Extending the Life of Vegetables

Preserving asparagus – step 1:
Remove an inch or so of the stem.

Asparagus crowns become mushy quickly when the vegetable is tossed in the fridge. I’ve found this storage method extends the freshness of asparagus significantly, taking it from three days of use to six or seven.

First, I cut an inch off of the stems. This is because cut stems form a thin scab over the damaged area that reduces water loss. However, the scab also prevents water from entering the stems and maintaining the firmness of blossoms or leaves. We want to remove the scab.

Next I lay the unwashed stems in a long, Rubbermaid container. I like this  particular container because it has a tray that prevents the stems from contacting the back of the storage box.

Step 2: Place the asparagus in a storage container.

I then wet paper towels so that they are dripping just a little and pack them loosely beneath the cut stems. The asparagus will draw water from the moist toweling.

Step 3: Bunch wet paper towels beneath the cut stems.
The towels should be a bit drippy.

The container is then closed and placed in a standing position in the refrigerator door.

Step 4: Stand the container upright in the refrigerator door.
The paper towels should be at the bottom.

I recut the stems and change the toweling every 48 hours.

I’ve found celery will also stay fresh when stored this way, lasting three weeks or more.

Heads of softening lettuce can be freshened in a similar fashion. At the base of the head, slice a thin section from the stem. Then place the head stem-down in a wide-mouthed storage container or gallon freezer bag.

Next add water to the base of the container or bag—enough to cover the stem, but not enough to touch the leaves. Put the container in the fridge, or stand the plastic bag up in the refrigerator door.

Sometimes broccoli becomes rubbery. To freshen it, slice off a half inch or more from the stem, and place the broccoli stem-down into a wide-mouthed glass. Fill the glass with water, allowing coverage of a third of the stem. Then cover the head, which rests on the mouth of the glass, with a gallon plastic bag and set it in the fridge. In a few hours, break a floret from the broccoli and hear it snap.

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She has a passion for day-hiking and nature, and also enjoys writing. Be sure to visit the TenPaths YouTube channel, which is still in its infancy.

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