Vegetables may have their origin from different parts of the plant. Spinach is a green leafy vegetable, potato is a root vegetable, okra is a fruit, peas are seeds and so on. Depending on the part of plant they come from the vegetable shelf life varies.
Importance of vegetables in the diet
Vegetables are rich sources of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. They also provide a substantial amount of fiber when included in the diet. Vegetables are significant sources of phytochemicals such as carotenoids, flavonoids, indoles and glucosinolates and polyphenols. Phytochemicals or plant chemicals are bioactive components which have several health promoting properties.
To top all the above benefits, they are low calorie foods! They are filled with nutrients and health promoting constituents and hardly give any calories.
It would be ideal to get fresh vegetables every day from the market but all of us have time constraints. We all end up buying vegetables once a week and if lucky twice a week. Vegetables are perishable commodities and have to be taken care of properly to increase their shelf life. They should be stored appropriately otherwise most of the veggies will end up in the trash can.
Tips to increase shelf life of veggies
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach can be rinsed and then must be wrapped in a clean paper and stored.
- Remove any rubber bands or any strings tying the vegetables before storing.
- Herbs like coriander and mint should be washed just before use. Chop off the roots and store.
- In case of root vegetables like radish, carrots and beets removing the leaves extends their shelf life. Leave an inch and chop them off.
- Onions, garlic, and ginger should be stored in a cool, dry and open space.
- Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry and dark space. Humid and warm place makes potatoes sprout. And do not store them together with onions.
- Store tomatoes at room temperature away from sunlight and once they ripen uniformly, they can be stored in the refrigerator.
- Carrots, broccoli, cabbage etc. should be stored in a plastic bag.
- Mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag. They should be washed just before using.
- Do not store fruits and vegetables together in the refrigerator. Fruits release ethylene which is a ripening agent that may prematurely ripen the vegetables. Store them separately.
- Store cucumbers in a cool and dry place, there is no need to refrigerate them and consume them as soon as possible.
- Okra should not be stored for long in the refrigerator as they end up turning black.
- Capsicum stays good in the refrigerator for almost 2 weeks. Green capsicum can be stored for a longer time than red and yellow capsicum.
- The bags in which veggies are stored should have some holes in them so that air flow is possible which keeps them from decaying and shelf life is increased.
- Do not pack vegetables tightly in the refrigerator because that will make them rot sooner. Let them be loosely packed so that they can breathe.