Donna's #6

Tips & Tricks

Refrigeration

Refrigerators slow the ripening process, allowing most types of produce to retain freshness longer than foods stored at room temperature. However, not all fruits and vegetables are best served by the moist and chilly confines of the average, American fridge. The cold moisture of even a short trip to the refrigerator can leech the sun-ripened flavor from tomatoes, leaving them bland and tasteless. Instead leave them in a basket on the counter or in a window sill in the sunlight to ripen them more quickly.

Roots and tubers also have different climatic needs than your fridge can provide. If you want to get the longest shelf life of potatoes, turnips, carrots, and onions, don't be tempted to park them in the "vegetable drawer" next to your iceberg lettuce and baby spinach. Ideal conditions are cool and dry storage bins that prevent moisture from accumulating near the veggies. Until recent decades, it was common for homes to have a root cellar specifically for keeping potatoes and turnips fresh well into the winter months.

Thankfully, you don't need a dedicated room or fancy equipment to get a few extra months out of your roots and tubers. Any dark, dry pantry or interior closet will do, as long as it's not a laundry room or near a hot-water heater. We've discovered that panty hose are prefect for storing vidalia onions. Slip several into each nylon leg and hang them up. Alternatively, they can be layered in bundled newspaper and kept under a bed or on a shelf. Sweet potatoes simply need a wire or mesh basket with holes so they can breathe. If you want to get fancy, you can follow the example of some professional chefs and farmers' market vendors. They often add a layer of children's playpit sand to plastic storage bins to wick away moisture from carrots, turnips, and potatoes.