CSA 2011

WASTE NOT: How to use up all that produce

If you’re like me, you probably stress a lot about cooking all the food you buy on the weekend before it goes bad over the course of the work week. From menu planning to figuring out where to store produce so it stays fresh in a small apartment, there’s some major organizing involved.

Add a CSA to the mix, and you’ve really got to do some planning!

Turns out I’m not alone. Americans throw out a quarter of the food we buy because it’s gone bad, according to researchers at the University of Arizona.

Anyone who knows me knows that throwing away food is one of my biggest pet peeves, so I decided to do some investigation on how to make sure I get to eat more of the food I buy every week. Today, I found some helpful information from my old friends over at VegetarianTimes.

Turns out things spoil a lot faster if you store them incorrectly, and some strategic thinking can pay off big-time in extending the life of your food. Says VegTimes:

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing incompatible fruits and veggies together. Those that give off high levels of ethylene gas—a ripening agent—will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. Keep the two separate.

How do you do this? A helpful guide:

GAS RELEASERS — REFRIGERATE US RIGHT AWAY

  • apples
  • apricots
  • cantaloupe & honeydew
  • figs

SURE, WE’RE GASSY, BUT DON’T REFRIGERATE US

  • avocados
  • unripe bananas
  • nectarines & peaches
  • pears
  • plums
  • tomatoes

KEEP US AWAY FROM ALL GAS-RELEASERS

  • ripe bananas
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • lettuce & other leafy greens
  • parsley
  • peas
  • peppers
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • watermelon

And some more storage tips:

  • Keep produce whole. One you rip off a stem or cut something up, you’ve begun the breakdown process and spoilage accelerates.
  • Never refrigerate onions (oops!) , potatoes, garlic or winter squash.
  • Don’t seal fruits and vegetables in an air-tight bag; it suffocates them and speeds decay.
  • Take produce home and refrigerate immediately after grocery shopping, or buy a cooler for your car. Delicate items like raspberries simply won’t last.

If all else fails, and you have a lot of produce about to turn? Make a soup…or a frittata….or a fruit pie….or a green smoothie…..or a stir fry….or pasta primavera. The list is endless. Get creative, have fun, and freeze the leftovers!

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