Refrigeration is not always best.

Many people assume that the refrigerator is the best place to put ANYTHING that one wants to preserve. While, as a general principle, this is true. There are exceptions to the “rule.” Refrigeration is not always the best way to preserve some things.

Refrigeration is not always the best for tomatoes.

One exception is that of tomatoes. While it may be true that a tomato will last longer in the fridge, than on the counter, that garden-fresh flavor will dissipate within hours of getting chilled. Putting tomatoes in the fridge is a mixed bag. They’re remain edible for longer, but their flavor will take a hit, if they are placed in the fridge. The ideal is to place them on the kitchen counter and use them soon.

Refrigeration is not always the best for okra.

bagged okra, okra

Okra is even more adverse to being chilled. Pods stored in the fridge will quickly develop dark spots on them, shortly after that, they’ll start to spoil. Ron Cook, who raises many hundreds of pounds of okra, for our local market, every summer, told me that the best way to store excess okra (short term) is to place the unwashed pods in a plastic shopping bag and leave it open at the top. Keep this at room temperature. They’ll last for several days.

Okra keeps better at room temperature.

He mentioned to me that for years he sold  okra to a grocery store. Every year he would them not to refrigerate the okra, and every time he made a delivery, they’d pop the pods straight into refrigeration. He says that a couple days after delivery, he’s ashamed to admit that those are from his garden. Yet, he’s found that a slightly oversize pod, dropped on the ground, out in the open garden, and even stepped on, may look better than the grocery store pods, after a couple days in refrigeration. So, if you grow or obtain okra, do not put fresh pods in the fridge! Jerreth and I have a pile on our kitchen counter, not even bagged, which are over 3 days old, and they’re still quite good!

Good recipes make all the difference with okra!

Have you come up with any good ways to keep fresh produce longer? We’d love to hear about it.


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