Question: What’s worse than wilted, mushy, refrigerator lettuce stored in single-use plastic? Answer: Nothing. Over the last few years, I’ve been slowly swapping out my single-use food storage items for more sustainable options. One surprising benefit (aside from… you know, saving the planet) is that my produce keeps fresh longer! Not only am I reducing my single-use plastic but I’m no longer throwing out a bag of mushy refrigerator lettuce at the end of the week, either. Talk about a win-win. Here are some of my favorite tips for how to store leafy greens and other produce without using plastic.
Glass container and jars or salad spinners
The name of the game with how to store leafy greens is: airtight. When I come home from the grocery store I rinse all of my leafy greens and either spin or pat them dry. A little moisture left on the leaf is okay. Then I store the greens right in the salad spinner, and they will last way longer than you’d expect. The leftover moisture in the bottom that’s not touching the greens help keep them crisp. You can choose a fully plastic-free option by opting for glass containers with bamboo lids.
There are many produce bags on the market that come in mesh style or solid cotton/muslin fabric. I like these bags because they are washable and serve double duty as storage bags as well as grocery produce bags. For storage, I wrap produce like arugula in a dry towel and store it in a mesh bag and find that it stays crisper. I’ll also use these bags to store snap peas and spinach.
Ever wonder why you see asparagus at the grocery store, sitting upright in a few inches of water? It’s the same reason we place cut flowers in vases of water and add water to our Christmas tree stands after the tree is set in place. If used in the correct way, water can keep many types of produce fresh for longer. Celery, for instance, stores great when it’s upright on the counter in a cup or bowl of shallow water. When thinking about how to store leafy greens like kale and collards, water works best! Store these veggies upright in a cup of water on the counter or refrigerator. Carrots like water too and can be stored by chopping off the tops and placing them in an airtight container with plenty of moisture and dunking them in cold water every few days.
Dark and Dry
Leave the fridge out of it! Some produce does better in a cool, dark corner of your pantry. Vegetables like garlic, onions, potatoes, and winter squash do best in a crate or basket set in a cool, dark place. These vegetables prefer low moisture and a bit of air circulation too. Mesh storage bags work well for storing pantry produce, or you can splurge for stackable crates.
Mind your beeswax! No, but really! Beeswax wraps are an eco-friendly solution that replaces single-use plastic wrap and plastic storage bags. I find the beeswax wrap perfect for storing produce that has been cut into already. Storing half of an avocado or lime couldn’t be easier with this moldable cloth. Another great use is to divvy up berries and grapes into individual snack sizes using beeswax wraps, perfect for school lunches. This wrap also makes a good cover for mason jars and other glass bottles. You can make your own wraps or purchase a set. Beeswax wraps last about a year and then are fully biodegradable after that.
Do you have any tried-and-true tips on how to store leafy greens and other produce without plastic? I want to hear them! Let me know in the comments.