“Food Network star has advice on storing, using quick to spoil vegetables”
by Jeanne Muchnick, Rockland/Westchester Journal News; published April 7, 2020, found at lohud.com.

[This article was picked up by USA Today and appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Friday, April 17, 2020 under the title “Save your veggies.”]

Food shopping during the coronavirus takes more plotting and planning — and buying in bulk — so what do you do with the 5 pounds of tomatoes or carrots you just bought to avoid having to return to the store? Storing and usage can be challenging when it comes to quick-to-spoil vegetables.

Pleasantville native Jessica Tom, a Food Network star, author and food influencer on Instagram, says that, “as crazy as it may sound,” it’s good to inventory what you have. That way, you won’t forget what you bought, which helps cut down on waste.

Her suggestion: Categorize your veggies into groups, i.e. Use now, Later and Latest. Put hardier ingredients towards the back of the fridge and your more fragile ingredients upfront.

A huge haul of veggies — good enough for a week — means greater management. “Each veggie has its own internal clock,” she said. “And it’s your job to eat them before it’s too late.”

Rather than being reactive to spoilage, be proactive and think about what you want to use first. Some rough guidelines follow.

Use me quickly: Use vegetables with high water content and delicate cellular structure ASAP.  That means cucumbers, mushrooms, string beans, snow/snap peas, lettuces and greens. One pointer: When the bag on your lettuce starts to inflate, the cells are degrading and giving off gas.

Monitor me: Most vegetables fall in this middle ground and their longevity will depend on the condition in which they were bought. Watch out for signs they’re about to go bad — wrinkling, browning, soft spots, and should it come to this, mold and sliminess. Items that fall in this category include romaine, eggplant, corn, grape and cherry tomatoes, zucchini, small radishes, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and bok choy.

Save me (in the fridge): Carrots, turnips, rutabaga, beets, cabbage, large radishes, leeks and kohlrabi are good for weeks.

Save me (in a cool dark place like a cellar or spare fridge): Potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, onions, shallots, garlic and ginger.

Worth noting: A little browning or mold is no big deal. Just cut that part out, along with any part that has softened or gone bad. If it smells off, just toss it [into the compost] and make sure you’ve learned your lesson.

Jeanne Muchnick covers food and dining. Click here for her most recent articles and follow her latest dining adventures on Instagram @lohud_food.