Farm to Fridge (or Freezer or Hanging Basket)

farmers market haul
A typical haul from the farmer’s market

Pictures of my farmer’s market hauls on Facebook and Instagram are often my most popular posts. Regularly someone on there will ask how I prep and store my fruit and vegetables so I thought I should write a blog about it. By doing a bit of prep when I return home with my goodies, my week runs smoother and I reduce food waste.

In the haul pictured above, I bought the following:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Pears
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Green beans
  6. Radishes
  7. Potatoes
  8. Onions
  9. Poblano peppers
  10. Jalapeños
  11. Squash
  12. Green cabbage
  13. Celery
  14. Ten pounds ugly tomatoes (pic below)
ugly tomatoes
10 pounds of delicious dry-farmed ugly tomatoes

And This Is What I did with Them

1. Strawberries: Wash, halve and either eat quickly or freeze

I deal with berries first as they turn very quickly. Do not store them in the refrigerator as that will speed up their demise.

I wash berries in a big pot of water. I set some aside to gobble up and with the rest, remove the stems, halve them, spread them out on a cookie sheet and then freeze them. By freezing the berries in a single layer, I don’t wind up with a frozen clumpy mess that I can’t pry apart. Once the berries have frozen, I transfer them to jars for the freezer. I always use wide-mouth jars. I can clean them easily and reach in to grab stuff. More importantly, I have never had one break in the freezer. I once froze some liquid in a narrow-neck bottle, the liquid expanded and the beautiful bottle broke.

I also freeze cherries, blueberries, grapes and peach slices this way. I enjoy the convenience of frozen fruit without the wasteful plastic packaging.

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Washing strawberries
freezing strawberries
Single layer of strawberries in the freezer; I should have bought more…
strawberries in jars
Jars of frozen strawberries

2–3 Apples and pears: Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator

I continue to wash fairly clean produce in the strawberry water. I plopped apples and pears in next. I store those in a hanging basket. When I pack a lunch or want a snack, I just grab a piece of fruit and go. Apples do keep longer in the refrigerator but I rarely buy more than we can eat in a week so I don’t need any type of long-term storage. If I ever own a farm with apple trees, hopefully I’ll also have a cold cellar.

4 Cucumbers: Store at room temperature

Next up, I washed cucumbers. I had been storing them in the refrigerator but when researching a bit for this post, found out that cool temperatures speed up their decomposition. Oops! I’ll put these in my hanging baskets from now on.

5–6 Green beans and radishes: Prep and store in the refrigerator

Next I washed the green beans and radishes in the still-clean water. I trimmed the beans, cut them in half and then put them in a jar in the fridge. I prepped the radishes the same way. Your week will go much smoother if you have some prepped vegetables ready to go. When I buy carrots, I wash them and trim off the ends but wait to chop them until I need them. I find they dry out a little bit if I chop them in advance. I don’t chop onions in advance either for the same reason. I store these vegetables in glass containers and jars.

When I prep vegetables, I save all the little bits and ends and store them in glass jars in the freezer. When I have amassed a large pile of scraps, I make vegetable broth. I haven’t bought vegetable broth in years.

green bean bath
Washing green beans
green beans and bits
Prepped green beans for the refrigerator and green bean ends for the freezer

7–8 Potatoes and onions: Store in a cool dark place away from each other

I saved the dirtiest for last. After I washed the potatoes, I took the water outside and watered my Bougainvillea. Potatoes keep well in a dark, cool place. I store mine in a homemade cloth produce bag in the pantry. The pantry isn’t super cool but it is dark.

Onions I simply pull out of their cloth produce bag and place in my hanging baskets away from potatoes. Potatoes and onions stored in close quarters produce a gas that speeds up their demise.

onions

9–10 Poblano peppers and jalapeños: Store at room temperature

I had been storing these in the refrigerator after washing them but like the cucumbers, apparently peppers deteriorate quicker in there. Good thing I wrote this post and discovered this! So I’ll keep these out of the refrigerator from now on. I’m going to need another hanging basket…

11 Squash

Store in a cool, dark place. I have one sitting on my dining room table at the moment. It looks purdy.

12–13 Green cabbage and celery

I merely store these in the fridge. However later on I did make krautchi—a cross between sauerkraut and kimchi—with the cabbage. In a perfect world, I would have made it at the same time as I prepped everything else but I can do only so much… One of the wonderful things about sauerkraut and krautchi is that once ready, you have a little side dish ready to go stashed away in the refrigerator.

If you want to waste less food, learn how to ferment it (so, so easy!). A cabbage in the refrigerator will eventually rot after a few weeks. Ferment it and it will last for at least a year. Here’s my sauerkraut recipe. My krautchi also contains cabbage, carrots and radishes like my sauerkraut but I also add lots of garlic and ginger and a jalapeño (if in season) or cayenne pepper.

krautchi ingredients
Krautchi ingredients: cabbage, carrots, radishes, garlic, ginger and jalapeno
packed krautchi
Packed krautchi fermenting on day two (notice the bubbles)

14 Tomatoes: Store at room temperature or roast and freeze

I store tomatoes at room temperature. They lose their flavor in the refrigerator. However the 10 pounds I bought would rot on the counter before we would eat it all. I bought a large amount so I could roast and freeze them and enjoy them later out of season. (Ideally, I do this every couple of weeks until I have roasted and frozen loads of tomatoes). These replace canned tomatoes. People often ask me how I survive without canned tomatoes. I don’t buy canned food as the cans are lined with BPA or and alternative that’s just as bad. Plus canned food tastes bad in my opinion.

I buy small dry-farmed tomatoes at the market, half or quarter them, roast them around 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until softened, sweet and roasted. Then I pack them in jars and freeze. That’s about all there is to it, but here’s a separate post on these if you’d like to know more.

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Roasted tomatoes
tomatoes in jars
Jars of roasted tomatoes ready for the freezer

Leafy greens

I didn’t actually buy leafy greens in this particular farmer’s market haul but I often do. I find leafy greens the hardest thing to deal with. I used to have a CSA years ago and usually when I opened the box, I would find a bunch of greens and throw my hands up in the air. I know they’re super healthy but the box often looked like a pile of rabbit food.

For leafy greens like kale and spinach, I’ll soak them in my large container of water, drain them, place them in a cloth produce bag which I take outside and twirl around to dry. I then store the bag in the refrigerator. This saves me SO much time later in the week when I want to make a salad.

prepped kale
Bag ‘o kale

A final note on food storage and prep: If you buy less food, you will waste less food.

23 Comment

  1. Thank you for such an informative post. So many facts here I just didn’t know(eg not storing cucumbers and tomatoes in the fridge, not storing potatoes and onions together etc) and I have been married and a homemaker for 44 years! I will be putting these into practice.

    1. Thanks for that Linda. I’m glad you found the information useful 🙂

  2. I forgot to ask………. What are “dry-farmed” tomatoes?

    1. Oooh, dry farmed tomatoes are delicious. I talked to the vendor about how they grow them. They water them at the time of planting and that’s it! Throughout the growing season, the plants draw water from the soil and air. So they are great for drought-stricken California. And they have an intense, sweet flavor that roasting brings out. They are my favorite tomatoes.

  3. Excellent post, so much great info here. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you found the info useful 🙂

  4. Lots of useful tips here. I never knew peppers and cucumbers shouldn’t go in the fridge. Do you ever dehydrate? It saves so much space. This year I dried tomatoes and made a tomato powder with it. So compact and so useful.

    1. I didn’t know that either Hilda. I had always put peppers and cucumbers in there. OMG your tomato powder sounds fantastic! I did dehydrate some tomatoes last year. They were basically candy, they were so good. I don’t think I got them dry enough to turn into powder. Did you write a post about how you did that? That sounds fantastic.

  5. Another great post Anne Marie!

  6. As long as you leave proper head space in anything with liquid that you freeze, any container will work. I’ve had large mouth jars break because I failed to leave head space. I find at least an inch, if not more, is a good rule of thumb.

    1. I did leave headspace in my bottle but it still broke! Maybe something else was going on…

  7. Gosh this all looks so yummy! A lot of food storage tips I didn’t know about. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for that and for checking out my post 🙂 I’m glad you found the tips useful.

      1. No problem 🙂

  8. Great tips!!! I think there’s something primal about pictures of brightly colored fruits & veggies & that may be why folks love your pix on Instagram… Meanwhile, I’ve taken to Twitter (I know, I put it off forever!!!) and there’s a robust zero waste, ugly fruit, etc. community going on there. If you haven’t checked it out, you might consider jumping in–you have such great ideas in this area. PS, are you pleased about M. Trudeau? 🙂

    1. Thanks Lori. Yes, I’m on Twitter too @ZeroWasteChef. I follow all the ugly fruit peeps on there too.

      Pleased??? I’m basically orgasmic about Justin Trudeau 😉

      1. LOL!!! PS, I’ll follow you on Twitter if you follow me! 😀

      2. Of course I’ll follow you! What’s your handle on there?

      3. Easy peasy: @LoriFontanes Thx so much!!!

  9. […] For market lovers, we found a great article, shared by Askans on Twitter, on how to prepare the fresh produce you have purchased at the market, in order to best preserve and have a hassle free week. Read the article here. […]

  10. Thanks you, This was extremely helpful for me!

    -So do you use anything other than water to wash your produce?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Mya, I’m glad you found the information helpful. I use just water. I’ve written another post since this one with more info on how to store produce. You might like it also: https://zerowastechef.com/2017/01/20/store-produce-without-plastic/
      ~ Anne Marie

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