NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Storing Those First Garden Goodies

Storing Those First Garden Goodies


          Those first wonderful garden veggies are ready for some early gardeners.  The first pick of the season always seems to have the best taste. To be sure that taste and quality remains high, keep the following suggestions in mind.

          For the best quality produce and to avoid throwing away spoiled produce, select an amount that you can use within a short time.  Look for produce that is free from unusual odors or colors and signs of spoilage such as mold.  Handle produce gently to reduce bruising. Bacteria can thrive in the bruised areas.

          Even though fruits, vegetables and juice are nutritious parts of the diet, there are some food safety precautions. For example, contaminated melons, sprouts and raspberries have been linked with foodborne illness outbreaks.  Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before handling produce and any other food.  Wash all fruits and vegetables with cool running tap water right before eating. Don't use dish soap or detergent because these products are not approved or labeled by the FDA for use on foods.

          Scrub melons with a brush and running water as bacteria can be transferred from the outside of the melon to the inside by a knife. Use clean utensils and cutting boards when peeling or cutting up produce. Wash cutting boards with soap and water, rinse and sanitize between uses.  A solution of 1 teaspoon bleach per quart of water is considered safe and effective.  Keep fresh cut produce cold by placing serving containers on ice. Refrigerate cut produce and use within a few days.

          All stored produce should be checked regularly for signs of spoilage such as mold and slime.  A favorite early garden favorite is asparagus.  Asparagus needs a little extra attention when storing - wrap the base of a bunch of asparagus with a moist paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Wash before using.  Try the following serving idea featuring spring asparagus.


Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Spinach and Bacon



• 8 ounces whole grain pasta, uncooked

• 1 tablespoon canola oil

• 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

• 1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed, cut in 1-inch pieces

• 1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth

• 4 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled or imitation bacon bits

• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded



1. Cook pasta according to directions on package, omitting salt. Drain. Keep warm.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add asparagus and broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked, drained pasta, spinach, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and pepper. Toss well.

3. Transfer mixture to serving dish and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Serves 4


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