Last week, vegetable prices in Hong Kong soared as cross-border truckers tested positive for coronavirus. Mainland China has always accounted for about 90% of Hong Kong’s vegetable market, according to the Hong Kong Imported Vegetable Wholesalers Association, and this time, the food supply chain faces challenges that will impact both retailers and consumers as more truckers get stuck in quarantine.
While the city hunkers down for more at-home meals and markets struggle to keep vegetables stocked and priced competitively, it will be important to keep a balanced stockpile of fresh produce and shelf-stable foods. But that doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself to canned goods and frozen foods – a little timing and proper storage can keep your fresh produce going for weeks. These fruits and veggies boast a long shelf life and are a great place to start for your next trip to the market.
Shelf life: Two to five weeks in a cool, dark dry place
Potatoes have a long standing place in history for a reason, so don’t underestimate the longevity of these spuds! Aim to keep your potatoes in a cool, dark, dry and well ventilated space – they’ll keep for two to five weeks in a pantry. Store them unpeeled and loose and if they start to sprout, cut off the sprout before consuming. But when they soften, shrivel or smell bad, it’s time to toss them.
Shelf life: Four to six weeks with the greens removed
Three cheers for root vegetables! They’ll get us through all kinds of times – if they’re stored right. If you’re buying whole beets, remove the green leaves as soon as you can so they do not pull moisture from the beet. Once removed, place your beets in a bag with small holes so moisture can escape. If you’re not going to eat them immediately, check periodically that they are still firm – once they show any softness, they need to be eaten ASAP.
Shelf life: Two to six months in the crisper
Sure, you may have seen heads of cabbages costing triple the price but these greens can be kept for a long time and are extremely versatile. Place it in your fridge crisper and it can stay fresh for as long as six months. If you only use half or part of the head, store the rest in plastic wrap in the crisper and it should stay edible for another week or so. Now is a great time to try that cabbage slaw or vegetable soup recipe!
Shelf life: One to two months whole in the crisper
Who doesn’t love a little carrot in their salad? When you get your hands on a bunch, be sure to remove the green top to ensure they don’t suck the moisture from the base. Then store them whole in the crisper drawer. Roast them, mash them, julienne them, stir fry them – the possibilities are endless!
5. Hydroponic greens
Shelf life: A couple of weeks if kept whole in the fridge
More and more, hydroponic lettuce and greens are popping up at supermarkets and wet markets alike across town. If you see these, try to take home a bunch – many times they are grown in local Hong Kong farms and when sold with the root attached, you’ll get leafy, salad-ready greens and can keep them longer than pre-packaged greens.
6. Onions and shallots
Shelf life: Weeks to months if stored in a cool, dark dry place
All varieties of onions – yellow, white and red – can last for weeks or even months if they are kept unpeeled and whole in a cool, dark, dry place with enough ventilation. Just note that if they soften or discolour, it’s time to toss them and it’s always best to keep them away from potatoes.
7. Citrus Fruits
Shelf life: Two to three weeks in the kitchen or up to two months in the fridge
Now’s the time to ramp up your Vitamin C intake so stock up on lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit! If you’re bringing these colourful orbs home, let them ripen at room temperature before storing them in the fridge. The limes and lemons, or smaller citrus fruits, will last longer than the larger ones and they taste better when served at room temperature. Also, don’t be dismayed by a shrivelled rind – the inner fruit can still be juicy and fresh!
8. Bell Peppers
Shelf life: One to two weeks
If you’re not a fan of citrus fruits or carrots, bell peppers are a great source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Plus, because of their low sugar content, they have quite a lot of staying power – and of the three, green tends to keep the longest. Make sure to store them away from moisture, ideally in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer.
Shelf life: Two weeks if ripened at room temperature then stored in fridge
Small but mighty, the blueberry has the longest shelf life of all the berries. And when you let them ripen at room temperature before storing in the fridge, they can keep for up to two weeks. They’re low maintenance too – just keep them in the box and give them a nice rinse before eating, no unboxing or crisper drawer needed.
Shelf life: Three to four weeks
Who can resist the satisfying crunch of a sweet apple? Keep them crunchy by leaving them out until they are fully ripe, then store them in the crisper drawer in a plastic bag. If you can, keep them away from strong smelling foods like onions and cheese, as they absorb odours well, and separate from cruciferous vegetables (think bok choy, broccoli, kale, cauliflower) and stone fruits as apples will speed up their ripening.
See also: 8Shades’ Guide To A Greener Lockdown
Sign up for the 8Shades weekly newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox!