ONE of the best things about cooking or making a salad is the aesthetic appeal about it — how the freshness of the vegetables come together to make the dish look spectacular.
This all comes to a halt though, when you realise the vegetables have wilted or shrivelled up after being in the fridge or left out for less than 24 hours.
According to people who deal with preserving vegetables on a daily basis, this process can actually be lengthened if you prepare and store your vegetables in a particular way.
Market vendor Bubu Livia, who has been selling vegetables and fruits from her stall at the Suva market for more than 20 years, said she keeps her vegetables fresh by paying attention to the needs of specific vegetables.
She explained that as a veteran market vendor, the most popular vegetables people purchase are Chinese cabbage, lettuce, carrots and eggplant.
"The most difficult one to preserve is the Chinese cabbage because people make the mistake of putting it near water," Ms Livia said.
"With this type of cabbage, the only time you should put it near water is when you're washing it to use it straight away, otherwise, keep it far away from water because water makes it rot."
She said she was able to keep her Chinese cabbage fresh and crisp for a few days by keeping it out of the fridge, where the chances of it getting wet are little.
"It's best to buy Chinese cabbage if you intend on using it that same day because it's the freshest then," she added.
An online website dedicated to the preservation of vegetables — A Veggie Venture — explained that the reason water is not good for this cabbage is because it encourages bacterial growth.
"Wash vegetables just before using them since moisture encourages mould which encourages spoilage; if you do wash beforehand, dry before putting into the fridge," the author wrote.
The author, Alanna Kellogg, says summer countries need to pay particular attention to vegetable preservation because of the constant heat the vegetables are subjected to.
This was evident once Ms Livia begun to discuss how she keeps her lettuce fresh for days, especially with the very warm weather.
"Lettuce is like the opposite of Chinese cabbage, you should keep it in water for as long as possible because it keeps it fresh," she said. "Once it gets soggy, it doesn't taste good and this is really good when the day is very hot."
In another online site dedicated to vegetable care, it suggested that leafy green vegetables (spinach, ota) be wrapped in paper so it absorbs any excess moisture.
"If the leaves retain excess moisture, they will rot quickly," the website observed.
Ms Livia gave similar advice for the storage of bele and other leafy green vegetables.
She also explained that the vegetables that keep the best were eggplant and carrots: "Because it's hard for them to hold water inside them, so they can just be kept on the counter or the bench."