- The higher the temperature, the faster the respiration rate. This makes refrigeration very important in the process of prolonging the live of harvested vegetables.
- The rate of respiration depends on the plant's water content, meaning that a plant like head lettuce respires more rapidly than sweet potatoes for example.
- Immature vegetables respire more rapidly than mature vegetables.
- The respiration rate also depends on the oxygen level, meaning that the more airtight an area is the more the respiration decreases. Be careful not to make the area completely airtight, because without any oxygen your veggies will become less edible. Perforated plastic containers are a great option.
- Water loss in fresh vegetables makes them look wilted and dull. Water loss can be prevented by storing the product at as low a temperature and as high a humidity as possible for the product.
Homeowners most commonly store vegetables in a refrigerator. While many vegetables can be stored well in the refrigerator for a week or longer, there are certain storage precautions to be observed. For instance, many ripening fruits (such as pears, plums, apples, cantaloupes, and peaches) should not be stored together with vegetables. These Fruits give off ethylene gas, which causes yellowing of green vegetables, russet spotting on lettuce, toughening of asparagus spears, sprouting of potatoes and bitterness in carrots.
You can find a great, very detailed list of storage requirements for specific vegetables in UT Publication SP291 here: SP291: Fresh Vegetable Storage for the Homeowner.
For more information about various different ways to store and preserve food, come see us for the upcoming FREE Fall Gardening Workshop: 'Root Cellaring Basics' at the Farmers'Market (October 5th, 9:30 am), visit our UT Extension Office, or Ask a Master Gardener.
Posted by: Sabine Ehlers, CMG