The Extra Step For Keeping Some Root Vegetables Fresh Longer

Root vegetables are popular staple items for many reasons. Common root vegetables like potatoes and carrots are nutritious, versatile ingredients, and form the basis of everything from soups and salads to mirepoix and mash. They also tend to be heartier vegetables that naturally have a longer shelf life.

That said, there are still things you can do to keep root vegetables fresh longer. First, store them in the right place — while some root vegetables like potatoes are fine in a cool and dark place, others, like carrots, prefer it a little colder and should be stored in the fridge (though many of them are included in the list of produce that last the longest in the fridge). And in the case of carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, and rutabaga, which sometimes come with their green tops still attached, there's an extra step you need to take, and that is to remove those leafy greens by cutting them down to the root of the vegetable. Otherwise, they will compete with the root for moisture, shortening the lifespan of your vegetable. You can then store the roots as is in the crisper drawer or wrapped in a plastic bag or airtight container for longer storage.

What to do with those leafy tops

Once you cut off those leafy green tops, don't toss them into the trash or compost, as you can actually make better use of them. Since food waste is a huge problem (accounting for 30% to 40% of the total food supply in the US alone, according to the US Food & Drug Administration), being able to make good use of food scraps is an ideal goal.

Carrot tops, which have a bitter and earthy flavor, can be used to overhaul your pesto and as a tasty addition to salsas, soups, salads, and smoothies. Radish greens, with a peppery bite similar to arugula, can be used in salads, pastas, and quiches, while beet greens have a mild and earthy taste and can be sautéed or enjoyed raw in a salad or smoothie. Turnip greens and rutabaga greens have a similar taste that can range from sweet to bitter and can be sautéed or used in salads and soups. Try making a stock if you have an assortment of root vegetable tops. You can also regrow many root vegetables from scraps.