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Green Onions
One important thing to remember about Cheap Eating is that food storage is nearly as important as low cost. Staples like beans, rice, canned vegetables, and dry pasta are gold for eaters on a budget because you can buy them in bulk without worrying about them going bad quickly.

Vegetables and especially green, non-root vegetables (not carrots or potatoes, for instance) are a whole different story. While the price of green onions and parsley isn’t going to break the bank, it can be annoying if anything to have to keep buying a fresh batch when the ones you have go bad in a few days.

So it’s important to properly store your green vegetables in order to get the most usage out of them. One important thing to note is that at the grocery store, the veggie section often has these auto-sprayers timed to shoot out cold mist in order to keep everything fresh. While this probably works well in the market, when you take a bunch of green onions and shove it in a grocery bag and tie the top, this isn’t good news for storage. All that extra water is not going to be good for greens when stored. So I like to make sure to carry paper towels in my pocket in order to wipe off excess moisture right there at the source. Some markets actually have rolls of paper for you to do this (Albertson’s where I shop does).

Now, when you get home from the market don’t just throw the tied bag of onions into the fridge and forget about it. It takes a little more time, but i like to wash the greens right away in cold water to remove excess dirt and then dry with towels. Then I leave the greens out on a plate to dry slightly. I think you could also use a salad spinner but that might be too much work. This works well for green onions, cilantro, parsley, lettuce and spinach. In addition, remove any twist ties as they can cut into the greens and promote spoilage.

Next I bundle the greens loosely between two paper towels and store in a large gallon ziploc bag. I believe there are actually ziploc bags that have preforations that are made especially to allow greens to “breathe”. The paper towels are important to keep the leafy part of the greens from contacting with the plastic bag. This is because when in the fridge, condensation will form and if the leaves are allowed to soak in that, the greens will spoil faster. The paper towels also help in the absorption. If the bunch of greens is really big, you may want to split it into two portions, wrap each separately, and then put them both in one ziploc bag.

I find that I can increase the life of green onions and other veggies by about 3-4 days using this technique. One thing that’s cool with veggies is that in most cases you can re-use the ziploc bags… if you find that they start to smell (in the case of onions), you can always wash the bags with soap and water.

8 Responses to “Keeping Green Vegetables Fresh”

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  1. barbara Says:

    Scallions, celery, onions, red and green peppers can be frozen. Once thawed, they won’t be like fresh (no crunch left) but are fine in soups, stews, chili, frittata, scrambled eggs, etc. Just wash, slice or dice, and throw into a ziplock.

    Also, if you buy ground beef on sale (I do this 10 lbs at a time), brown all of it off (easiest to do in your largest stock pot), drain, and package in little ziplocks in two cup portions (about a pound, cooked) and freeze. Use for chili, taco meat, hamburger helper, etc. Same with boneless skinless chicken.

  2. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    Barbara – Thanks for those awesome tips! I had heard somewhere about freezing vegetables in that way, I’ll definitely give it a go since I make a lot of stews. I didn’t know bell peppers worked, that’s great because I really like bell peppers.

    I freeze ground beef similar, but I usually cut it into 1/4 pound chunks and freeze it raw because sometimes I need it to make a single hamburger instead of loose ground beef.

  3. Shirley Says:

    I just found out that celery will stay fresh a lot longer wrapped in tin foil. I wish I had known this 30 years ago!

  4. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    shirley – that’s an interesting tip, I’ll have to try that foil idea. Though I feel like celery is already one of the more tolerable veggies as far as keeping it in the fridge for a long time.

  5. Tiff Says:

    I also wrap my leafy greens in paper towels and put them in ziplock bags. It doubles the life of bagged salad mixes. I’m especially impressed with baby spinach which can last for over a week when wrapped in paper towels!
    I’m excited to try wrapping celery in tin foil. Mine always goes limp really fast which is such a turn off :)

  6. Shilpa Medhekar Says:

    I had a question here.Where the ziplog bags needs to keep?
    Is the ziplog bags required to keep in freezer section(Ice section) or just in refrigerator? Please let me know about this.

  7. Cindy Lemon Says:

    I like to cut up fresh veggies, ie, celery, cucumbers, red, green and yellow peppers, cauliflower. How do I keep these raw vegetables fresh for dipping if not used that day. I was putting peppers and celery in plastic containers with water in fridge to keep fresh. Is this the correct way to do it? Any advise is appreciated. Please help.
    Thank You,


  8. Frank Benway Says:

    In the case of green onions, the ziploc bag is totally unnecessary, as are the paper towels for that matter. In my experience, wrapping them in anything that holds in the moisture shortens their lifespan, whether there is a paper layer or not. You can make them last a week or more by just drying them and putting them on top of anything else that might be in the crisper drawer so they don’t get crushed. Where most people go wrong with fruits and veggies is not separating the ones that emit the most ethylene gas (lemons and other citrus are the main offenders) from the rest, into another drawer or the main fridge compartment.



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