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I help and elderly friend who has asked me to pre-prepare some vegetables for her. This way she'll be able to cook them for herself later.

I would like to know the best way to store pre-prepared vegetables such as, carrots, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower and potatoes that are not going to be cooked for 3-5 days.

Thank you.

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@purplespider welcome to Seasoned advice! On our site, we distinguish between actual answers, are intended to give you the best solution to your specific problem, and comments, which give members a lightweight mechanism to discuss details not strictly related to a possible solution. If you feel some of them are not constructive or even offensive, you can flag them and we moderators will remove them. I can assure you that those of us who know a good answer for your actual question will do so below, regardless of any side discussions happening in comments. –  rumtscho Nov 12 '12 at 15:23
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I understand your frustration with getting distracting comments on language before somebody has left a real answer, maybe it looks to you like we are not willing to help you. But I suppose that the real reason for no good answers is that your question is extremely difficult: 1) it is very broad, and 2) there is no really good technique for doing this, the more you prepare a vegetable, the quicker it goes bad. For now, I will just delete the distracting comments for you, and keep my fingers crossed that somebody comes along with suggestions for your problem. –  rumtscho Nov 12 '12 at 15:31
    
As an alternative to chopping fresh vegetables and storing them, your friend might want to look into using frozen vegetables. There are often pre-cut options available for vegetables (including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and even potatoes). –  Fisher Nov 13 '12 at 21:11
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2 Answers

It's really difficult to answer, as there are way too many variables.

  • Which vegetable?
  • What is being done to it before storage?
  • What will be done to it after storage?
  • Is it closer to 3 days, or 5 days?

For instance, let's look at carrots, one of the items that you mentioned. Cut carrots can be stored in water, in the fridge, and they'll do just fine ... but if you're going to try stir-frying them, the extra water has to be dealt with, and so that won't work (unless you remember to drain them and give them time to dry before you're going to use them.)

Brocolli's another strange one ... if you're slicing up the stalks for using later, once again, water's a good idea ... but I've never had good luck with soaking the florets, as they just take way too long to try to dry back out to use.

Potatoes are one of those things that you might want to do more than just cutting or peeling them -- I typically bake a few off to use in later dishes, like hash. (and I leave 'em whole, and cut them up as I need them). But if you're going to leave them raw, you really should put them in water, or they'll oxidize and turn brown.

The time's also another issue -- not everything can be stored for 5 days without freezing, but that brings in lots of other issues. If I blanch brocolli, 3-5 days is what StillTasty gives in the fridge. (they claim the same for raw, but I know I can keep brocolli from the farmer's market for 7 days ... part of it's buying firm heads .. if the florets give at all in the store, you're not going to get very long out of 'em).

... if it were me, I'd also try to look into what issues your friend has ... there might be tools that could help her (eg, if it's an issue that she's unsteady with a knife, could she use a box grater, food processor or mandoline for slicing things?). If it's an issue with grip, would a vegetable peeler with a larger handle give her more control?

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Joe, thank you very much for taking the time to reply, it has answered a lot of my queries but has also created some new ones! My friend is an elderly lady, she doesn't eat meat but finds preparing and cooking vegetables just for her tiny appetite too much of a chore. If the veg was already chopped she would be more likely to use it. I don't have the time to go round and prepare her meals for her every day (im a working mum of 3 kids, one of which is autistic). In your opinion do you think I would be better to cook the veg 1st so she just has to re-heat (she doesn't even have a microwave!). –  purplespider Nov 12 '12 at 10:07
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@purplespider : if you have a list of the types of meals she likes to cook, you might want to ask a question about how to do advanced prep & plan out the meals, rather than ask about the individual items. There might be other things that can be done (eg, assembling a casserole ahead to be baked later, but leaving something like a salad assembly for the last minute so she doesn't feel like she's not doing anything) –  Joe Nov 13 '12 at 14:55
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Joe's answer is pretty good, but I'll give you some specific advice on the vegetables you listed:

Carrots are fairly easy. Even precut and stored in the fridge, they will keep for several days, only gradually drying out and losing some flavor. The best way is probably vacuum-packing and freezing them, but storing them in a hard, tightly sealed container in the fridge with a paper towel on the bottom should also work fine.

Broccoli: Ideally you should lightly blanch the cut broccoli and freeze it. Short of that, I'd store it in a hard-sided container layered with paper towels to absorb moisture.

Sprouts: I'm not clear on why you're cutting up sprouts.

Cauliflower: fridge, same storage as the broccoli.

Potatoes are quite difficult, because the oxidize and turn an unsightly brown. Your only real option is to lightly blanch or microwave the cut-up potatoes and freeze them; anything else will result in them being unsightly and dull-tasting after 4 or 5 days.

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