From the Garden to the Table: Keep the Vegetables Longer
Cultivating the vegetable garden is a job that gives great, great satisfaction and in the best of cases, we are rewarded with a flourishing and abundant harvest. But how can we organize ourselves better when we collect zucchini, aubergines, pumpkins, and salad at will?
The first rule is: don’t waste! Waste is strictly prohibited. First of all, because it would not make sense to throw away the fruit of your work and so much effort. And secondly … well, you certainly don’t want to throw organic and 0 km grown vegetables, do you?
Of course, when the harvest is particularly abundant this can become a problem. The space inside the home, and above all inside the refrigerator, is what it is and you have to find the world to organize everything better.
Begin like this: don’t be mean and give excess vegetables to family and friends. It is certainly a nice gesture and a good opportunity to let them taste the goodness of the products of the land grown in their garden, in a much more genuine and organic way. Once the surpluses have been eliminated, the time has come to preserve and, above all, to discover some little tricks to keep the vegetables longer. Here’s how to do it!
Long live garden products!
In particularly abundant seasons, such as summer, for example, it is useful and precious to know how the life of our vegetables could literally be extended. Small tricks, of course, to keep well and better in the refrigerator, but also tips for storing vegetables cooked and already cut in the freezer. Because the freezer is not always our enemy, on the contrary!
But let’s proceed in order and with a certain criterion, starting from the single types of vegetables. Here is all you need to know to keep your best and never waste the products of the garden.
Carrots are fairly long-lived vegetables, at least compared to many others. They resist well in the refrigerator, even for several weeks, but knowing a few little tricks to make them last even longer never hurts. Then cut the tops of the carrots and keep them in the refrigerator in a closed container.
Celery is more delicate down, resists for less time and freezing it will not help you much if you are a lover of fresh flavors. So put it in a shallow cup with water inside and keep it to extend the life of a few days.
Do not freeze it, if you do not want to throw it away when you try to defrost it: celery is a vegetable that, by itself, contains a lot of water and freezing it means collapsing it … a bit like when we give too much water to succulents: here, the principle is more ‘or less the same!
Try never to make zucchini go bad. When these vegetables are no longer good they give off a decidedly unpleasant odor, which manages to affect the entire refrigerator without mercy. So, try to avoid!
Zucchini has good resistance for a few days, as long as they are well-preserved in the refrigerator. If you have them in large quantities, before placing them in the refrigerator, wrap them in a clean cloth.
The pumpkin lasts a long time, but the more time passes, the more it hardens. Here there is only one solution: cut it into pieces when it is still soft and freeze it, even in large quantities: you will find it much less difficult to cut it when it is still soft. And don’t throw away the seeds: they are an excellent snack and, if necessary, they can also become the perfect salad dressing.
Place them in the refrigerator, following the same procedure that we have indicated for zucchini and, very importantly, do not wash them until you have to consume them.
Cut the tops and then keep them in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp cloth and inside a container.
Onions, garlic and shallots
In this case, there is only one thing to do if you want to keep well and long: to place in a dark and cool place.
Tomatoes keep well in the refrigerator, inside a container. But even in this case, try to consume them within a few weeks. And if there are really too many … well, keep everyone!
Try to ensure the right amount of moisture for the peppers, at least until the time of use. Place them in the refrigerator and take a look from time to time, to make sure they are not “denting”.
What about waste?
The philosophy of the garden is that nothing is thrown away because as Mother Nature teaches us, everything can be useful. So, if careful storage and removal of leaves, buds, and roots are required to store several vegetables, this does not mean that waste should be thrown away.
No, put them aside and keep them for compost. Or, leave them in the garden, in the open ground, and wait for nature to take its course by absorbing these wastes to transform them into further nutrients.
The freezer: a valid ally
It is always thought that freezing makes products lose their authenticity, but in reality, freezing vegetables is one of the best ways to preserve them and the ideal preservation method to keep vegetables fresh and ready for use, without affecting their nutritional values.
Almost all green vegetables can be frozen, except cabbage, cucumbers, celery, radishes or all types of lettuce: in fact, these vegetables have a high concentration of water and once thawed they would appear soft and loaded with water. In short, in this case, it is definitely better to avoid it!
If, on the other hand, you want to keep the cooked vegetables in the freezer, you must first cool them down to remove the water they contain. Always keep in mind, as far as cooked vegetables are concerned, that they should not remain in the freezer for more than two weeks and that when you thaw them you will have to put them immediately in the pot to heat.
Other valid solutions for storing and freezing cooked and raw vegetables are vacuum- sealed and traditional airtight containers, to be chosen exclusively with valid characteristics for the storage and freezing of cooked vegetables.
How to store already cut vegetables
Cutting vegetables is a very time-consuming operation and cutting vegetables before cooking is a great way to prevent them from spoiling or turning black. In addition, if we are always in a rush and especially in the evening, there is always little time to devote to the kitchen, having the vegetables already cut and ready to be cooked is a great convenience!
If the cooking will take place after a few hours, one of the most used tricks is to cut the vegetables and put them in the fridge in containers lined with wet paper, such as absorbent paper or a damp cloth. But if more than two days go by, run for cover and freeze everything for safety!