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Gulf Today Report
Winter is around the corner – make the most of your cold-weather produce by storing it properly, says
While we most often celebrate the bounty of produce that is summer, there are a lot of autumn and winter fruits and vegetables to love as well. Once warm-weather favourites, such as peaches, tomatoes and corn, are on their way out, we’re greeted with a colourful array of pears, apples, winter squash and greens, plus the citrus that populates many a gift basket.
Here are tips for taking care of some of the specific types of produce you’ll get in cooler weather according to Cindy Tong, a professor and extension post-harvest horticulturist at the University of Minnesota.
It does best in a cool, dark and dry spot that allows for plenty of air circulation. Tong recommends a kitchen cabinet or basement, as long as it’s not close to the heater. In the refrigerator, squash will start to pit from the cold, so store it there only once it’s cut. Properly stored, squash can be kept around for at least a month or two, with thinner-skinned varieties, such as acorn, not lasting as long as thicker, such as Hubbard.
Apples and pears
Apples can go straight into the fridge, ideally the crisper drawer with the vent open or a low-humidity one for fruit, where they will keep for four to six weeks. Apples produce ethylene, which can trigger ripening and, eventually, rot in some other produce, which is why it’s often advised to keep them separate from many other fruits and vegetables.
Pears, except Asian varieties, do not ripen on the tree, so you typically need to ripen them on the counter. Once they give to gentle pressure around the neck, pop them in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
Cool and moist, but not sopping wet, is the best environment for such greens as kale, collards and chard. Store them in a plastic bag, wrapped in a damp paper towel if you like, in the fridge crisper drawer that is higher humidity (without any vents or with the vents closed). You can achieve a similar effect with a more eco-friendly alternative, such as reusable produce bags.
Just keep in mind that too much moisture can contribute to rot. Otherwise, expect hardy greens to last about two weeks in the fridge, though it’s always best to use them sooner rather than later.
Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts need a cool, damp environment, but packing them in an airtight bag or container can encourage mould growth. Keep them in a partially open, loose or perforated plastic bag or something more breathable, such as a produce bag, also in the high-humidity drawer.
They “store for a long time”, Tong says. Ensure they live up to that by separating any greens attached to such roots as beets, carrots and turnips as soon as you bring them home, leaving about 1.5cm on the vegetables (leaving the entire tops on will suck moisture out of the vegetables). To prevent moisture loss, refrigerate beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips and swedes in plastic bags in the high-humidity crisper drawer or in a produce bag or similar product. They’ll last at least two weeks that way.
Keeping them in a dark spot will help prevent them from turning green. Aim for a cool, well-ventilated space, such as a basement, root cellar or cupboard. In the fridge, the damp air can encourage the conversion of starches into sugars, which is often not desirable for texture, flavour or colour (ie, fried potatoes will get very dark).
Outside the fridge, stave off sprouting by separating potatoes from such ethylene producers as apples and onions. Depending on conditions, potatoes in the pantry will last from a few weeks to two months.
It generally does well in the fridge. Oranges and grapefruit can be left loose or in a breathable bag, such as mesh, to allow for air circulation, though storing in the high-humidity drawer is helpful for preventing moisture loss. Expect them to last a month or two. As Cook’s Illustrated found, lemons can be left loose in the fridge as well, though they will begin to lose moisture after about a week.
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