We thought we would give our customers some tips on washing and storing your produce during this pandemic to help keep you safe. We take every precaution, following CDC guidelines for Covid-19 prevention on the farm during growing and harvesting. But there are some things you can do too.
First, know that buying straight from our farm gives you the following advantages during this pandemic:
1) Farm fresh produce that has not been traveling days to the supermarket and therefore retains more nutrients than store bought produce.
2) Our produce is grown organically so you don't have to worry about harmful chemicals on your food.
3) You don't have to purchase produce at the grocery store where more people have handled it and where you could be exposed to the virus. We have curbside pickup!
4) You are eating local food that is in season which is much better for your health.
But how do you help keep your produce safe once you get home? Let's look at ways to wash and store your produce using CDC measures to help prevent any possible virus transmission through handling at home.
There is NO evidence yet that the Covid-19 virus can be transmitted via food, but if you're concerned, cooking your produce will give extra protection. The Covid-19 virus can lie dormant in the refrigerator so be sure to wash your produce well before eating, especially if eating raw. Viruses have also been shown to live in the freezer up to 2 years, so it's important to blanch vegetables in boiling water, then immediately cool in cold water, and air dry before freezing.
CDC Guidelines for handling fruits and vegetables are important at any time, but even more relevant now during this pandemic:
Wash your hands, kitchen utensils, and food preparation surfaces, including chopping boards and counter tops, before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
Clean fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or cooking.
Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel. Germs on the peeling or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
Dry fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw foods that come from animals, such as meat, poultry, and seafood.
Refrigerate fruits and vegetables within 2 hours after you cut, peel, or cook them (or 1 hour if the outside temperature is 90°or warmer). Chill them at 40°F or colder in a clean container.
For sturdier greens like Kale, Collards, Broccoli, Bok Choy, and Swiss Chard, we recommend cleaning the greens in running water as soon as you get them home. Having a large bowl in the sink can help ensure the greens are not touching sink surfaces. Place them to dry on paper towels or cloths on your counter for several hours until completely dry. Then place the greens in a plastic bag or other container with a paper towel on top to catch moisture that evaporates from the vegetables. Mark your bag as to what is inside and what date you bought it so that you always know what you have. Greens can last up to a week using this method.
If you know you will not use the greens during the week, you can blanch them in boiling water for 2 mins and then place in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Air dry and then place in a freezer bag or container for future use. Can be stored in the freezer for several months.
More delicate greens such as lettuce may need to be stored as is until ready to use and then use the washing process described.
Most herbs and spring onions do not last well once washed. So either store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag until ready to use (with a paper towel to absorb moisture) or place upright in a glass jar with some water on your counter. When ready to use, wash in running water before cooking. This is especially important during the pandemic if you are not cooking with the herbs, but using them as a fresh topping. Heat in the cooking process does help inactivate the virus, but when eating raw, you must wash thoroughly.
Another great way to preserve herbs you may not use during the week is to wash and then chop them up into small pieces and place in individual ice cube tray compartments. Then fill up with olive oil or ghee or butter. Freeze overnight and then pop them out into a plastic bag or container to keep in the freezer. When ready to cook up something, just pop one in the pan and you have flavored oil or butter!
Wash root vegetables like radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, and turnips under running water with a vegetable scrubbing brush, then allow to air dry. Wrap these in paper towels or plastic bags or other containers and store in your vegetable drawer in the fridge. Putting a paper towel in the container with your veggies or just around them in the veggie drawer will help absorb moisture that forms.
Onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric and other root vegetables do well outside the fridge as long as they are keep in a dark, dry place. Do NOT store onions with sweet potatoes as this will cause them to spoil faster.
Here’s a little backyard growing tip: When your spring onions are used, keep the bottoms with the roots and place them in some dirt and watch them regrow green onions!
If you notice your onions or other root vegetable beginning to sprout, you can cut them up into pieces you cook with and freeze them in containers. Wash with running water before freezing but no need to blanch them. This is a great way to make ginger and turmeric last for up to 6 months. Cut into chunks the size you normally use in cooking and place in a freezer bag or container. When ready to use take a piece out and you’ll find that frozen, they are easier to grate into recipes.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are always better when stored on the counter, rather than in the fridge. But you can store in the fridge if you notice they are starting to go bad. Again, wash with running water and some friction as soon as you get them home and let dry before storing.
Strawberries: These do best washed in running water as described above. Then air dry and place in a well ventilated container with a paper towel to absorb moisture and place in the fridge. You can also freeze the strawberries after washing well, air drying, and cutting off the green tops.
Squashes and Eggplants: For flowering vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and yellow squash, simply wash in running water when you get them home and let air dry. Then wrap in plastic or paper towels and place in your veggie drawer in the fridge.