At Sandy Lane Farm we already embrace the knobbly, wonky, slightly misshapen beauty of organically grown veg. We would never throw away a perfectly good carrot for a few blemishes however, we know it’s all too easy to leave a cabbage languishing in the back of the fridge or ignore your chard until it’s droopy and unappetising.
Storing your veg correctly at home is an important part of ensuring it actually makes it onto your plate and not in the food recycling bin. Here are a few hints and tips on how to make the most of our produce.
- SALAD: Salads are tricky to keep in tip top condition, especially when they contain delicate summer herbs. We recommend WASHING the salad as soon as you get it home, drying thoroughly (preferably in a salad spinner) and then storing it in a dry airtight container (lined with damp kitchen roll in the fridge if necessary). The salad will certainly keep for longer than if it stays in it’s bag (particularly as we don’t use any plastic packaging on the farm) and should keep it’s colour and texture. If you forget to store the salad in a container, don’t worry. Just soak the leaves in a bowl of cold water and they will revive & crisp up again.
- CHARD/SPINACH: Similar to the salad, these veg can wilt if left in their bags for too long. Revive the leaves if they start to go limp by submerging in cold water for a few minutes, shake dry and store in a container in the fridge. Some people also recommend lining the container with a clean dry paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
- HERBS: If you have a bunch of herbs, trim the stems (as you would a bunch of flowers) and pop them in a jug of water. This will extend their life by a few days….and make a fragrant centrepiece for the table! You can also arrange them lengthways in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel, rolling them up like a swiss roll, then transferring the bundle to a plastic bag or airtight container and store in the fridge. Too many herbs to use in the summer? Wash them, chop and put into. An ice cube tray. Add some water, freeze and remove when required for little herby ‘flavour bombs’ to add to soups, stews and sauces.
- KALE: Keep this in the fridge. It is more robust than salad and spinach but it’s still a leaf that will start to lose moisture when it’s picked.
- SOFT FRUIT: Put soft fruit in the fridge STRAIGHT AWAY! A peach, for example, can go off in very short space of time if it’s left in a warm place. Keep fruit such as nectarines, plums and kiwis in the fridge as soon as you receive them, particularly in the summer.
- POTATOES: Always store in a cool, dry, dark place. Exposure to light can cause them to go green and rot. Don’t put them in the fridge as that changes the sugar content and can produce potentially harmful chemicals when they cook. Pop in a paper bag if you have one and store in a cool, well ventilated, dark room/cupboard/drawer.
Often easier said than done, but being organised is also key to avoiding food waste…
- PLAN YOUR MENUS: Although planning meals ahead is not always easy, that’s a great way to ensure you’re using all your veg and avoid finding a bag of mouldy tomatoes at the back of the salad drawer!
- PRIORITISE: Eat the soft, leafy veg first. If you have a bag of salad, spinach and chard, make use of these in the three days after you receive them if at all possible. Squash, carrots, cabbage and potatoes etc will always last longer.
And finally, another important tip is this:
- ‘INVESTIGATE' YOUR VEG: While you don’t want to eat anything squishy and smelly, it’s always worth peeling off a wrinkly outer layer or two of a red cabbage (for example) as it may well be perfectly crisp underneath. The same is true of root veg with a few blemishes - if these can be peeled or cut away then you may still have a perfectly edible (and tasty) organic vegetable to enjoy.