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Live Better

How to store fresh produce Add to ...

No need to stock up on Green Giant packages when there's so much fresh produce in grocery stores, farmer's markets and your own backyard. We explain how to safely store the bounty.

Root vegetables

Potatoes, beets, turnips and carrots will be the hardiest of anything you'll bring home from the farmer's market, so feel free to stock up - they'll last several weeks, says Janice Revell, co-founder of the food safety site StillTasty.com.

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Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place but not the refrigerator.

"They're starchy and if you put them in the cold refrigerator, [the starch] will turn into sugar and the taste will go out," she says.

Other root vegetables should go straight into the fridge and will probably last between two and four weeks. You can revive limp carrots in a glass of water, but you will eventually have to chuck them.

"The signs are pretty evident," Ms. Revell says. "They'll get rotten and smell bad."

Greens

Delicate greens such as butterhead lettuce will spoil quickly so know that even after you put them in the fridge, they should be consumed within three to four days. Hardier greens such as romaine or leaf lettuce will last about a week when refrigerated.

Ms. Revell recommends against washing your greens right when you bring them home, unless you plan on using them right away.

"Washing them will hasten the rate at which they decay - the moisture does that," she says.

While the kale and rapini you don't normally eat may beckon to you from the farmer's market table, resist the urge to buy if you don't know what you'll do with it, Ms. Revell says.

"People over-buy without realizing how quickly some of these things will spoil."

Fruit

As soon as you bring berries home, put them in the refrigerator, Ms. Revell advises. They won't ripen any further than they already have and will spoil quickly at room temperature.

Check up on them and throw out the ones that look hairy, squishy or just plain ugly.

"As soon as you see something going bad, like raspberries for instance, you've got to discard them right away because the mould will spread really quickly," Ms. Revell adds.

Pears, peaches and apricots, on the other hand, can usually use a few days out to ripen before they can be eaten. Putting them right in the fridge can trap them in that hard, mealy state.

If your fruit is on the brink of going bad, freeze it in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag.

Herbs

When you had the brilliant plan to grow your own dill, rosemary and oregano this summer, you didn't anticipate just how much you'd yield. Rather than letting it spoil or forcing it on your neighbours, freeze it, Ms. Revell suggests.

You can do this by putting cleaned and dried herbs into a tightly-sealed freezer bag, or you can make individual portions.

If you use herbs in sauces, you can store them by dropping a teaspoon or tablespoon's worth into one section of an ice cube tray, fill it with water, and then freeze it.

"Then you have little herb ice cubes and you can throw it right in [whatever you're cooking]and it's a nice portion size," Ms. Revell says.

*And don't do this: store your potatoes beside the onions - the chemical reaction between the two will lead to off-tastes and faster decay

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