Thursday, June 29, 2017

Made It: DIY Produce Storage Bags

Hello! I try to eat a good amount of vegetables every day, whether they be store-bought or grown by me. Thus, at any given time I typically have various lettuces, greens, sprouts and other such produce in my refrigerator. I enjoy having a variety of vegetables on hand for lunchtime salads and dinners, but this means I have to make sure my veggies stay fresh before they're eaten up. 

I've tried storing my produce in rolled-up old kitchen towels - fine, but the towels take up a lot of room in the crisper. I've used paper towels, but this seems wasteful.

Then I came across this tip somewhere (don't recall the source):

Cotton "Green" Storage Bags
  •  Make out of unbleached muslin or broadcloth
  • Cut and stitch a rectangle of about 11"w x 14"l
  • Doesn't have to have a drawstring
  • The cotton fabric allows the produce to breathe

Rather vague directions, but that's because it's very simple sewing. Here's a bit more detailed info on how I made mine:
  •  I used unbleached muslin for mine (most recent purchase of this was yesterday; paid $3.70/yd sale price at JoAnn Fabrics.)
  •  You can cut your fabric to any size you prefer. Since I favor a number of veggies with long leaves and/or stems (Romaine and leaf lettuces, kale, collards and other greens), I made bags that measure 10"w x 20"l. 
  • And for smaller produce like my home-grown sprouts, I also made smaller bags that measure 10"w x 7"l. These smaller bags are also good for transferring produce from the larger bags once some of that produce is eaten up (for example, a partially-used bunch of kale). 
  • Sewing directions: to save on sewing a side seam, I placed my patterns (made from newspaper)on the fold of doubled-over muslin. 
  • After cutting out the pattern, I opened up the fabric and sewed a narrow hem on the top edge (fold over 1/4" fabric, fold over 1/4" again, then sew this down)
  • Match edges and sew down long side and bottom edge to make bag. Use 1/4" seam.
  • I pinked the seams to prevent raveling. 
  • Turn bag to right side. 
  • To use, just place your produce in your bag and roll down the top. If the produce is too close to the top of the bag to roll down, I place the bag in a plastic bag from the grocery store produce section and roll down the top of that bag loosely. Using one of those plastic bags in this manner doesn't seem to affect the produce.
  • Machine wash and dry after each usage.
That's it! I've been using my produce bags for years now, and I can report that they work very well. My daughter apparently took notice, for she recently asked me to make her some. Here's how they turned out (I actually made her two of each size):

As I'd said, very simple sewing! But it's nice to have something so simple that works so well. 

PS I've found that the large-size bag works well when I make broth with the post-Thanksgiving turkey carcass. I put the broken-up carcass plus the vegetables and seasonings all together in the bag, tie it up with some kitchen string, and toss the bag into my soup pot along with some water. When the broth is done, I just pull the bag out and place it in a colander over a bowl to catch any broth that had seeped into the bag. This is easier than having to strain the entire pot of broth into the colander. I do reuse the bag (after emptying it out, of course). Since it's greasy from the turkey innards, I hand-wash the bag a bit in the kitchen sink with some dish soap, rinse it, then toss it in with the laundry. I reserve a bag just for this purpose.

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