Keep vegetables fresh longer with sustainable, reusable storage.
Storing fresh vegetables and fruits so that they stay fresh is a challenge no matter what type of storage you use or where you are. It can be particularly difficult to store fresh food in an RV.
While it’s common to use plastic bags, plastic wrap, and plastic containers for produce and leftover storage, you can extend the life of your fresh food without using any plastic. Reduce your carbon footprint and keep your vegetables fresh longer with these four easy tips.
Cloth Produce Bags for Fresh Veggies
You can store most fresh vegetables in reusable cotton produce bags in the fridge. For leafy vegetables, slightly dampen the bag (just a few drops on each side) to keep the produce from wilting, then store in your refrigerator produce drawer. Add a few drops to the bag every couple of days to keep your veggies fresh.
You can even shop with the cloth bags. Put the vegetables you’re buying into your cloth produce bag instead of using the store’s plastic and bring it right up to the register that way.
I purchased some reusable cloth produce bags from Amazon and later made some myself from cotton muslin. I like mine better because they are less expensive, and I can customize the bag sizes. (Leave a comment if you want more info on how to make them.) To reuse, simply turn inside out and toss in the washer.
Room Temperature Vegetable Storage
In general, produce that is not refrigerated at the store can be stored at room temperature. Here are some examples:
- Some vegetables, like onions, potatoes, and winter squash, store well in dry brown paper bags in the pantry or another cool, dark place.
- Citrus fruits and tomatoes can be stored at room temperature until they start to ripen and will even taste better if not refrigerated. To save precious counter space in your RV kitchen and prevent bruises, store them in a produce hammock attached to the underside of a cabinet.
- Fresh basil turns brown when refrigerated. Treat fresh basil like cut flowers: snip the stems a little and pop them in a small vase or cup with the stems (not the leaves) submerged in water. Use museum putty to keep the vase secured on RV travel days. Fresh basil can last for several months on the counter. Just snip what you need as you need it and add water every few days.
Beeswax Wraps for Leftovers
You can use beeswax wraps to cover bowls, wrap sandwiches and cheese, and store cut vegetables, like a halved avocado or a cut melon.
Wax wraps are made from cloth soaked in beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil. They are reusable, and the beeswax has antibacterial properties that keep your food fresh longer than plastic wrap. You use the warmth from your hands to adhere the wrap around your food.
How good are beeswax wraps? You can wrap a halved avocado with a beeswax wrap so it will not turn brown on the cut edge! Store the half with the seed, cover the surface of the cut edge with the wrap touching all the cut flesh, and wrap all the way around the avocado to exclude air. Hold it in your hands for a few seconds to seal the wrap edge to itself.
You can buy beeswax wraps on Amazon. They are a little pricey, so I’ve also made some myself. It is a royal pain, so you really have to be committed to saving money. (Leave a comment if you want the info to try it yourself.) To reuse your wraps, gently massage a dab of dish soap on them with your hand, and rinse in cool water. Scrub brushes are a no-no. Don’t use wax wraps for meat as you can’t wash them in hot water, which would melt the wax.
Store Fresh Veggies in Glass Containers
Although plastic containers are lighter for the RV, borosilicate glass containers with silicone lids are more versatile and certainly more sustainable. They are sturdy and can go in the fridge, freezer, microwave, or oven. (Lids don’t go in the oven.)
For trips, we pack ready-to-eat foods and chopped veggies in them and use the containers for leftovers after we eat the original contents. A couple of examples are cilantro and bell peppers.
I chop cilantro before we head out in the RV. Place part of a paper towel in the bottom of a glass container. Add half the cilantro, another small piece of paper towel, then the rest of the cilantro. The paper towel soaks up excess moisture to prevent rot and also provides humidity so that the cilantro doesn’t wilt. Use extra paper towel pieces if the cilantro is excessively wet or slightly dampen the paper towels if the cilantro is bone dry.
You can pack a lot in the container to maximize precious RV fridge storage and ensure you have enough cilantro for tacos!
Cut (and seeded) bell peppers last much longer in a sealed glass container than they do whole in the fridge in any type of bag. Using this method, I’ve had bell peppers stay fresh for over two months!
I have purchased glass storage containers both on Amazon and at Sam’s Club. (I prefer the ones from Sam’s.)
What Are Your Ideas?
Do you store fresh vegetables without plastic in your RV? Leave a comment here so we can all learn more! Be sure to check out my RV recipes too.