Have you ever harvested beautiful homegrown veggies only to find them wilted and limp an hour later?
Homegrown veggies, as well as store-bought or farmers market produce, need constant hydration otherwise the cell walls lose moisture. Without moisture fresh vegetables go limp, wilted or rubbery and become unappealing to eat. That is why you see grocery stores constantly misting water over many vegetables in the produce department.
Once you get your produce home, or if you’re harvesting fresh from the garden, your veggies can go limp quickly unless you keep them hydrated.
With most of your crops being grown and harvested during the hot days of summer it’s also important to harvest your crops at the right time of the day and hydrate them after they’ve been pulled from the ground.
This post will guide you to the best time to harvest your crops, and how to revive limp produce to reduce food waste.
Best Time of the Day to Harvest Crops
Early morning is the best time of the day to harvest most of your veggies. The morning dew helps to keep them hydrated so your vegetables will have a longer shelf life. Once the sun gets higher in the sky and the day gets hotter vegetables can quickly become dehydrated. Morning is also the best time to water most of your crops to keep them happier with the heat. If you really can’t get to them in the morning (because most of us are busy or head to work!) then evening is best after the weather has cooled down but make sure you hydrate them right away (see the steps below).
The exception to harvesting in the early morning is with your fall and winter crops. As frosts happen overnight wait until the mid-morning sun has melted the frost away and rebounded your crops back to life before harvesting to reduce damaging the crops.
How to Keep Homegrown Produce Fresh
+ Reviving your Limp Vegetables
Even if you harvest your crops at the right time of the day your veggies can still go limp if you forget to hydrate them.
If you see a big bowl of wilted greens or rubbery carrots don’t worry, you can re-hydrate them and revive them with a simple method.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, add the vegetables.
- For greens just place them in a large bowl. For root veggies, celery and asparagus trim off the bottoms first and place the lower half in cold water. For herbs just snip off the bottoms and place upright in a jar of cold water.
- Let them soak for 15 to 20 minutes then dry before using.
- If they’re really limp try to use them the same day. You may have to keep hydrating them every few hours if it’s hot.
- You can place washed greens in-between a paper or cloth towel and in a container or bad to preserve the freshness.
- I tend to keep homegrown produce on the counter and hydrate 2-3 times a day until I’m ready to use them.
How long does fresh produce last?
Here’s a great guide from Cooksmart on the shelf-life of fresh produce and how to store it.