We’ve all had it happen, go into the fridge to make a salad or grab some carrots and everything is wilted and looking a little worse for wear. So what do we do? Inevitably we toss it, I mean who wants to eat rubber carrots? Not me!

The good news is, you no longer have to toss those rubber carrots or your wilted greens. Storing vegetables in the fridge can be a challenge as there are a lot of factors that will influence the life of your produce. How fresh was it when you bought it? The temperature of your fridge and even where you place your produce in your fridge can all affect its life cycle.

Fresh produce is key! Produce that you buy at the grocery store, while it may look fresh is not as freshly picked as produce you get at a farmers market. Produce in the grocery s several days before it appears on the shelf, and when produce only lasts so long this is already cutting into your shelf life. Visiting local farmers markets, where the produce is often picked that day or the night before is the best way to get the freshest produce possible.

How cold is your fridge? Is your fridge’s temperature regulated throughout, meaning is the back of the shelf just as cold as the front of the shelf? Unfortunately, the answer is probably not. You may have already realized that food sitting in the back can often freeze. Even if your fridge is brand new it can still have problems keeping the temperature even throughout. How many times you open and close your fridge during the day can also greatly affect the temperature, as the cold air will escape every time you open it, which is why you have probably heard to not stand in front of the fridge with the door open looking for something to eat.

Do you use your crispers – the drawers at the bottom of the fridge? They often have a sliding vent that will help you to maximize the life of your produce, often having one setting for veggies and one setting for fruit. I personally have had a constant battle with the drawers and which items go in which, and what if you have so much produce (as I often do) that it doesn’t even fit in the drawers?

Regardless of your fridge, there is a way to save your trash can or your compost from those carrots you bought 5 days ago. The answer = cold water!

When vegetables are wrinkled or your greens are wilted and shrinking up, they are simply dehydrated. If you think about how much water is contained in your produce and the look of them after sitting in the fridge for a week it makes sense. Now slimy produce is a whole other story and there is no quick resolve for that except to toss it in the compost.

I buy a lot of Kale, and if its not eaten within 2 or 3 days it starts to look tired and limp, but you can bring it new life. Follow these steps to save your tired and wilted veggies from the compost, at least for a few more days!

  • Separate Your Veggies
    • Put your veggies in groups, put all the greens together. Carrots & Potatoes together and even Celery.
    • Different types of veggies will take different amounts of time based on their density. Leafy greens will take less time than Carrots or Potatoes.
    • Cut off any parts that don’t look like you should keep them (bruises, browning or sliminess)
  • Run Cold Water from the Tap
    • You want the water to be really cold, as cold as you can get it. I often leave the tap running on cold while I prepare my veggies and putting them in the bowl.
  • Find a Mixing Bowl or Dish Large Enough to Hold Your Veggies
    • You need a dish big enough that you can submerge your produce in it without having to chop it all up.
    • Mixing bowls work great, or roasting pans.
  • Put Your Veggies in the Dish & Cover with Cold Water
    • You want to make sure that you get them covered in water, leafy greens can be a bit of a challenge as they tend to float somewhat so you will need to monitor them and turn them over in the cold water.
  • Let Sit and Absorb the Water
    • How long, really depends on your veggies and how wilted they are.
    • Carrots and potatoes or any other veggie that is really dense can take quite awhile, but you can leave them there for hours. No harm will come to them by leaving them overnight or forgetting about them.
    • Leafy greens – be careful with how long you leave them in, you can see them renew and get crunchy. When they are crunchy take them out of the water. Don’t leave leafy greens in the water longer than 3-4 hours, the leaves will start to turn yellow or brown and then you won’t want to eat them.

Have you tried to save your wilted veggies? What veggies have you tried? Have you found any other tricks that work for you?