The Basics of Storing Vegetables: Keep Veggies Fresh For Longer Time

how to store vegetables

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Storing vegetables properly is a very important part of practicing gardening. You can’t ignore the importance of storing vegetables just because you are doing very well in gardening.

All our efforts for producing good quality crops will be wasted if the vegetables are not stored properly. This article will give you some tips on how you can store your garden yields properly.

While storing fresh vegetables consider two main points.

  1. Loss of Water
  2. Respiration rate

The meaning of proper storage is to place the harvested vegetables in an environment where essential life processes like respiration can continue at a very slow rate and the water loss can be minimal.

How to Prevent Loss of Water in Storing Vegetables:

Preventing water loss is one of the important factors in storing vegetables. Water loss can cause wilted and dull-looking vegetables. Storing in low temperatures with high humidity will prevent the vegetables from losing water.

Respiration of the vegetable is another reason which you need to take into consideration while storing. The rate of respiration varies with the water content of the vegetables.

For example, at a given temperature leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce will respire more than potato or carrots. The rate is also higher in immature vegetables.

During respiration, oxygen is absorbed and sugar present within the cells breaks down into energy, Carbon Dioxide, water, and heat.

To keep the vegetables in a proper edible condition you have to hold the respiration rate at a very low level.

How to Slow Down The Respiration Rate of Stored Vegetables:

You can slow down the respiration level by reducing the oxygen level. This is done by keeping the vegetables in perforated plastic bags or by covering the pot in which the vegetables are kept.

Please don’t use total airtight containers these will stop the respiration process entirely and the vegetables will not be as tasteful as it should be.

How to Store Vegetables in A Refrigerator:

We usually store vegetables in refrigerators. The refrigerators keep the temperature usually uniform but the temperature may vary within different compartments.

In most cases, the temperature is lowest just beneath the freezer.  This causes the warmer air to circulate around the side. This air is also sometimes lower in humidity and thus causes any uncovered vegetables to dry out.

For the storing purposes the vegetables are divided into four groups:

Group 1: these vegetables are the most sensitive to temperature and humidity. These have the highest respiration rate and water loss can be huge if not taken proper care of.

They should be stored in 30-40 deg F and 90% humidity. It can be subdivided into group A and group B.

Group A: Lettuce, Spinach, green onions, Swiss chard etc.

Group B: Broccoli, beet, Cabbage, Celery, Radishes etc.

Group A vegetables are best stored when kept in crisper state and washed before storing. Store Group B vegetables in plastic bags or containers and keep them in the main compartment of the refrigerator.

Group 2: These types of vegetables are little less sensitive to temperature but very sensitive to humidity. Storing these vegetables requires 40-50 deg F temperature and 90-95% humidity.

store bell peppers

Though most of the time it is not possible to maintain such a customized temperature and humidity, don’t keep these vegetables in the refrigerator for more than 7 days.

Vegetables such as Bell peppers, Cucumbers, Squash, ripe Melons, etc. are included in this category.

Group 3: Vegetables such as ripe tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Okra, Eggplants are included in group 3. These vegetables are prone to chilling injury.

store tomatoes

The ideal temperature for storing is 60 deg F You don’t need to put them inside the refrigerator for storing. Rather it is better to keep them in a cool and dark place.  

Group 4: Dry Garlic, melons are grouped in this group. Store them where there is an absence of direct sunlight.

Another piece of advice, don’t store many ripen food together with fresh vegetables. Ripen fruit emit ethylene gas. It will cause the vegetables to become yellow, sprout the potatoes and cause bitterness in carrots.

I hope you have gained some information through this article. If you like the article please share it with others.

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Hi there! My name is Prasenjit and I’m an avid gardener and someone who has grown a passion for growing plants. From my hands-on experience, I have learned what works and what doesn't. Here I share everything I have learned.

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