Part 1: To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate…that is the question!
Does this story sound familiar?
You receive your box of beautiful AHO produce and are overcome with excitement. It’s like receiving a birthday present every week. You peel back the brown paper cover and see juicy pieces of FRUIT…sweet mouthwatering crisp CORN…BRIGHT RED shiny tomatoes, and uncontrollably exclaim…oOOh…AAhhh…Yum! But after this initial excitement subsides and you arrive home with your box and enter your kitchen, reality sets in and you are hit with the anxious feeling of…WHAT DO I DO NOW !
First…take a deep breath, put down any sharp objects you might be wielding… and relax. You are not alone and we are here to help! Today we are going to tackle the common mistake of “to refrigerate or not to refrigerate.” It’s not surprising that our first instinct is to always put something in the fridge or even the freezer. Cold often implies longevity. For produce, however, this is not always the case, and since we here at AHO care very much that you enjoy every last piece of produce that comes in your box, we offer you a quick list of the most common summer produce that should be refrigerated, and produce that prefers it a little ‘warmer.’
Not to Refrigerate:
Onions: Onions like it cool and dry and need space to breathe. Place them in a dark, well-ventilated ared in single layers. Choose and store pearl and boiler onions in a similar fashion. If your onions begin to show signs of sprouting, cut away the sprouts and use them immediately. Resist the urge to store them with potatoes as they give off gases that speed the decay of potatoes.
Potatoes: Prefer cool and humid temperatures around 45-50°F, but if you put them in the fridge this speeds the breakdown of starch in the potatoes and creates a darker color when they are cooked. The best way to store them is to place them in a burlap, brown paper, or perforated plastic bag in a dark, cool place that is still well ventilated. In this manner potatoes can last up to three months. Try to keep potatoes away from ethylene producing produce like onions as this will cause faster decay of the potato. New potatoes should be used within one week of purchase for optimal taste. Sweet Potatoes should be stored between 55°F and 65°F in a dark, dry, cool place, for up to one month, or used within one week if stored at room temperature.
Whole Tomatoes: Prefer room temperature and will keep for up to three days if sealed in a paper bag.
Whole Melon (Unripe): Unripe melons do best at room temperature away from ethylene producing produce. When ripe, or cut, transfer them to the fridge.
Stone Fruit (just picked): Stone fruit continues to ripen after it has been harvested, and will only need a day or two to fully ripen at room temperature. Be sure to keep it dry as moisture is the enemy of unripe organic fruit. Once the fruit has ripened, transfer it to the fridge.
Cucumbers: Will last up to a week if stored in the fridge in a plastic bag at a temperature between 45-50°F.
Eggplants: Prefer temperatures between 46-54°F and do not prefer the company of produce that releases large amounts of ethylene as this causes them to break down quicker. To prevent this, store them at the front of the fridge in a plastic bag and they will keep up to five days.
Green Beans: These veggies are most ideal when they are crisp, so store them in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper box in your fridge and they will keep up to five days. They are best enjoyed within the first two to three days.
Summer Squash: Squash like temperatures to be cool and humid, around 41-50°F. Place them in a perforated bag in the fridge and they will keep up to a week.
Corn (with Husk on): Corn likes it cool and its husk serves as a seal to keep the corn tasting fresh. Leave the husk on until you are ready to prepare it. Putting it in the fridge will help it last around five days.
Corn (shucked): If the kernels are showing then it should be refrigerated in a perforated plastic bag. If you aren’t planning on serving it within a few days, shucked corn blanched in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes, cooled and frozen right away will keep for months.
Chili Peppers: While hot to taste, chili peppers prefer cooler temps (interesting huh!?). Place them in the fridge wrapped in a dry paper towel and they will keep up to three weeks.
Sweet Peppers: Prefer cooler temperatures around 45-50°F. They are also quite sensitive to ethylene so be sure to keep them dry in a plastic bag far from these items and they will last up to five days.
Cut Tomatoes: Once tomatoes have been cut it’s best to refrigerate them. For best taste, try letting them reach room temperature before serving.
Ripe or Cut Melon: At this stage melons prefer colder temperatures between 40-45°F and will keep for around three days. Leaving the seeds in a cut melon and protecting it with plastic wrap will help preserve moisture and flavor.
Stone Fruit (Ripe): Once your fruit has ripened to your liking, place it in a single layer in the fridge, or seal it in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel to retain moisture.