Is your fridge a vegetable graveyard? How to revive dead produce into crisper soup

Your refrigerator’s crisper drawer is the first cooking skill worth trying. Even if it’s become a habit to think of it in the form of “the rotter,” that promising swathe of herbage picked up in the grocery store during an unplanned “health kick” ends up dying. In particular!

Instead of letting your veggies congeal and gloop, prolong their lifespan. If they begin to appear a bit sluggish, it’s possible to turn them into an enthralling midweek treat.

One thing to remember is that vegetables and fruits are like families, and some members have a better relationship than others. Soft leaves, soft herbs, and brassicas are very temperamental. If you leave them in the vicinity of ethylene-emitting plants (i.e., the majority of vegetables), they’ll become yellow and shrink and curl around themselves. In general, cold-weather vegetables are the first to be placed in the crisper, as the crisper is closer to the natural environment they live in.

Brassicas: wrap them in

Brassicas, such as broccoli, kale,brussels sprouts, and cabbage, like to breathe. Therefore, any airtight container will cause more damage than it does good. Wrap them in a damp kitchen towel, and then pack them loosely.

Larger cruciferous veggies like Lombok and cabbage have their wrapper in the form of outer leaves. If you don’t use it all at the same time, make sure to wrap it in a moist towel, or the cut side may become dry and discolored.

Don’t throw away your turnip and radish tops. They’re yummy and are great in the same way as rocket leaves. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

If you’ve stumbled across rootsier brassica like daikon, turnips, and radishes with their tops left on, it’s better to split and take on. Remove the leafy tops because they tend to take the life of the bulb in the vegetable. The bulb will go into the crisper, and you shouldn’t toss out the shelters because they’re tasty. Please put them in bags, place them on the refrigerator shelf, and treat them as rockets. Be sure to give them a careful wash since they tend to get grippy.

The root vegetables should be kept in the tops.

The more robust root vegetables like beetroot and carrots are also better in crisper conditions; however, if you’re out of space to store them, you can put them in bags and put them on the shelves above. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

More robust root vegetables like beetroot and carrots are best in a crisper, too. If you’re short of space, you can bag them and put them on the top shelf. The tops are the best. The leafy carrot tops are similar to peppery parsley, and beetroot tops resemble silverbeet.

Nightshades: keep out

Nightshades, like tomatoes, as well as eggplants, capsicums, and tomatoes, are warm-weather vegetables and do best when kept away from the cooler. Potatoes are especially opposed to refrigeration due to the fact that it exposes them to too much sunlight, which causes them to dry out and alters their starch composition (a great thing for preparing the gnocchi). Place them in an airtight, dry area away from direct sunlight except if you’re in a hot environment, wherein case refrigerating and paper bagging are the lesser of two bad things.

Onions: Keep them away from potatoes

As we’re eating spuds, are you aware of those family members who have been fighting, as I mentioned earlier? It’s a bad idea to keep potatoes and onions in the same space as they could cause havoc. If you have potatoes stored in your pantry, wrap your onions before placing them in the crisper. If your potatoes are stored in the fridge, keep the onion in the refrigerator.

Leaves and herbs: store them in a container

Instead of waiting for them to gloop and congeal, prolong the life of your herbs’ soft leaves with damp paper towels and then store them in a sealed container. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

To store your soft lettuce leaves and herbs, wash and dry them and wrap them in a damp paper towel, place them in sealed airtight container bags of calico, and put them on top of the crisper.

Fruits: keep them clear of the cold

It is best to keep fruit (except maybe the berries) out of the refrigerator completely. Not only is it more convenient to ripen, but it also tastes better when stored at ambient temperature, and there’s less danger of fridge smells or dehydration ruining soft fruit. Some instances require refrigeration, such as if you live in the tropical zone or if the fruit is at the turn. In such a case, consider placing the fruit on the shelves above the crisper or putting it in reusable bags to ensure that your “fruit farts” are on lock.

The final tip

The best method to stop your crisper from becoming a graveyard for vegetables is to ensure that it’s kept in motion. When you return home with some of the produce you bought from the stores or markets, you should remove the older items from the crisper. Clean the bottom using white vinegar and put in the new veggies first, then place the older ones over it. This will help you make use of everything you have, even if it’s wilting the produce is, since it’s all thrown out of the rinse (or to simmer!) as “crisper soup” recipes like Shchi.

Shchi – recipe

Shchi (pronounced “she”) is basically a soup made of cabbage, which has its origins in the ancient Slavic site, which is the plural form of satisfaction or satiety. It’s literally the soup of pride for the masses. When I was a kid, a huge cup of this, or Borsch, was Mum’s sitting Sunday simmer. It was time-saving and cost-effective, and having a bowl of either soup was her guarantee that we’d be fed.

Consider Shchi to be white Borsch, in which the beetroot is substituted for turnip or swede. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

Imagine Shchi as white Borsch. The beetroot is substituted for sweet and earthy vegetables such as swede and turnip. The acid has been boosted by Apple cider vinegar. If you have brine made from dill pickles or kraut, you are welcome to make use of it instead of vinegar. Kimchi brine can also be beneficial for those who want to add a bit of spice.

This recipe is plant-based, but if you’d like more richness, you can foam a knob of butter and the oil while sweating the vegetables and then make use of chicken stock. If you’re using a commercial store, test the soup prior to adding any additional seasonings since some stock is extremely salty. Don’t forget to gather all the vegetable trimmings and rinds (except those of the cabbage) and place them in bags in the freezer in order to make fresh stock for the next Shchi.

The flavor of the Shchi will improve over time and can happily stay at room temperature for up to seven days – right enough time to prepare for your next crisper clearing out.

Shchi is delicious and can be enjoyed on the day it’s created; however, its flavor only increases over time. Photograph: Rochelle Eagle/The Guardian

Serves 8-10 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
One onion brown chopped in half, then thinly sliced
1-small fennel bulb halved and then thinly cut all the way to the stalks, with fronds left for
One big carrot with a rough chop
3-4 cloves of garlic Finely chopped
1/2 bunch of dill stalks and fronds cut, finer fronds reserved to garnish
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
A large root (or swede (or three smaller ones) and roughly chopped
Two waxy potatoes, such as Nicola and desired, cut into cubes of 2cm (300g)
Two bay leaves dried or fresh
500ml vegetable stock
1.5 Liters of water (preferably filtering)
Small white cabbage cut into fine slices
Sour cream as well as olive oil extra-virgin, to serve

Prepare the large, heavy-based Dutch oven or a large saucepan with a medium flame. Add onions, olive oil, and cut fennel bulb carrot. Wait for the mixture to begin to smoke before lowering the heat to low cover, er the pot with a top lid, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. After the fennel and carrot have softened and the onions are translucent, add the dill and garlic stalks. Stir in the cooking liquid and simmer until it becomes fragrant (about 2 minutes).

The pan should be deglazed with apple cider vinegar. After that, put in the turnip (or swede, if you prefer) as well as the potatoes and bay leaves. Add the water and stock and bring to a boiling point, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough to fork.

Include the cabbage along with most of the fennel and dill frills (keeping the finer, softer fronds to garnish). Stir until the mixture is well mixed, and then switch off the flame, cover the dish, and let the cabbage simmer in the remaining heat for between 10 and 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper according to your preference.

Pour the soup into bowls of soup, add an ounce of sour cream, and garnish with dill leaves and Fennel fronds. Then, finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle freshly cracked salt.

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