Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Maintaining Freshness and Storing CSA produce

Most of this info is based on a great article on Produce Freshness in “Cook’s Illustrated” from July/August 2008.

As a general rule I wash most of the produce when I get home from pick up. Anything with green leaves, I wash, and spin. I’ll spin other things too, like yesterday I sent the snow peas for a spin to get all the water off. I love my Oxo Salad Spinner. I then put almost everything in a storage bag with a paper towel. This system has worked well for me. This same method was suggested in the article, especially for keeping greens crisp.

And then there are times when you just don’t get to use everything from the share that week or you keep getting the same item and you’d like to save it for later. A friend shared this site years ago and it has been wonderful.
The main things that get frozen from my CSA are herbs I’ve turned into pesto, which pretty much got me through the winter. The other big one was greens we got in the fall, collards and kale. I would cook them down, freeze them, and use them whenever a recipe called for frozen spinach throughout the winter.

So…I’ve wanted to write the following information for a couple weeks, but it just seems so BORING. I’m about to tell you about climate zones in the refrigerator. BUT as the produce rolls in I think the info might be handy to refer back to throughout the season. So feel free to skip this, and catch it when it pertains to a particular veggie when I link back.

Refrigerator Climate Zones
Cold Zone – this zone is located in back, top middle. This is the coldest area and temps can dip below 34 degrees (ever pull out items with ice crystals).
Moderate Zone – this zone is located in the front, middle to bottom. Temps here can go above 37 degrees. Fruits and veggie that need refrigeration but that can be ruined by chill should go here.
Humid Zone – Crispers provide a humid environment that keep produce with a high water content from shriveling and rotting. Too much humidity can also hasten spoilage. To regulate adjust the vents. General rule, more cold air that is let in, the less humidity.

The remainder of the article talks about particular fruits or vegetables. So I’ll just note where each item should be stored as it shows up in my share.

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