It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the Union Square Greenmarket.
I tend to go on Saturday mornings, after a particularly grueling cycling class down the street, and pick up whatever strikes my fancy.
While the greenmarket goodies tend to last longer than their supermarket purchased counterparts, fresh produce only lasts so long.
I was thrilled to stumble upon some tips in the New York Times Dining section this week, on how to prolong the freshness of summer’s vegetable bounty.
Here are a few key tricks to preserving the produce of the season:
Greens, like lettuce, are best washed in advance, dried and stored.
Soft herbs such as basil and soft produce such as mushrooms and berries should be washed when used, as the water will speed spoilage. I find that putting basil in a glass of filtered water that comes a few inches up the stems, keeps it fresh for several days. Frequent readers will note that I am also a big proponent of making pesto, and basil oil while it’s still green and “perky”.
Anything that comes in bunches, should be released from it’s binding, as the closer the vegetables are packed, the faster they will rot.
Leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots and beets should be trimmed to 1” long to prolong freshness but prevent them from drying out.
Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, as the ripening fruit emits ethylene, which damages vegetables.
Some produce will continue to ripen on the counter: stone fruits, melons, mangoes, apples, pears, tomatoes and avocados. Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and berries will only deteriorate.
Bananas ripen quickly, and will speed the ripening of anything they are stored with.
If you can, cut and simply cook vegetables, as they will last longer in the refrigerator that way. Prepare them separately, to allow more flexibility in their use.
Intimidated by the skills needed to slice and dice vegetables? Have no fear.
The specialty market Eataly, just north of Union Square employs a fulltime vegetable butcher who will peel and cut your produce to order.
Photo: Glasshouse Images