The quicker you pick up and care for your produce, the longer it will keep, especially during the hottest days of the season. We recommend placing most vegetables in a plastic bag in your refrigerator (except winter squash and potatoes, which do well in a dark, cool spot). For all greens, wash them in very cold water and wrap them in a damp cloth before putting them in a plastic bag in the fridge. When asparagus comes in the spring, cut at the base and put in a vase of water in your fridge.
Tomatoes should not be refrigerated as their flavor depends on warmth (if you must refrigerate some, be sure to leave them out on the counter for a day or so before you plan to eat them). Basil does best treated like cut flowers—trim the bottoms and place in a cup of water on your windowsill.
Store your fruit in a cool, dark spot, but NOT the fridge. It will usually taste better unrefrigerated. Winter citrus and other fruits are best stored in an unheated garage or utility room. In very cold regions, do not expose fruit to freezing temps.
Sunset Ridge Farm’s tree-ripened summer fruit share is harvested very differently from retail fruits, which are picked unripe and ripened under specific conditions. Greg strives to provide varying degrees of ripeness in each week’s collection of this special fruit, with some ready to eat right away and the rest firm enough to ideally ripen throughout the week.
Sort your summer fruit right away. About 1/3 will be perfectly ripe to eat now, and the rest will be in varying stages of ripeness for the week. Place these in a cool spot, but not the fridge (refrigerating apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums damages their texture and flavor). If you receive more fruit than you will eat within the week, put some in the fridge to hold it, but be sure to give it time to warm up before you take a bite! Apricots, cherries, nectarines and peaches freeze well: just pit, slice, and freeze in a single-layer on a tray before transferring to a plastic freezer bag (peach pie in December tastes fabulous!) Pears often need time to reach optimal ripeness: put them in a paper bag with an apple or banana to speed the process.
Another option in our sunny climate is to dry some of your summer fruit. With peaches, simply slice them in half, pull the pit out and then slice them into 1/4 inch rounds or strips. Lay them out between two non-metal window screens for a few hours or a day (depending on the weather), and peel them off when they are fully dried but before they get crunchy. Delicious!
As soon as you bring your flowers home, fill a large vase with lukewarm water, re-cut the stems, and put them in the vase. Keep your vase clean, and re-cut the flowers often. The more often you re-cut them, the longer they will last. Keep them out of the sun!