We have the notion that all farm produce should be stored in the ice box, when in fact some vegetables are best left out of the fridge for optimum storage time.
It seems that not all vegetables are created equal. Read on to find out which fresh veggies should be kept from the chilly confines of the fridge.
1. Lima Beans - Getting its name from Peru’s capital city, they have been grown in the same country for about 8,000 years. The dried beans are best stored in sealed containers or sealable plastic bags in a cool and dry place. Just make sure to monitor the smell. If they start to give off a stale odor, get rid of them.
2. Turnips/Rutabaga - Used as lanterns in Old England when pumpkins were uncommon, these veggies were originally grown as animal feed before graduating to human cuisine. They can be stored out of the fridge and will last for more than a week.
3. Onions - A must-have in savory dishes and at one point in history worshipped by Egyptians, the onion is one of the older known vegetables in the human diet. Onions keep quite well unrefrigerated during winter months. They should be stored well-ventilated. Allowing air circulation by using net bags should keep them edible even after a few weeks!
4. Garlic - Also among the oldest form of agricultural produce, this veggie was once depicted in legend as to have grown from Satan’s left footprint. It is used in almost all types of cuisines. Keep the cloves well-aired in a net bag and they will last for weeks.
5. Peppers - This category includes bell peppers and chili peppers. Keep them cool but do not refrigerate them. How well do you understand your chili? Take this fun little quiz to learn your CIQ (Chili IQ)!
6. Sweet Potatoes - Often confused with yams but belonging to different families, this tuber is one of the principal crops in the world. Notorious for causing flatulence, it is also considered as power food. Best stored in a well-ventilated, cool and dry area.
7. Winter Squash - This variety of squash is best enjoyed when filly mature. Storing this vegetable in a well ventilated area will allow it to be good for about ten days.
8. Jerusalem Artichoke - Like most tubers, these are best left simply on the ground, cushioned with peat moss in boxes while protected from extreme cold. They also last well without light for up to a month.
9. Potatoes - Folklore states that placing an apple with your potatoes will keep them from growing “eyes.” Keeping them in the cellar is best, or simply keep the spuds in any dry, cool place. Colder environments make potatoes sweeter. Exposing them to light and heat simulates an outdoor environment, which will make them sprout.
10. Tomatoes - The refrigerator is a mortal enemy to this garden veggie (which is technically a fruit, of course). The cold takes out its flavor and makes its flesh mealy. Outside tomato season, you can still enjoy tomatoes for months to come by sun-drying them.
This list will help you save space in the fridge to make room for other produce and/or beverages. Be sure to keep track of the times when veggies are put away, as storing them in out-of-the-way places might make you forget you have them in the first place.
Alfablue, September 2012