Keeping Farm Food Fresh

MEAT

  • Our grass-fed animals were not raised in the same way as conventional pork, chicken, and turkey. Accordingly, several simple cooking and handling procedures will bring out the best flavors and textures in our meat.
  • Your meat will be most tender if you allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. If you try to cook grass-fed meat that is still partially frozen, the texture will suffer.
  • If you do need to hasten the thawing process, put the frozen meat in a bowl of cold water on the counter.
  • Make sure to DRY and SALT your meat before cooking. I have tried to brown wet meat, and it simply does not work. The Maillard reaction will not occur if water is present. As for salt, I like to use kosher salt because its high surface area/weight ratio helps it do its job quickly.
  • Temperature is king. There are essentially two kinds of meat, slow and fast. Slow meat, like pork shoulder or beef brisket, requires a long, slow cooking to ensure tenderness. Fast meat, like boneless breasts or pork chops, should be cooked at a high temperature for a short time. Because this meat tends to be lean, it can easily dry out if overcooked. Certainly you should meet the USDA recommendations for temperature, but no more. Pork chops should be have some color!
  • For more information about cooking with grass-fed meat, we recommend the website or cookbooks of Shannon Hayes.

EGGS

  • If you keep your eggs in the refrigerator, they will remain very fresh for one month. They will remain perfectly fine for two months under refrigeration. If your eggs do happen to last this long, they will be perfect for hard-boiled eggs. If an egg is too fresh, it will be very frustrating to peel the shell, once boiled.

VEGETABLE STORAGE

  • If a vegetable contains a leaf and a root/bulb (for example beets or kohlrabi) always store the leaves and the root/bulb separately.  If the leaves are left on for storage, the root/bulb will continue to “breath” through the leaves, and the root/bulb will lose its crisp texture much more quickly.
  • To revive limp greens: place leaves in a bowl of cold water with 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice for up to one hour. Remove from water and dry in a salad spinner or with paper towels.
  • Arugula (and other salad greens)
    Wrap the greens in a slightly damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will stay very fresh for 3 days and be perfectly good for up to a week.
  • Basil
    Basil discolors when refrigerated, so the best way to keep it fresh (for up to 5 days) is to place the stem in a small glass of water.
  • Beans (“string” or “green”)
    Refrigerate in a loosely sealed plastic bag for up to a week.
  • Beets
    Treat the greens as you would spinach (they can be used interchangeably in recipes). Unwashed beets will keep in a root cellar for months. Once beets have been washed, store them in a fridge for 2-3 weeks.
  • Bok Choi
    Store wrapped in a damp paper towel in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up for 5 days.
  • Broccoli
    Refrigerate in a loosely sealed plastic bag. Broccoli is very fresh for 3 days, and perfectly good for up to a week.
  • Cabbage
    Winter cabbage can be root-cellared for months. Whole cabbage keeps in the fridge for 1-2 weeks; sliced cabbage should be used within 5-6 days.
  • Carrots
    Carrots will hold in a root cellar (or in the ground) until spring. Carrots will stay fresh in a fridge for months as well, provided that they are not kept in the vicinity of apples (apples and some other fruits emit ethylene gas, which causes carrots to become bitter).
  • Cauliflower
    See Broccoli
  • Celeriac
    Can be root-cellared if unwashed. Once washed, keep refrigerated and use within one week.
  • (Swiss) Chard
    Keep in loosely sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator; use within one week. The stems require a longer cooking time than the leaves, so put them into any dish you are making about 5 minutes before the greens.
  • Sweet Corn
    Sweet corn is most delicious 1-2 days after harvest, though still good for up to one week. Keep it in its husk in the fridge.
  • Cucumbers
    Store in a loosely sealed plastic bag for up to 10 days.
  • Daikon Radish
    Store in a loosely sealed plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.
  • Eggplants
    If you will use eggplant within 3 days, store it in a cool place, such as a pantry. For storage up to a week, keep in the fridge.
  • Fennel
    Keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Garlic
    Keep in a cool dark place. Garlic will stay fresh until spring.
  • Husk Cherries
    Refrigerate for up to one week.
  • Kale
    Refrigerate in a loosely sealed plastic bag for 5-7 days.
  • Kohlrabi
    Use the greens within 4 days. The bulb will keep for a week or more.
  • Leeks
    Store in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the fridge. Before using, trim off a thin sliver from the root end as well as the tough, green top and leaves. Slice lengthwise and gently rinse off any soil trapped between the layers.
  • Lettuce
    Refrigerate wrapped in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. Crisper varieties will keep up to a week. Before serving, trim the base and rinse any grit that may be trapped between the leaves.
  • Muskmelons
    Melons will continue to ripen if left at room temperature. Once they achieve their desired level of ripeness (discernable from the scent), store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Cut melons should be covered with plastic wrap and used within 3 days.
  • Onions
    Storage onions (which have a papery outer shell) will keep for months if kept in a cool, dark place. Fresh, uncured onions (which are more moist) should be refrigerated and used within a week and a half. Do NOT store onions in the same place as potatoes–they will both go bad.
  • Parsnips
    Unwashed parsnips will keep for months in the fridge.
  • Pea Shoots
    Refrigerate for up 4 days.
  • Snap Peas
    Wrap them in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Peppers
    Refrigerate red peppers for up for 5 days in a plastic bag. Green peppers will keep longer, or you can leave them on the counter in a plastic bag to ripen and become red.
  • Potatoes
    New potatoes keep for up to a week; normal potatoes will keep for months, depending on the variety. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place (refrigerators are just a bit too cool) away from apples and onions (both of which will cause potatoes to sprout).
  • Pumpkins
    Keep pumpkins in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for 1-2 months. Once cut, pumpkins should be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • Radishes
    Keep refigerated for up to one week.
  • Scallions
    Refrigerate up to one week.
  • Spinach
    Refrigerate wrapped in a damp paper towl in a plastic bag for up to one week.
  • Sprouts
    Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  • Strawberries
    Handle gently. Do not wash strawberries until just before eating. Berries will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Summer Squash (Yellow Squash, Zucchini)
    Refrigerate for up to one week.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    Keep up to 4 weeks in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • Winter Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Delicata)
    Store in a cool, dry place for a month or more. If you notice a soft spot, use the squash immediately, removing any portions that are inedible.
  • Tomatillos
    Store in a paper bag in the fridge for up to one month. Pull off the papery hull and wash in cool water to remove some of the stickiness on the skin.
  • Tomatoes
    Do not refrigerate tomatoes–the coolness will affect the flavor. Keep ripe tomatoes on the counter and use within 5 days. Unripe tomatoes will continue to ripen on the counter. If you have an abundance you will not be able to use, peel the tomatoes and freeze or can them.
  • Turnips
    Treat the greens like kale. The roots will keep wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Zucchini
    See summer squash.