Ask a Chef: Devra Gartenstein

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Devra Gartenstein runs the Patty Pan Grill, a vegetarian farmers’?? market concession in Seattle. Gartenstein is also the author of The Accidental Vegan and Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes. We asked her how best to store fresh produce from farmers’?? markets without worsening the plague of plastic bags.

• Toss items like zucchini or potatoes directly into a cloth or recycled fabric grocery bag. Place tomatoes in the bag gently, and don’??t put anything heavy on top of them. Some farmers’?? market vendors offer biodegradable bags, which you can use for smaller items, like cherries or cherry tomatoes. But use as few as possible and reuse them often, since they do take energy to produce.

• After you get the produce home, you can store most items loose in your refrigerator’??s vegetable drawer. But you’ll need to store leafy greens in plastic or biodegradable bags or in plastic or glass containers in the fridge, since they tend to wilt. Keep root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, and onions, as well as tomatoes and most fruits—except melons, which you’ll want to refrigerate??—out on the kitchen counter.

• Once fruit ripens, store it in a bowl in the fridge. As soon as you discover any rotten fruit, be sure to remove and compost it, since it can cause produce near it to turn as well.