Monthly Archives: December 2014

Meet Your Driver–Darryl Johnson

darrylDarryl Johnson, huge fan of Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, a twin, basketball champion, vegetable deliverer. Darryl is originally from Atlantic City, New Jersey and moved down to Raleigh to go to Shaw University. He graduated in 2012 with a degree in videography and journalism and played basketball for Shaw–in 2011 they won the CIAA Championship. He hopes to one day have his own production company and make documentaries that bring to light issues and stories that are not often told.

Since he started working at Papa Spud’s Darryl has found himself even more interested in food; he began noticing different varieties of vegetables and looking them up online to learn more about what they were and how they were different. As a kid his grandmother always made sure he was eating a balanced diet, so he has been aware of and interested in food his whole life. One of his favorite pastimes is fishing, preferably salt water fishing, but any kind will do. I  tend to think of New Jersey as a completely industrial state, but Darryl will be the first to tell you that there is actually quite a bit of undeveloped land. He learned how to clean, gut, and cook fish as a kid and spoke of living near a clam yard where tons of fresh fish and clams were discarded right after they were caught. This only strengthened his appreciation for good, fresh food that has existed since his childhood. “Papa Spud’s produce is just so much better than the grocery store produce,” he went on to discuss working with produce has taught him how dependent we truly are on so many different factors to get high quality produce. We both agreed on how strange it feels to go to the grocery store and get produce that all looks the same and usually has much less flavor than the local, fresh produce we’ve become accustomed to, “I’ve started paying more attention to quality and now I have a higher standard”. I think we all might be more spoiled than we realize with such easy access to delicious vegetables. He enjoys experimenting with different recipes and new kinds of foods—our recent recipe kit of Parmesan Roasted Broccoli has Darryl’s stamp of approval.  When he’s not working or cooking Darryl is a music enthusiast, plays basketball, spends time exploring the great outdoors, and spends time with friends. Maybe one day we’ll all get to see a documentary integrating all of Darryl’s diverse interests. I think knowing that your produce is packed and delivered by people who care and are curious about the food they work with might just make it taste a little bit better. Who knew that basketball-playing, documentary-making, and vegetable-delivering went together so well?

Holiday Sweets and Treats

Nothing screams ‘Holiday Season’ like cookies and warm drinks; as Barbara Johnson said: “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.” I don’t know about you, but this is my attitude during the holidays, and the more interesting recipes I can find, the better. I had a roommate in college who loved to hide surprise ingredients in her (always delicious) desserts such as black beans in her brownies. I’ve recently taken a page out of her book and found a lot of enjoyment in surprise vegetables in desserts. So, in searching for new sweets for this year, I decided to use vegetables that are in season either locally or regionally: sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, oranges, lemons, pears, and apples. I figure adding vegetables to your “balanced” diet can be a little less guilt-inducing and a lot more creativity-inducing. So put on your artistic cap, get out your cutting board, and dive into these delicious recipes.

Cookies

Frosted Carrot Cake Cookies

I love carrot cake, it might be my favorite kind of cake, and it’s healthy (kind of)! What could be better than carrot cake cookies? Other than carrot cake cookies and a bunch of other kinds of delicious cookies, of course…

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg and mix well.
 Add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, salt and mix until completely combined. Fold in carrots (and raisins and walnuts if you are using them). Place spoonfuls of dough on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting. Garnish with chopped walnuts if you want.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together, then add powdered sugar. Add more or less powdered sugar, depending on how thick you want the frosting to be.
Makes about 30 cookies.

Sweet Potato Pie Cookies with Orange Glaze
A southern favorite with a twist! Sweet potatoes are kind of a super-food, high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-reasons-to-love-sweet-potatoes.html) and deliciousness, they should be a regular at our dinner (or dessert) table.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweet potato puree
1 cup chopped pecans
Orange Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle position. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.
Using a hand held mixer cream together the butter, granulated sugar and the brown sugar until light and fluffy and the volume has increased. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Stir in the sweet potato puree and blend until smooth. Beat in the dry ingredients in increments and combine well. Stir in the pecans.
Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges and they spring back from the touch, about 18 minutes. Let cool completely on the cookie sheets before glazing.
For the glaze:
Combine the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Drizzle over the cookies and let harden for 1 hour before serving.
Cook’s Note: If you need to thin the glaze, add more orange juice. If you need to thicken it, add more confectioners’ sugar.

Chocolate Red Velvet Cookies…with a secret ingredient (AKA BEETS!)

I have to admit, I got pretty excited about the idea of putting beets in cookies because they’re delicious and also they make normal looking cookies cool colors, or just one color: pink. But the fun thing about cooking with beets is that kids will have more fun eating the food because of the color, not that this is an issue with cookies…

Makes about 16 large cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup maple sugar, or granulated organic sugar
3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup cooked red organic beet puree
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
12 oz chopped vegan dark chocolate
1 cup dried cherries
[NOTE: Beet puree is very easy to make. You can boil or bake the beets, peel the skin off once they’re cooked, put them in a food processer with water, and puree them until they’re completely smooth]
In a large bowl, combine coconut oil with sugar and whisk until well combined. Beat in the beets, vanilla extract, and agave nectar until well combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, then add to the large bowl, and mix until well combined, then add chocolate and cherries and mix until well distributed.  Place in the fridge to chill until firm (preferably overnight). To bake, Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll balls into about 3 inch balls, and place on prepared cookie sheets a couple inches apart (refrigerate unused dough while baking the other trays). Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until puffed and just starting to brown slightly (but do not overbake!). Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Citrus Shortbread Cookies with a Beet Glaze

As I said before, beets in cookies might be the best idea I’ve heard of in quite a while, so this recipe was especially intriguing to me. I have never heard of a beet glaze before in my life, so I had to try it. It looked cool when I finished but I don’t think I put enough sugar in the glaze. If you like beets then I would recommend this recipe, it definitely still had the beet flavor underneath the sugar and lemon. I, of course, had to test the recipe with some friends, and one of them summed it up perfectly, “it tastes like a biscuit with beet jam.” I want to try it again and experiment with the glaze. I just dipped one side of the cookies in the glaze but I think you could definitely get creative and make pretty designs on the cookies with the glaze.

beetcookies3Yield: 16 cookies
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 + 1 cup powder sugar (more if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 medium size beet
(optional 1 tbs coconut oil + 2 tbs white sugar for roasting the beets)
Directions:
Combine flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
Zest the skin of your lemon, about two teaspoons or so and add to the flour mixture
In a medium size bowl cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in 1/2 sugar and beat for another minute or two. next add the vanilla and beat until mixed. Slowly add the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined. Do not over mix!
Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and press into a disk shape. let refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375F and take the chilled dough and roll it out on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. cut into desired shape and place on a lined cookie sheet, put in the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes. Remove and place in oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.
Glaze:
Preheat your oven to 450F and peel the skin from your beet and cut into quarters (optional: coat them with a bit of coconut oil and a few pinches of sugar before placing them in the oven)
Roast them in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until tender. Remove and let cool completely. Place the cooled beets in a blender with a 1/2 water. Blend on high until the beets form a puree. The important part here is that it’s smooth, no lumps.
Place the remaining 1 cup of confectionaries sugar in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the beet puree and two TBS lemon juice. Whisk until combined and completely smooth, no lumps!  The color of the frosting will lighten and become thicker the more sugar you add so this is all personal preference. If it’s too dark add more sugar, too thick – add more puree.
Frost the cooled cookies with the beet glaze!
One quick tip – use the best quality butter you can find. When there are so few ingredients the taste of the butter really stands out. No butter substitutes, the real deal!

Warm Drinks

One of my favorite things to do during the winter is to curl up on a cold day with a warm drink and a book; I don’t know about you but I’m hoping for a few good snows this winter just to savor this moment even more while watching the snow come down. I found a few interesting recipes that sound like delicious twists on traditional favorites.

Warm Citrus Cider
Cider is one of my favorite drinks once it starts to get cold. I’m always excited to try different additions and flavors in cider and this recipe looked particularly delicious.
Ingredients
1 gal. apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
Garnish: apple slices
Preparation
Bring apple cider, orange juice, lemon juice, orange slices, lemon slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Discard solids. Garnish each serving with an apple slice, if desired. Serve hot.

Mulled Pear and Ginger

For those of you craving a warm drink with a little bit more of a kick, this one might be for you. A little ginger and rum to warm your bones and spice up your evening could be the perfect thing on those frigid nights.
Ingredients
2 litres Cloudy apple juice
2 thumb-sized Ginger pieces, sliced
2 Ripe pears, sliced
2 Cinnamon sticks, plus extra to serve
4 Cardamom pods
3 tbsp Light brown sugar
Juice of 4 limes, zest of 2
500ml Bacardi Gold rum
How to mix
Recipe by Anna Jones
Pour the apple juice into your biggest pan, then add the ginger, pears, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar. Add the zest and juice of the limes, bring everything to the boil and simmer until all of the sugar has dissolved. Serve warm in glasses or mugs, with a good shot of spiced rum and a cinnamon stick.

Meet Your Farmer–Cox Family Farms

This past Friday I had the great pleasure of visiting Cox Family Farms in Goldsboro, NC. Robbie and Janie Cox have been farming together for twenty-six years, their farm just down the road from the family farm Robbie grew up on. Robbie has been farming this particular piece of land himself for forty years. It has been in his family forever and he cleared the land and cultivated it himself. When I asked him why he decided he wanted to farm he replied with a smile: “Because I like it.” He and Janie (and their two sweet farm dogs) were excited to show me around their farm and explain their projects. You’ve seen their vegetables on our order page—bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash—they have about 10 acres in vegetable production, three greenhouses, and two hoop houses.

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Inside of a hoop house
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Outside of a hoop house
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Outside of a greenhouse

The greenhouses are used mostly for growing the cucumbers and starting seeds in the cold months, right now one of them is full of herbs that are drying. Hoop houses are essentially greenhouses that are not heated, often used to get a jumpstart on the season, they warm up to be about two weeks ahead than the crops in the field. For Cox Farms, the red bell peppers do the best in the hoop houses. They water all of their crops with drip irrigation, which is essentially a line of black tape between every row with holes poked through it. It is a more efficient way of watering directly at the base of the plant and in a steady drip instead of a flood. With forty years of farming under his belt, Robbie is an arsenal of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. “When you’re a good farmer your plants will talk to you, they’ll let you know what they need. I go out and look at mine every day.” It takes a long time to learn this stuff—I’ve heard it takes ten years just to feel established and knowledgeable as a farmer, and then you can really start–but you never stop learning and adapting. “I’m still learning every day,” Robbie emphasizes. A really interesting innovation that they use to start a lot of their seeds during the bitter cold winter months is an insulated Maola truck. Heating a greenhouse enough to start seedlings is incredibly expensive, but heating a well-insulated back of an 18-wheeler is not so bad. He has grow lights set up that are on a timer and plenty of space to start all of their seeds for the spring season.

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Robbie Cox explaining his seed-starting method
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The back of the Maola truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is located in their packaging plant, which is a huge open room with a conveyer belt used to grade and sort their vegetables and tons. Off to the side they have their coolers which are enormous walk-ins the size of several rooms that have different sections in them to store their vegetables at the needed temperatures.

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A scale in the “lobby” of the cooler
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Separate rooms within the cooler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Packaging plant

Robbie and Janie once trained racehorses on their land. In their office they have a wall of newspaper clippings of their horses that have traveled more around the country than I have and won different races. But training racehorses is hard work and they decided to shift their focus to their vegetables. This summer they decided to replace their horses with IMG_0186chickens and got 200 Rhode Island Reds mixed with Brown Sussex laying hens, outfitted some old horse stables, and fenced in 5 acres of land. The first thing they showed me when I arrived at the farm was their chicken set-up. Let me tell you, these are some of the happiest and friendliest chickens I have ever seen. They instantly came up to us when we opened the door (probably looking for food) but they even let us pet and hold them (something that not many chickens enjoy). Their nesting boxes are in the horse stables along with wooden planks for them to roost on and food and water. The stables are well ventilated with huge doors, which is important for keeping down the smell and ammonia build-up. There is a large covered, open space for the chickens to scratch around and explore before they are able to open up the coop for them in the mornings, but once they are allowed outside, the chickens run to the sunshine.IMG_0184 Right now the hens are fenced in to a slightly smaller area to keep them from eating the recently sown wheat seed in their grazing area for next season. But they are certainly not going without, their outdoor enclosure is equipped with a section of tall weeds for hawk protection, a big trailer for shade, plenty of space to wander and scratch, and some leftover veggies to munch on. Robbie and Janie love their chickens, their excitement was tangible and contagious. As we discussed the difference between store bought eggs and farm fresh eggs, we decided you can barely compare them: the deep yellow yolk, the strong white, the rich flavor (my mouth is watering just thinking about it). There is always something to be said about farming with compassion, not only is it better for everyone involved but the product is incredible.

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Robbie petting one of his hens
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Robbie showing me how to hold a chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I got to hold a chicken!
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Inside the coop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What struck me the most about visiting Cox Farms was how welcome I felt. Janie instantly greeted me with a hug when I arrived and I left with gifts of eggs and pecans. They are proud of their farm and are happy to show their hard work and lifestyle to those interested. They have customers who will come to the farm to buy directly from them–especially for their famous orange watermelons, which sound like they are worth a trip to Goldsboro. Farming to them is about good connections with their customers and providing good product that they are proud of. They have regulars that come back every week because they’ve gotten to know them, farmers that they know and share knowledge with, businesses (like Papa Spud’s) that they work closely with to reach out in the community. This seems to be the best way to bring a community and people together: good farming and good food. We all have to eat, and farmers like Robbie and Janie are maintaining the spirit of community with their work, all we have to do is join in.

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Janie Cox and I with some of their eggs
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Robbie and Janie Cox (notice the horses and medals behind them)

Storing Your Vegetables

As we begin to enter the colder months, storage will become important. Back in the day when we didn’t have the luxury or ability to eat food out of season, people became dependent on canning and freezing vegetables for the winter. We’ve lost our knowledge of how to stock a pantry for the winter, a skill that I would love to relearn. However, that is just not practical for everyone, for one it is incredibly time consuming. But knowing how to store a little bit of food long-term is very handy. Fortunately, here in NC, we have a fairly long season and quite an abundance of local farmers (and regional suppliers), so storing is not quite as necessary as it once was. But it is still valuable to know different ways to store your produce, how often do you have a little bit too much of something and you can’t finish it before it goes bad? Some common ways of storing produce are freezing, canning, and drying. Freezing and drying herbs are considerably easier than canning, but all are doable for anyone willing to take the time.

Small Pantry

Freezing:

Before you freeze any vegetable it is very important to blanch it, which means you boil it for a certain amount of time (it’s different for every vegetable) and then put it in an ice bath. “Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes which cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. Blanching also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.” source. Bring the water to a boil, add the vegetables to the water, start timing when the water begins to boil again.

Once the vegetables have cooled in the ice bath, take it out to dry on a towel, pack it into plastic bags (try to get as much air out as you can), or whatever container you want to use, and freeze it! Don’t forget to put the date on it in case you find it in the back of your freezer several years down the road.

Blanching time for specific vegetables:
freezing
Broccoli: 3 minutes
Cabbage: 1 ½ minutes
Carrots (diced): 2 minutes
Collards: 3 minutes
Kale: 2 minutes
Potatoes: 5 minutes
Sweet Potatoes: cook completely
Pumpkin/Butternut Squash: cook completely
Rutabagas: 3 minutes
Turnips: 2 minutes

Freezing Fruit: When freezing fruit, blanching is not necessary. You can pack fruit in water, simple syrup, sugar, or dry. I’ve always frozen fruit dry, which means you wash it and cut it into smaller slices, then pack it into the container and freeze. Easy as pie. Go to this website for more information.

Canning:

Canning is a more complex process, but is better than freezing for certain vegetables and if canningyou already have an overstocked freezer, canning could be something to look into. There are two ways to can: water bath and pressure canning. Water bath canning is a slightly simpler method and can be used for jams, jellies, salsas, pickles, relishes, and different kinds of condiments. The food must be more acidic for water bath canning to be safe. Pressure canning is for low-acid foods such as green beans, corn, squash, etc. For in-depth descriptions and video tutorials about canning check out this website.
The great thing about canning is that you can find tons of interesting recipes for different kinds of pickles, fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut, and jams and jellies. These are the best recipes to start canning with because they’re easy and do not require a pressure canner.

Drying Herbs

dryingDrying herbs is almost laughably easy, and fresh herbs go bad so quickly that this can be a very valuable skill to have. Dry herbs retain flavor for 6-12 months and are stronger than fresh herbs. Simply tie the stems together with a twist-tie (so you can tighten it as they begin to shrink), wrap a paper bag with holes in it around the herbs, and hang them upside-down in a warm, well-ventilated place. Check out this article for a more in-depth description and other ways to dry herbs.

Short-Term Storage

ArugulaArugula: Arugula should be kept in a plastic bag to prevent moisture loss, and refrigerated. It will keep for just a few days. Arugula tends to be gritty, so don’t forget to wash it just prior to using. If cooked, it should be added in just the last few minutes to prevent flavor loss and overwilting. Arugula makes a great pizza topping!

lettuceLettuce heads : Lettuce loves moisture. Remove any wilted leaves, and dampen interior remaining leaves. Place in plastic bag, and store in refrigerator. Hearty lettuces like romaine tend to keep the longest, thinner leafed lettuces tend to wilt faster. If lettuce becomes wilted, you can revive it to an extent in a cold water bath. Fill a sink with cold water and a little ice, and submerge the lettuce for 10-15 minutes. The water will be absorbed by the plant, and can revive leaves that are starting to dry out or wilt. However, watch the lettuce carefully to guard against oversaturation and wet-rot.
spinachSpinach: Spinach should be stored in a plastic bag to retain moisture. Spinach is generally rinsed by the farm, so it should have some moisture, but check the bag to make sure that it is not sitting in water. If it is, punch holes in the plastic bag, and drain any excess water. Store spinach in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week.

Baby Bok ChoyPac Choi/Bok Choi: Bok choy is a very versatile green that is commonly steamed, boiled, or stir fried. Full sized bok choy stems should be removed from the leaves and discarded, but baby bok choy stems are usually tender enough for cooking. Baby bok choy stems will likely require a little longer cooking time than leaves, so it is usually a good idea to separate them and cook stems a little longer than the leaves which will just need a few minutes. Boy choy should be refrigerated and will keep for 1-2 weeks.
RED & GOLD BEETS11Beets:
Beet roots will keep best if the greens are separated from the bulbs. However, the greens will keep longest if kept on the bulb, which will provide the greens with moisture. It’s a judgment call as to whether you will do best to remove the greens, or leave them on depending on your uses and timeframes for each. Beet greens will keep for up to a week, whereas bulbs will keep 2-3 weeks, so if in doubt you are probably better off keeping the two together. Beet greens can be used similarly to spinach or chard, and are the most nutritious part of the plant.
Growing head of broccoliBroccoli:
Broccoli should be stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for 4-5 days. Like most vegetables, broccoli will lose moisture as it ages, which you want to protect against, but you also want the broccoli to be able to breathe, so it is not a good idea to enclose it in plastic. A perforated plastic bag, or just an open plastic bag, are usually the best options.
Fresh aromatic herbsBunched Herbs:
Commonly bunched herbs include basil, cilantro, and parsley. Remove band or tie, and pick out any stems or leaves that have been damaged from banding. Snip the base of the stems, wrap in damp paper towels, and store in plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will help herbs to retain moisture, and extend storage life.

cabbageCabbage
: If possible, do not remove outer leaves from cabbage. Outer leaves protect interior from damage and from moisture loss. However, if refrigerator space is an issue, you can remove the outer leaves, and will have a smaller head of cabbage, just know that it won’t keep quite as well. Cabbage can be used in portions, but once you cut into the interior of the cabbage, you will need to wrap the remaining portion tightly in saran wrap. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used raw as in coleslaw or cooked in a variety of ways. Cabbage is a food staple and is used in many types of cuisine.
close up of a row of celeryCelery:
The best way to store celery is to wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate. Alternatively you can cut off the bottom, wrap in a paper towel, and store in a plastic bag. Celery will remain crisp for 2-3 weeks when stored correctly.


carrotsCarrots:
Carrots will keep best if you can avoid moisture loss. Do this by storing carrots in a plastic bag, and by cutting off the greens about an inch or two above the carrots. Carrot greens will suck moisture out of the roots if they are left on. Carrots should also be stored away from fruits, which emit ethylene gas that may cause carrots to develop a bitter taste over time.
CucumbersCucumbers
: Cucumbers should be refrigerated and kept relatively dry. Over exposure to moisture can cause premature deterioration through mold. This is why English Cucumbers are commonly shrink wrapped, and grocery store cucumbers are often finished with a coat of wax. You can check the life of a cucumber by squeezing the ends. The ends generally turn squishy before the rest of the cucumber, so if they feel soft or start to look wrinkled, the cucumber is coming to the end of its storage life.
greensCollards/Kale
: Greens should be placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator. If greens start to look wilted, you can revive them by snipping the base of the stems, filling a tub with cold water, submerging the greens in the water, and placing the water tub in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. The freshly snipped stems will soak up the cold water, and revitalize the greens. Grocery stores commonly use this trick before placing greens on their produce shelves.

green onionGreen Onions: First, go through the bunch of green onions and cut off any smashed or damaged tops. Tops are often damaged in the fields, or during transport, but it is important to “prune” them before storage so that they do not accelerate deterioration on the rest of the bunch. Green onions will start to lose moisture and wilt in just a few days, so it is best to store them in a plastic bag, prior to placing in the refrigerator.
potatoesPotatoes/Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes and potatoes should be stored at room temperature. They often keep for over 6 months, just don’t forget about them!

 

Selection of pumpkin and squashPumpkin/Butternut Squash: Squash will quickly go bad if stored in temperatures lower than 55, it is best stored in a cool, dark place like a cabinet. Length of storage life varies for different varieties; acorn squash will last about a month, butternut 2-3 months, spaghetti 4-5 weeks, pumpkins 2-3 months.

radishes from gardenRadishes
: Remove tops from radishes to prevent moisture loss. Radishes should be stored in the refrigerator, and will keep for up to a week. Radishes have a peppery flavor that usually goes well in salads or in appetizers. A simple radish appetizers includes sliced radishes served with melted butter and salt on the side. The peppery flavor is most concentrated in the radish skin, so they can be peeled for a milder flavor. Radish greens can also be used raw in salads, or cooked as you would other greens.
Swedes at the Greengrocers.Rutabagas:
Rutabagas have a sweet taste, without the peppery undertones of turnips. They should be refrigerated, and generally last longer than turnips as their thicker skins protect better from moisture loss. Rutabagas should be peeled before using. Roasting will concentrate their flavor, while boiling will dilute it. Look to Northern and Eastern Europe for inspiration on rutabaga cuisine.
Fresh white turnipTurnips:
Turnips have a sweet, slightly peppery taste. They should be stored in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag to prevent moisture loss. Smaller turnips are sweeter, and more tender, but tend to lose moisture and go bad the quickest. Use small turnips first. Larger turnips are not quite as tender, and will need to be peeled, but will keep for 1-2 weeks. If the greens are attached, remove them and store them separately, as they will suck moisture out of the turnip root.
applesApples:
Each variety of apple will have a different storage life, some will stay crisp longer than others. Apples will keep longest when stored in the refrigerator. To prevent moisture loss while in the refrigerator, store apples in a plastic bag. Most varieties will keep 2-3 weeks if stored in the refrigerator. Apples can also be stored at room temperature, but may only keep up to 7 days before they start to turn soft or mealy.
strawberriesStrawberries
: Check for any damaged or bruised strawberries, and remove them from the container. Damaged fruits release ethylene gas which signals other fruits to ripen at a faster rate. This means that one bad apple really does spoil the bunch. Berries can go bad quite quickly, so make sure they are covered, and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. However, strawberries will be at their juiciest at room temperature, so if possible bring them to room temperature prior to consuming.