last for 1-2 weeks.

For recipe ideas, check out our Grapes board on Pinterest

Mushrooms

Did you know mushrooms double in size every 24 hours? Talk about a growth spurt! Try storing your mushrooms in a paper bag, which prevents dehydration and allows them to “breathe” in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Mushrooms absorb other flavors so it is best to store them away from strong-smelling foods like your chinese food leftovers from last week. Well, unless you prefer your mushrooms infused with a little Asian flair. Here’s another surprising tip: it’s best not to wash your mushrooms before storing or preparing them. They are extremely porous and will readily absorb the water. Try trimming the stems and lightly dusting them with a pastry brush or rubbing with a damp cloth instead to get off any dirt clinging to the surface.

For recipe ideas, check out our Mushrooms board on Pinterest

Nectarines

Nectarines are peaches’ clean-shaven cousins. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a cross between a peach and a plum but rather just a variety of peach. Like peaches, they most likely originated in China thousands of years ago and ended up in Persia, Greece, and Rome due to trade. Here they were given the name “nectarine”, meaning “sweet as nectar”. Not a bad description! Interesting fact: when planting a nectarine seed, you could end up with a peach bearing tree! And vice versa.

Like their peach cousin, nectarines are also susceptible to “split pits”. This can occur for a number of reasons but does not harm the rest of the fruit or make it inedible. If you find a nectarine with a split pit, just cut away the bad parts in the center and enjoy the rest of the fruit as normal.

Keep ripe nectarines in the coolest part of your refrigerator for up to 5 days in a plastic “Green Bag”. If they are still a little firm, they can be left at room temperature to soften. Once they soften however, be sure to refrigerate them quickly!

For recipe ideas, check out our Nectarines board on Pinterest

Okra

The growing process of okra is quite beautiful. Okra’s plant bears a yellow hibiscus-like flower whose short life consist of only one day before it falls, exposing the immature seed pod that we have come to know as okra. Depending on the variety, the pods could either be ruby red or yellow-green, however the red color disappears while cooking. Okra’s texture is unusual and distinctive due to the mucilaginous juices okra gives off. Some instantly love the slight sliminess of okra while it takes others a while to get used to it. However, even if it takes you a while to appreciate the gummy texture, the slightly sweet flavor is almost universally delicious with the likes of eggplant or asparagus. Because of its hibiscus-like flower it is believed that okra originated in Ethiopia and parts of the Sudan.

For the freshest okra try to eat within a 2-3 days of receiving. Place in a paper bag or a plastic bag with a paper towel in the refrigerator and do not wash until ready to consume as wetness will shorten the storage life. Okra can also be blanched and frozen for storage of up to 10-12 months.

For recipe ideas, check out our Okra board on Pinterest

Onions

There are over 300 varieties of onions and very few are sold by named variety. Rather, onions are generally sold by types. Some of the most common types include: baby onions, red onions, spanish onions, sweet onions, white onions and yellow onions.

The red onion is a mild, sweet-tasting onion with distinctive red skin and pink-tinged white flesh. Red onions are among the best type to eat raw, making them perfect in salads, dressings, salsas, and on sandwiches. About 75 percent of all onions used are the classic brown or yellow-skinned onion. This is a good all-purpose cooking onion, suitable for stewing, frying, roasting, and stuffing. These onions are particularly strong and they are typically not a good choice to use raw.

Store onions in a cool, dry and well-ventilated place; light can cause bitterness so keep them somewhere dark. They readily absorb moisture so avoid leaving them anywhere damp (in a cupboard under a sink, for example) and also, don’t store them near potatoes as these give off moisture and gas and will make onions spoil more rapidly.

For recipe ideas, check out our Onions | Shallots board on Pinterest

Oranges

Oranges are in peak season during the winter months, and with a single orange containing more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, it seems to be right on time.

The Valencia Orange is a classic sweet juicing orange. They tend to have more seeds than other varieties and often have slightly green skin. The red pigmentation of blood oranges vary depending on growing conditions – blood oranges from cooler climates seem to be redder than those from warmer areas.

Oranges can be stored at room temperature for 3 days or will keep for up to 2 weeks in a loosely sealed “Green Bag” in the crisper section of the refrigerator. 

Oranges are great added to winter salads or as a garnish to a hearty dinner. The most underutilized part of the orange is the zest, which encapsulates the fruit’s essence. Use a fine grater to remove only the thin outer layer as the white interior rind is quite bitter.

For recipe ideas, check out our Oranges board on Pinterest

Parsley

Parsley is one of the world’s most versatile and well-used herbs and can be found in much ancient folklore. The Ancient Greeks believed that parsley came from the blood of Archemorus after he was killed in a battle with a dragon. An ancient Roman philosopher once famously wrote that no salad or sauce should ever be served without parsley, he was on to something! In two tablespoons of parsley, there are just three calories and over 153% of your Vitamin K! If you’re ever out of toothpaste don’t fret! Due to parsley’s high chlorophyll levels, it is a natural breath freshener.

Prolonged heating kills the flavor of parsley so it is often added at the end of cooking to preserve its clean, grassy flavor. There are two main varieties of parsley: curly-leafed parsley and flat-leafed Italian parsley – with the latter having a stronger flavor due to the higher levels of essential oils in its leaves.

The best way to store fresh parsley is to trim the stems and place into a glass containing about an inch of water. Then loosely cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate. Be sure to replace the water whenever it get cloudy! Italian parsley can be stored wrapped in damp paper towels, then loosely sealed in a plastic bag. With this method, the parsley should last for 7-10 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Parsley board on Pinterest

Parsnips

The parsnip has a unique sweet-earthy flavor. Parsnips are closely related to carrots and celeriac and have been a food staple for thousands of years. In fact, it was Europe’s preeminent winter vegetable until the potato was introduced in the 18th century. During the Middle Ages, parents even gave their babies a parsnip to suck on when they needed pacifying. Parents – let us know how it works out for you.

Parsnips are commonly used as a roast vegetable to accompany meat or in a mash. However, parsnips need richness to bring out their silky texture and nutty flavor; roasting in butter and olive oil, or baking or pureeing with cream, are ideal. Roasted, cooled parsnips taste great in a salad and they take well to the flavors of nutmeg, Gruyere cheese, ginger, orange, balsamic vinegar and curry.

 Parsnips will keep, refrigerated in a loosely sealed bag (Green Bags) for up to a week.

For recipe ideas, check out our Parsnips board on Pinterest

Pea shoots

Pea Shoots are another veggie that has been prominent in Asian cuisine for many years, but have only recently been making an appearance in the United States. If you are someone who loves peas so much that you cannot wait for them to be in season, pea shoots are for you! Pea shoots offer the same flavor that peas do but can be harvested in as little as 1/4 the time.  Another reason to love pea shoots is that they are high in nutrients and take shape in an adorable curly-cue tendril. If you’ve never had them and are unsure just what to do with them, no worries! When cooked, they have similar properties to those of baby spinach and when raw, they can be used in the same way as watercress.

Storage of pea shoots is really no different than that of any other green. They are best stored in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. They are at their best when eaten within 1-2 days of receiving them.

For recipe ideas, check out our Pea Shoots board on Pinterest

Peaches

When most Americans think of peaches, they think of Georgia. So it may be surprising to find out that peaches are originally from Northwest China where they have been cultivated since at least 1000 B.C.E. In Chinese culture, peaches are a symbol of good luck, protection, and longevity. Peaches have since become a global sensation and the third most popular fruit in the US. If you’re looking for something tasty to make with your peaches try out a peach cobbler recipe … you won’t regret it!

Fresh peaches can be kept at room temperature for three to four days depending on how ripe they are when received. Avoid having them stacked on top of each other (such as in a bowl or bag) as this will increase the chances that they will bruise. Refrigerated peaches may last a day or two longer. Peaches need humidity so make sure to refrigerate in a plastic bag. They may lose some of their flavor due to refrigeration, so allow the peaches to come back to room temperature before eating.

Tip: Though it may seem correct to cut a peach along the natural seam from top to bottom, it is actually much easier to cut it around the equator. Push the knife blade in until you hit the pit and follow around the entire peach. Then just twist each side in opposite directions and the two halves should easily split. This tip changed my world when I discovered I had been cutting peaches wrong my entire life.

For recipe ideas, check out our Peaches board on Pinterest

Plums

Plums are members of the rosaceae, or rose, family. There are over 200 plum varieties that come in a magnificent array of colors— some green or yellow, some pink, red, or dark purple. Their size greatly varies too, coming in sizes as large as a baseball and as small as a cherry. The plum world is vastly diverse and visually stunning. Not only are they a beautiful fruit, but they are extremely nutritious. Plums are a rich sources of Vitamins C and K along with dietary fiber.

A sign of extreme freshness in plums is a sliver, powdery bloom covering the fruit. If you receive plums with this covering, you are eating the freshest plums possible.

If plums do not yet smell fragrant or feel soft to the touch, it is best to store them at room temperature to allow them to ripen (preferably in a paper bag). Once ripe, plums should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a few days. Be gentle and avoid stacking them to avoid bruising! Wash plums before eating. Plums can also be frozen for up to 3-4 months. If freezing, it is best to remove the pits as they can impart a strong bitter-almond aftertaste.

For recipe ideas, check out our Plums board on Pinterest

Potatoes

Potatoes have made an incalculable impact on the global diet. It provides more protein and energy than any other food crop, per unit of land. Only the tubers of potatoes are edible. It was the Spanish explorers that brought the potato from South America into the wider gastronomic world. However, it was originally fed to pigs, until it was discovered that its Vitamin C content could help cure scurvy (they contain more Vitamin C than your average orange). Much of the potatoes nutritional goodness is stored in (or just under) the skin, so don’t peel unless necessary. Alternatively, boil potatoes whole first, in their skins, then cool slightly, peel, and prepare. When boiled or baked whole with skins intact, potatoes retain most of their vitamins and nutrients.

Light and humidity are the enemies of potatoes so store in dark dry conditions. Avoid plastic bags and sunlight at all costs. If stored properly, potatoes will keep for 10-12 weeks. New potatoes, and small, thin-skinned varieties, should not be stored but used quickly within a few days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Potatoes board on Pinterest

Radicchio

Radicchio’s bold color and distinctive bitter taste are often used to accent salads, but is also makes a great addition to cooked dishes as well. It’s often tied to the Veneto region of Italy, where many of its modern varieties were originally cultivated. But according to the ancient Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder, the first Radicchio was cultivated from wild chicory in Egypt. The original Radicchio plant was actually green, the deep purple color of Radicchio was created using a complex technique called “blanching”, where plants are prematurely harvested then placed into a dark room with their roots placed in water.

While most people are familiar with a splash of radicchio in a salad, its bold flavor mellows and sweetens when cooked. Try halving your radicchio, drizzling with olive oil and grilling or sauté strips of raddichio with butter, garlic and prosciutto and toss with spaghetti.

Store radicchio in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Do not wash until ready to be eaten.

For recipe ideas, check out our Radicchio board on Pinterest

Radishes

Radishes have been eaten in some form or another for millennia, making them one of the oldest foods eaten today. Although they are a “root” vegetable, they are actually members of the crucifer, or mustard family, which gives them their characteristic peppery flavor. Their hot, spicy jolt come from enzymes in the skin of the radish making it best to not peel them before use, although sometimes necessary with heartier “Winter” varieties. Radishes are an easy and awesome way to add some flavor and spice to salads with their earthy zing and satisfying crunch.

To store properly, cut off the greens of radishes and place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Use radish greens as soon as possible as they don’t store well. Wash and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.

For recipe ideas, check out our Radishes board on Pinterest

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a relatively new addition to the U.S. food scene. It was used for millennia in China for its medicinal properties before being exported to Europe where it became extremely popular for culinary purposes. In fact, it was so popular at one point in the 1650s that it was two and a half times more expensive than opium and ten times more expensive than cinnamon! Surprisingly, the only edible part of this vegetable is the stalk. The leaves contain indigestible amounts of oxalic acid so should not be eaten.

Always remove the leaves of rhubarb before storage. Rhubarb has a tendency to dry out quickly once harvested. The best way to avoid moisture loss is to place stalks in a sealed plastic bag and place them in the crisper section of the refrigerator where they can last for up to a week. Freezing rhubarb is also possible, just cut rhubarb stalks into one-inch chunks and seal in an airtight bag. They can last for 3-9 months when placed in the coldest part of the freezer.

For recipe ideas, check out our Rhubarb board on Pinterest

Rosemary

Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb from the Mediterranean popularly used on chicken and lamb dishes. It takes its name from the latin words rosmarinus, meaning the “dew of the sea”, most likely referencing the herbs’ favorite growing spot and it’s bright blue flowers that grow in mid-winter. It is an herb that has been used throughout history for its healing power and is the center of many mythical stories (including tales of the Virgin Mary — some believe that the name actually comes from “the rose of mary”). It is a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Rosemary actually contains salicylic acid, the ingredient used in many over-the-counter pain pain relief and acne medications.

When utilized in cooking, fresh rosemary is best used in moderation as its pungent flavor can take over dishes. The “needles” or short, spiky leaves of rosemary do not soften on cooking, so it is best to use entire sprigs, which can be retrieved and discarded before serving. Rosemary is traditionally used with meats such as lamb, pork and game — its digestive properties help with rich flavors. Rosemary goes particularly well with potatoes and mushrooms. Surprisingly, rosemary is also a good accompaniment for a custard or creamy rice pudding as well as pears, peaches and apricots.

To store fresh rosemary, it is best to store in a damp paper towel and place in the refrigerator for 10-14 days. Rosemary could also be placed in a glass of water in the refrigerator. Drying rosemary is a simple and effective way to enhance its shelf life. Simply tie the stems together and hang in a dry, well-ventilated place indoors. Turn every day or two to ensure even drying.

For recipe ideas, check out our Rosemary board on Pinterest

Rutabaga

Rutabaga is also relatively new in the world of vegetables. Interestingly enough, they are the result of a seventeenth-century crossing of turnip with cabbage. Only in the United States are they called rutabagas, the rest of the world knows them as “swede” — which comes from the fact that they are very common in Sweden. Many people confuse them for turnips, however, they are quite different. Turnips, for example, are a very ancient vegetable that is much smaller and more peppery in flavor. Rutabaga is much sweeter and larger than turnips.

Rutabaga can last for more than a month in the refrigerator. Trim off foliage to about an inch off of the crown and avoid getting them wet. For even longer storage, they can be kept in a dry cellar and packed in sand or sawdust for nearly a year.

For recipe ideas, check out our Rutabaga board on Pinterest

Shallots

Shallots are the less pungent relatives of onions, garlic, and chives in the Allium family. Many people, chefs included, prefer the milder and more refined flavor of shallots to onions. Some varieties of shallots can have a slight garlic taste to them! They can be used interchangeably in recipes, depending on your taste preferences, but you can usually get away with adding a tinge more shallots if the recipe calls for onions. Shallots, just like all members of the Allium family, are extremely nutrient-dense and antioxidant rich additions to almost any dish – whether raw or cooked.

Shallots do best in a cool, dark, dry place that’s well ventilated. Given the right conditions, they could last for up to a month! Surprisingly, if stored in the refrigerator, they will only last for about two weeks. If you chose to refrigerate them, wrap them in paper towels to protect them from the light and humidity. Once cut, they should be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For recipe ideas, check out our Onions | Shallots board on Pinterest

Spaghetti Squash

This winter squash is known for its noodle-like flesh. It is somewhat of an oddity in the squash family. The most common preparation is roasting and then scooping out the noodle-like flesh to use as a pasta substitute.

Spaghetti squash can store for up to a month if kept in a cool, well-ventilated spot. Once cut, spaghetti squash is very perishable and should be refrigerated and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Spaghetti Squash board on Pinterest

Spinach

Everyone remembers the cartoon Popeye, right? (Or are we showing our age a bit here?) Popeye made spinach cool and popularized spinach as a health food. Although spinach was mainly popularized because of its high iron content, it is actually an even better source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, and calcium. Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia, and is still eaten in large quantities in that area. The Arabs consider Spinach to be the “prince of vegetables” and it is featured in many traditional recipes.

Spinach should be washed several times to eliminate any muddy residue. Like any other green, they are prone to bruising and leaf damage. Spinach has a longer shelf life than other greens, but for the best quality try to eat them within a few days of receiving.

For recipe ideas, check out our Spinach board on Pinterest

Spring Onions | Scallions | Green Onions

Spring onion, green onion, and scallion are all different members of the onion family with a confusing number of names. Both the scallion and the spring onion are also called the green onion and the names are often used interchangeably. For most home chefs’ purposes, they are similar enough that the differences don’t really matter. What makes spring onions a little different is that they grow a single blub underground while scallions do not grow this bulb and are instead slender and straight. In the kitchen, spring onions are slightly milder than other onions so are great to eat raw and in salads and as a tasty garnish.

Spring onions should be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the crisper section of the refrigerator. They are fairly prone to wilting and so they are best eaten within a few days of receiving.

For recipe ideas, check out our Spring Onions | Scallions | Green Onions board on Pinterest

Sprouts

Sprouts are seeds that have just started to grow. Loosely, there are those sprouts that come from beans and those that are sprouted from vegetable seeds. The most common bean sprouts are mung bean and soybean, while well-known vegetables seed sprouts include radish, cress, alfalfa, and mustard. Both types are typically eaten raw, though some varieties may require lightly cooking (mainly, soybean and mung). The soft, delicate texture of seed sprouts make them perfect in salads or sandwich fillings, while bean sprouts are often added to asian cuisine for a little extra crunch.

Seed sprouts are typically sold in ventilated plastic boxes-keep them in this container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use. Seed sprouts are highly perishable and should be used within 2 days of receiving. Bean sprouts should be stored in a roomy, sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator and used within 2 days of receiving them. Both varieties quickly lose their nutritional content and flavor, so make them an early eat.

For recipe ideas, check out our Sprouts board on Pinterest

Strawberries

Fun fact: Strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds stored on the outside — plus, each berry has an average of 200 seeds! Nothing says “Summer’s on its way!” like fresh strawberries. When you eat a local strawberry compared to a conventional strawberry, there’s a HUGE difference. Local strawberries are much juicer, sweeter, and an all around better experience. Local strawberries will be darker in color revealing their higher nutrient content and the length of time they were allowed to ripen and soak up the sunshine before being shipped off to market. Strawberries, and berries in general, are extremely rich in antioxidants and flavonoid phytochemicals, making them one of the healthiest fruits in the world. However, strawberries are also one of the dirty dozen, meaning that they carry heavy pesticide and chemical residue from the heavy amounts used during conventional farming. Basically, strawberries taste best and should be enjoyed in season. Since they are only available for a short season in late Summer, it is best to gorge yourself with them during that season or preserve as much as possible in jams or by freezing to be used the rest of the year. Frozen strawberries are prefect in smoothies, pies, and other treats!

Strawberries are so sweet, and we all want to make the most of local berry season! However, strawberries can be oh so delicate! Sometimes even in the refrigerator they get mold on them quite easily. We have a few tips on how to extend the shelf life of your berries. The secret: make sure to wash them the right way! All you need for this is water and white vinegar — yes, white vinegar. It will help keep your berries fresher for longer by killing any spores on them. You can’t see the spores, but they’re there, even if mold hasn’t grown yet.

To wash the strawberries, simply prepare a bath of 1 cup white vinegar to 3 cups of water in a large bowl. Gently swish them around to kill any dirt, spores, and bacteria on them. Follow this by rinsing the berries with fresh water in a colander to get rid of the slight vinegar taste. To store them, moisten a paper towel with the water/vinegar mixture, and line the container you plan to store them in. Vinegar washed strawberries will last in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Strawberries board on Pinterest

Sweet Corn

Corn is an ancient crop grown by the indigenous American peoples. Its original name was mahiz meaning “that which sustains us”. The Native Americans venerated corn, believing it to be a food-gift from their gods.

Corn has gotten a bad rep these days from its GMO-laced, monoculture, prototype widely grown throughout the mid-west for ethanol and livestock feed and its ubiquitousness throughout the processed food aisles of the grocery store. Sure, that stuff is probably not good for you or very tasty, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying amazing locally-grown well-loved sweet corn! You’ll be able to taste the difference and your body will thank you! Locally grown corn is packed full of antioxidants and fiber that helps keep your digestive tract healthy, so enjoy it guilt-free. Nothing says “summer” like some fresh sweet corn right off the cob!

Sweet corn contains a greater proportion of sugar to starch than any other vegetable, but as soon as it is picked, the sugars in corn begin converting to starch, reducing sweetness. Corn loses 25% of its sugars within around 24 hours of harvest. Therefore, the best corn is always grown close to home so it can be eaten as soon as possible after harvest and preserve its natural sweetness.

The best way to store corn is the cut off the shank (the knobby part the connects to the stalk) and place into the refrigerator as soon as possible! It’s best to leave the husk on and leave uncovered. Simple as that! Eat within 24 hours of receiving for best flavor but corn can be stored for up to 2-3 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Sweet Corn board on Pinterest

Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is surprisingly not related to the potato at all. They are a member of the morning glory family. There are several hundred different types of sweet potatoes with varying appearances and behaviors when cooked. 

Most sweet potatoes are aged for several weeks to allow their sugars to develop – fresh harvested sweet potatoes are generally not as sweet. You can store your sweet potatoes at room temperature in a well-ventilated area for several weeks. Don’t store your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator.

For recipe ideas, check out our Sweet Potatoes board on Pinterest

Swiss Chard

While many people just cook the leaves and white ribs of chard, in many parts of Europe the tougher stalks are actually considered the most prized part of the plant. Unless these are particularly young and tender though, they are best cooked separately, as they will take longer to cook.

Store Red Chard in a “Green Bag”  in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Before using, soak the leaves in a bowl of water for 30 minutes to perk them up.

For recipe ideas, check out our Swiss Chard board on Pinterest

Tangerines

The name tangerine arose from the name of the Morrocan port city that the first mandarins imported to Europe came through, “Tangiers”. This nomenclature causes confusion today – all tangerines are varieties, sub-varieties, or hybrids of the mandarin, but not all mandarins are tangarines. In general, tangerines have a darker, red-orange skin than non-tangerine types of mandarin.

Tangerines don’t keep as well as other citrus fruits. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or up to 1 week at cool room temperature. Tangerines make a flavorful alternative to orange juice and are worthy additions to fruit salads and compotes. They make fabulous marmalade and can be put to excellent use in homemade ice creams, sorbets, and other ices. Use their zest and juice in baking recipes that usually call for orange and enjoy the fragrant difference.

For recipe ideas, check out our Tangelos/Tangerines board on Pinterest

Tatsoi

Tatsoi is a cool-weather Chinese cabbage. It is a broad-leafed green vegetable, varying in color from pale green to very dark green. When eaten, tatsoi has a somewhat creamy texture and noticeably distinct flavor. Tatsoi is a often compared to spinach as it has a similar appearance and cooking properties. The taste however is completely different, tatsoi being tangy, peppery, and earthy. It pairs well with citrus and crisp flavors such as apple and mint. Tatsoi also pairs well with Umami flavors such as scallops, mushrooms, and miso.

Store tatsoi in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Tatsoi has a short shelf-life and will only last a few days. Store in a plastic “Green Bag” and wait to wash until eating or cooking.

For recipe ideas, check out our Tatsoi board on Pinterest

Thyme

Throughout history, thyme has been the center of folklore. During the Middle Ages, thyme was thought to bring inspiration and courage and was therefore embroidered into the scarves of knights. The Egyptians believed that Thyme had medicinal properties and used it as part of the embalming and mummification process. Thyme is strongly related to fairies according to some folklore — planting thyme in your garden or having some in your tea is said to seduce fairies out of their hiding places!

For an herb, thyme has a fairly long shelf life. The best way to store thyme is to wrap it in a damp paper town and place into a plastic bag in the refrigerator where it can last for up to 10-14 days.

For recipe ideas, check out our Thyme board on Pinterest

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another one of those vegetables that taste SIGNIFICIANTLY better when you get them locally and in season. Most people don’t even know how delicious a tomato should be because all they’ve ever had were tomatoes that have been grown out of season and ripened off the vine. Once you have a tomato the right way, it’s almost impossible to go back. Tomatoes should be associated with the arrival of summer, but due to the year-round supply, that association has been long lost.

Tomatoes should be stored at a cool room temperature. Do not make the mistake of storing them in the refrigerator— that completely diminishes the flavor! If possible, eat tomatoes within a few days of receiving. They will taste much fresher and won’t get the chance to spoil!

For recipe ideas, check out our Tomatoes board on Pinterest

Turnips

Many of us have been wrongly turned off of turnips because of memories of unappetizing boiled turnips. Do not let those memories keep you from enjoying this delightful vegetable! In French and Scottish culture, turnips are a celebrated culinary superstar and American’s could benefit from a few lessons on how to prepare these guys. It is unknown where turnips originated but they grow wildly throughout areas of Asia and Europe. They are one of the oldest foods we eat today – some experts even believe we have been eating them for 5,000 years.

Turnips do not suit well with long storage. The longer they are kept, the more bitter than become, so try to use them within a few days. The greens are edible so if they come with greens, you can cut them and store them in a separate container, store them as you would other greens. The roots should be kept in a plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator and left unwashed until ready to use.

Turnips should be peeled before cooking. Cut them into large chunks and boil in salted water for 15-20 min. Don’t overcook turnips as this will ruin their flavor and texture. Try them raw with dips or in salads, steamed, roasted or in a winter stew. Turnips make a particularly good mash with either potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash or apples.

For recipe ideas, check out our Turnips board on Pinterest

Watercress

The natural habitat of watercress, as its name would suggest, is in countryside streams and brooks. It’s characterized by a tangy, mustard-like flavor. Brimming with vitamins C, A and K, plus potassium, iron, calcium, and copper. When you’re ready to use watercress, pick through the bunch and remove the sprigs and the single, tender stalks that occur further down the central stems. Discard any thick, tough stems and gently wash and pat dry.

Store watercress in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the fridge for up to 2 days, or refrigerate with the stalks placed in water and the leaves loosely covered by a plastic bag.

Watercress is great as a garnish, but also lends itself to various other great uses- pureed into a potato-based soup, tossed into salads, or in a quiche. For more recipe ideas, check out our Watercress board on Pinterest.

 

Watermelon

Some people love watermelon right from the start, for others, it takes a little convincing. A French poet once said “there are three things which cannot support mediocrity — poetry, wine, and melons.” This quote holds true for those of us who have yet to truly enjoy a full flavored watermelon and have only had sub-par supermarket stand ins. The first bite of a locally grown, fully ripened watermelon will completely win you over. All those times you’ve eaten watermelons so dull and tasteless that they mostly tasted like water cannot be mistaken for the true summertime experience of eating fresh, ripe, local watermelon. If this is the case for you, then go find a local watermelon to remedy this situation immediately. This is like missing out on an important part of your childhood!

Despite watermelons tough shell and hardy appearance, they are quite perishable. Watermelons shouldn’t be stored too long, usually 2-5 days in the refrigerator. Once a watermelon is cut, it should be eaten by the next day. If there’s way too much to eat, try cutting the watermelon into cubes and freezing the pieces with ¼ cup of sugar for every 2 cups of watermelon. Place into an airtight container and freeze to be used in smoothies or other recipes calling for watermelon.

For recipe ideas, check out our Watermelon board on Pinterest

Zucchini

Like all squashes, zucchini originated in the Americas, particularly in Central America and Mexico. However, the zucchini varieties we enjoy today were developed in 19th century Italy after squash was introduced by early explorers. The word “zucchini” actually comes from the Italian word “zucchino” meaning “small squash”. Although zucchini is served as a vegetable, it is anatomically a fruit as it comes from a flower. These little guys are great for your waistline, with 95% water they are super low-calorie at just 25 calories per cup. In fact, it has become a health craze to “spiralize” zucchini as a substitute for spaghetti.

Store zucchini in a plastic “Green Bag” in the refrigerator crisper drawer for 4-5 days. Avoid washing or cutting until just before use.

For recipe ideas, check out our Zucchini board on Pinterest

*Much of the information on the history and proper storage of your vegetables comes from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen