As you flip through the pages of Food52’s new cookbook Mighty Salads, you’ll notice right away that fresh produce is at the heart of any mighty salad—whether it’s a leafy salad strewn with grilled mushrooms and figs, a couscous salad that puts spring’s best baby artichokes center stage, or a steak salad made whimsical by a tangle of peppery greens, herbs, and charred red onions.
Shopping for beautiful produce is often the easy (and fun) part, especially at the height of the growing season when farmers markets are spilling over with ripe peaches, fat tomatoes, and zucchinis galore. But after you get your bounty home, that’s when reality sinks in. You may wonder: What was I thinking? I bought enough produce for a family of eight, not four! How can I fit all of this into my refrigerator? Should I just take a nap now?
I faced these questions many times over in the process of developing new recipes for Mighty Salads. Before diving into this project, I was a little lackadaisical about produce storage. But with 30 recipes to create (and test, and test again) over a six-month period, I had to be more intentional about creating strategies that allowed me to do my shopping over the weekends, and make Mighty Salads all week long.
While I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules for produce storage, there are good rules-of-thumbs to follow. My approach begins with two similar but distinct questions:
1. What steps need to be taken as soon as I get my produce home (e.g. washing)?
2. What is the best storage method for each type of produce to ensure maximum freshness?
You've made it home from the farmer's market or the grocery store. Here's what you need to know:
There are three places to store produce: the fridge, the countertop, or a cool room or pantry. Each fruit or vegetable has its own preferred place.
Lettuce and all kinds of leafy greens, artichokes, asparagus, beets, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, corn, cucumbers, fennel, green beans, herbs (except basil), leeks, mushrooms, okra, peas, peppers, radicchio, radishes, turnips, scallions, zucchini
Most vegetables need a slightly humid yet breathable environment to stay fresh, and are happier if stored in something versus tossed in the fridge. (Note: If your tender greens still have the roots attached, wrap them in a damp paper towel before storing them.) Below are three storage options for the fridge that all work.
Once you've decided on your storage vessel, into the fridge your produce goes. But not all areas of the fridge are created equal, and there is a strategy to using the space wisely.
And a few more handy tips for refrigerator storage:
Avocados, basil, bananas, citrus, eggplant, non-cherry stone fruit, pears, pineapple, mangoes, melons, tomatoes
Apples, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, shallots, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squashes
Even when fastidiously following all of these rules-of-thumb, life just has a habit of getting in the way. If you open your fridge to discover wilting greens or produce that’s quickly going downhill (but hasn’t spoiled or gone slimy), you still have options!
Here are a few ways to use up less-than-mighty produce:
What are your first steps when getting produce home from the market or grocery store?