Sunday, August 2, 2009

Storing produce

This summer of wacky weather has made growing food more challenging than usual. If you're lucky enough to harvest enough to need storage before you can eat or process it all, use Debbie Meyer Green Bags.

These are translucent-green plastic bags treated with oya, a mineral related to zeolite, which is used to absorb gases. In this case, the bags absorb ethylene gas from vegetables and fruits as they ripen.

The vendor claims that produce stored in these bags stays fresh up to 30 days, or up to 10 times the normal shelf life of any particular food. While I can't verify these claims, I can say for sure that my produce lasts a heck of a lot longer in the fridge when I use these bags -- a boon when the harvest comes in all at once, and when store-bought produce must remain edible for a week or more. (Particularly helpful when you're single and need to work your way through a head of lettuce before it spoils!)

There's a catch, of course. Food must be dry before inserting. Hmm . . . that's tricky with fresh pickings or items refrigerated at point of purchase. I get around it by wrapping the food in paper towels and changing the wrap daily.

Storing produce in regular plastic bags also works (if wrapped in something absorbent) but the Green Bags give extra mileage. I use them all year but especially now, when the garden and the berry patch ripen faster than we can consume their bounty. Each Green Bag can be reused many times, and you get 20 for around $10. Given that I've bought $20 worth over 3+ years and still have half of them left, I guess we can call this a great deal!

Carolyn Haley
Author: Open Your Heart with Gardens
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