How to Store Produce Without Plastic

A Drop in the Ocean Online Zero Waste Store How to Store Produce Without Plastic
This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series as three separate emails in May, 2020.


Hey there, friend!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a bit focused on expanding our kitchen-based products over here at A Drop in the Ocean. With so many of us spending extra time in our kitchens, why not make it one of the most sustainable rooms in our homes?

As you read this, I’m working on sewing up some more reusable unpaper towels, one of my favorite vendors is whipping up some Grapefruit + Lemon Liquid Dish Soap, we’ve got new Tacoma-themed Swedish dishcloths, natural loofah sponges, soap dishes for your dish soap bars, a 75% alcohol surface sanitizer spray, our summer seasonal soaps are making their debut June 1*, and most recently, we’ve added Veggie Saver Produce Bags.

*(If you haven’t yet signed up for your very own Seasonal Soaps Subscription Box, now is the time! You’ll get two of each of our seasonal soaps about a week before they’re released to the public, and save $$$!)

If you’re unfamiliar with Veggie Saver Bags, in short, they are magical cotton bags that keep your produce fresh for several weeks beyond its normal shelf life. I decided to bring these into the shop for you after I discovered three-week-old spinach in mine that was still CRISP. They’re seriously magical stuff.

But instead of just telling you about the bags, I want to show you, together, how well they work.

I’ve got my next Imperfect Foods box heading my way this week, and in the box will be a couple bunches of kale. When the box arrives, I’ll add the kale to my Veggie Saver Bag, and document over the next few weeks how it looks. It’s like I’m back in school doing science experiments, and truly I can’t wait to experiment with you!

Now, in the rest of this post, I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite food storage hacks. We’re all trying to limit our contact with the outside world right now, including going to grocery stores, so it’s important to store our produce properly so we can go a little bit longer between grocery trips.

AND did you also know that in the United States, we throw out, on average, 25% of edible food produced? That’s like going to the grocery store, buying four bags of groceries, and then just leaving one in the parking lot.

It’s a waste of time, money, energy, and resources. Let’s change that stat, shall we?

So here are some of my fave tips for zero waste food storage.

If you’ve got limp carrots, celery, asparagus, greens, or broccoli, pop those babies in some ice water in the fridge for a few hours.

They’ll be crisp and crunchy like nothing ever happened.

(This may also work with other veggies, I’ve just only tried it with the ones I listed…)

It sounds insane, I know, but I promise it works. I’ll even do this just a couple of hours before cooking dinner sometimes when I realize my veggies have been improperly stored just a bit too long. Suddenly my carrots that were practically doing backbends are now Bugs Bunny approved.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop

TBH, friend, I’m not totally sure where that analogy came from in my mind but I think it works, don’t you? 🤣

I will note that you want your veggies to be completely submerged in the water or trim the ends like a bouquet of flowers! Otherwise, it won't work nearly as well, and we want to make sure your veggies are happy veggies.

When you first bring home carrots, celery, and asparagus, give them a good rinse and store them in a jar of water.

This will keep them hydrated and at Freshness Level Maximum.

With carrots, make sure you cut off the tops if they’ve got ‘em. This will keep all extra hydration in the carrots themselves rather than the leafy greens. Use the tops for some delicious homemade carrot top pesto so nothing goes to waste!

I also prefer to cut celery into ~4” pieces, so they’re ready to go for spur-of-the-moment snacking. Freshly-ground peanut butter with crisp celery...healthy snack perfection.

It never ceases to amaze me how long my veggies stay fresh just from storing them in a jar of water. Such an easy change for so much more veggie life!

Store fresh herbs like a bouquet of flowers.

Fresh herbs are the real MVP when it comes to cooking at home. They’re also the only plants I’ve ever been successful with keeping alive - and thriving - for an extended period of time. Are you with me on this one, by chance?

Fresh herbs are great dried and stored for the future, but there’s something extra satisfying about throwing some lush, green, herbs into a pan, rather than sprinkling dried leaves over one. But sometimes you can’t use a whole bundle of herbs all at once. So let’s make sure we keep those babies alive as long as possible.

Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to keep them fresh. Simply put them into a glass of water, like a bouquet of flowers, and put the glass into your fridge. (Basil is the one exception to this - keep your bouquet of basil on the counter.)  Not only does this keep your herbs fresh, they also look beautiful in your fridge, like a bundle of green, edible flowers, ready to brighten your day every time you open the fridge door.

One of our EcoWarriors, Eliza, sent me some bonus tips for this one, too. She cuts the ends of the stems before putting them in water, and puts a small plastic bag over the top of them with a rubber band to hold the bag in place. She said the mint sprig she’s been using for two weeks now is actually growing using this method! Thank you for this tip, Eliza!

Veggie Saver Bags are my kitchen MVP!

As promised, over the course of three weeks I documented how a bundle of kale fared in a Veggie Saver Bag - and the results are in! Take a look at this video to see how CRISP my kale is after three weeks of living in a Veggie Saver Bag.

I was sooo skeptical when I first tried these bags, but after using them religiously for so long now, I can't imagine my kitchen without them.

 

So, my friend, I hope that today’s tips have been useful for you. If you give them a shot, take a pic and tag us on Instagram (@adropintheoceanshop)! Or if you have any favorite food storage tips of your own, comment below! Sharing is caring 😊 And now I’m going to get back to sewing these unpaper towels! I hope you have a fantastic week, and that you continue to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay sane.

 


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