Fruits and vegetables, which are off-season, can be stored without refrigeration. You might want to preserve the produce from your own garden or orchard, but do not want to refrigerate them, due to the quantity or your preference. There are some very effective ways in which you can preserve fruits and vegetables so that you can enjoy them all through the year.
How to preserve fruits and vegetables without refrigeration
Selecting the right produce
When you have a lot of fruits and vegetables, and you don’t want to go them to waste, you can store them for a long duration without fridge. The first step is to select the right produce, you should not buy already frozen ones, as these will demand refrigeration. If you have excess produce from your garden or orchard, select the ones which are just right, or in this case, just ripe. Overripe fruits and veggies will not last long.
You can pick fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market, but take care to select the perfect ones, which will last for an extended time with no refrigeration at all. Do not buy or use any items which are bruised, overripe, rotten, look old or are just at the point of rotting. Only the best, freshest fruits and vegetables will store well.
Storage and transport
Be realistic about how much you can store, as the fruits and vegetables will get bruised in your storage area, even if you pick the best ones. While transporting them, do not cram them to the top of the carry bag, but they should not also roll around, which will damage them.
Dry them completely
Some people say wash them and some people say don’t. Washing them will clean them of dirt as well as the tiny insects which might infest other food. It is your choice to wash them or not, but when you do wash them, make sure that they are completely dry before you proceed on any of the methods to preserve fruits and vegetables without fridge.
Storing them in containers
If you have space in your kitchen and cellar, the easiest way to store them is using containers or hanging them from something like gear hammocks. You could use see through mesh hammocks which will allow you to see the produce without much effort and select the ones which are ready for the table easily.
The storage area should be dry, dark and well-ventilated. Find some reusable plastic bins which can be washed easily. If you use wire baskets and hammocks, do pad them well, otherwise the ripe fruits as well as vegetables might bruise. If you see any stored food with mold or rotting, throw them away. Moisture levels have to be low in the storing area or else the fruits and veggies will get moldy.
A short storage list for different fruits and vegetables:
Garlic: Should never be stored in plastic bags if you want to keep them fresh for about a month or so.
Onions: Should be stored in a dry, dark area to avoid sprouting.
Potatoes: Store in a cool, dry and dark place. Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes can be stored in a similar way.
Apples: Store open, not in bags, in a cool, dry place.
Cabbage: Cabbage lasts for many weeks when kept in cool place. Protect from bruising. Cabbage can be eaten in many different ways, including salads so use it in place of lettuce which is difficult to store in a no refrigeration zone.
Tomatoes: To keep them fresh, buy tomatoes which are green to ripe. This will provide you with a continuous supply for some time, as they will keep ripening and become ready to use. Wrap them in paper towels and keep in dark, dry place.
Carrots, celery: Wrap in foil, but keep the end open, a tiny opening will be enough. You may have to rehydrate them before using.
Cucumbers, green bell peppers: To preserve fruits and vegetables like these, pad them thoroughly without damaging them, and they will last for about two weeks, or till you make your next trip to the farmer’s market.
Zucchini, squash: Smaller will last a longer time and retain their flavor. Even if they wilt a little, you will not notice that they are not as crisp if you cook them well.
Cauliflower and broccoli: These two veggies last long if you buy ones which have never seen a refrigerator. Keep them in a dry, dark place and even if they get some black spots, cut them out. But check for insects in cauliflower before storing and eating them.
Canning : One of the best ways to preserve fruits and vegetables is to can them. Use the ripe fruit, and can them according to your recipe. Some fruits may require processing, for instance you may want to make applesauce and can it whereas, peaches can be peeled, sliced and canned.
Canning fruits work due to the fact that fruits contain a high amount of acid which acts like a preservative. The method used by many people is water-bath canning. This method requires sanitized jars, inside which you place your fruits. Then heat the jars in a water-bath to a certain temperature to get rid of the bacteria.
Properly processed jars will have their lids turned in, which means they can be stored in a dry place. If the lids are turned out, then you will have no option but to store them in the fridge.
Drying: Another method to preserve fruits and vegetables is by drying them.
In drying method too, you have to use perfectly ripened fruit. Remove all the peels and pits, if you want, from fruits like apples, peaches, plums, nectarines and pears.
Cut the fruits into slices or chunks, and cut them into equal sizes. Do not cut smaller fruit such as blueberries, grapes, raspberries etc.
Preheat oven to the lowest temperature (around 200 degrees F or 93 degrees C) or even lower. High temperature will bake the fruit instead of drying it. Then, use a non-stick baking sheet to dry the fruits. It may take anywhere between 8 hours to two days for drying, and you have to keep checking in between.
Store the dried fruit in airtight container and keep in a cool and dark place. Dried fruit can last for months. Enjoy the preserved fruits and vegetables’ flavor and texture as the no fridge method helps to retain their natural taste.