Save The Food: How To Save Your Vegetables

[ This article is part of our Save The Food series on how to make the most of your food ]

Can you still use your veggies?

  • This guide covers all veggies that aren't lettuce and lighter greens, hearty greens, or root vegetables. If you're looking for information on those navigate to the respective links above. This category includes many popular vegetables, including tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, bell peppers, and brussels sprouts)
  • If your veggies become slimy to the touch, heavily wrinkled, distinctly off colored, moldy, or develop a foul smell then it's time to toss them.
  • Partially bruised produce and produce with a small spot of rot is very common and if it's localized you don't need to throw out the entire vegetable. You can simply cut out the bruise and still use the rest of the produce.
  • If you find mold on one veggie you don't need to throw out the entire bunch. Carefully inspect the rest of the vegetables and then deal with any moldy ones. If it's a low moisture, relatively firm vegetable like a bell pepper you can cut away the mold. Make sure to always cut 1 inch around and below the mold to ensure you get it all. If it's a softer, higher moisture vegetable like a tomato you need to discard the entire piece of produce once you spot mold on it. Check out the USDA page on mold on food for more guidance.

How to save veggies

Freezing: Many vegetables in this category freeze well, including broccoli, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, and brussels sprouts. The key is to blanche them first. Blanching and freezing is a great way to preserve the nutritional value and attractiveness of veggies. Blanching just means boiling the vegetables for a short time and them bringing their temperature back down quickly. See here for more info, including specific blanching times for each different type of vegetable.

Roasting: Roasting veggies is a great way to use them up and / or extend their shelf life. Cut the veggies into equal size pieces, toss them in olive oil, add salt and pepper, and then add whatever additional seasoning you prefer. Granulated garlic and onion powder go well with many vegetables, but you can experiment to your liking. Place them on baking sheets and put them into a 425°F oven. Roast them until you can easily pierce them with a fork and you begin to see some browning on the outside, start checking at 15 min. Many veggies will take 15-45 minutes, depending on your preferences. You can easily freeze roasted vegetables once cooled to use later.

Pickling: This is a great way to prolong the life of vegetables and introduce new flavors. In particular, quick pickling is especially easy and fun. Quick pickling won't yield a shelf-stable product, so you'll still need to refrigerate it and use it up relatively quickly, but the process is also simpler and less technical than traditional pickling and most quick picked veggies will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. You can quick pickle pretty much any vegetable. Per half pound of vegetable just add 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 tsp of salt. You can then also add herbs and any other pickling spices as you desire. Check out this guide for some sample recipes.

Dehydrate: You can dehydrate most veggies and then blend them into a vegetable powder to add to any variety of dishes for added flavor and nutrition. Add some into baked goods, casseroles, scrambled eggs, smoothies, salads, soups, broths, or any other variety of dishes. It's admittedly a pretty foreign concept, but give it a try and you might find it's something you really enjoy. You can find more information of making veggie powders here.

Remixing: There are many great ways to "remix" vegetables that fall within this category into new dishes, some examples include:

  • Make a classic Spanish Salmorejo tomato soup that is sure to delight. It's a great use for old bread too!
  • Create a simple homemade tomato sauce that can be kept refrigerated or frozen to use up any excess tomatoes you have at risk of going to waste.
  • Make a delicious broccoli stem soup from broccoli stems that might otherwise go to waste.

How to prevent veggies from going bad

  • Most vegetables within this category will do best in the crisper drawer in the fridge.
  • The notable exception are tomatoes, which should be kept outside of the fridge.
  • The below guide from Half Your Plate provides some additional information. Access it directly here.

Related Articles

Are you interested in reducing your food waste, saving time, and money? Check out our app. We create personalized meal plans that consider your budgetary, dietary, taste, and cooking preferences, incorporate ingredients you have on hand, and generate easy to use grocery lists that don’t break the bank.

Apple App Store Download ButtonGoogle Play Download Button