Debbie Meyer GreenBags
Keeping vegetables fresh for a week is challenging. I have been using Debbie Meyer GreenBags, which contain in the plastic a mineral compound that absorbs ethylene gas. These greenbags are not magic. They are scientific. Used correctly, they will do a very good job of keeping produce fresh longer. Not for a month, no; but longer than ziplock bags, regular plastic bags, and the wrapping from the store. Here is how they work: ethylene gas is produced by the plant to cause ripening and from there continues to work to cause rotting. Decreasing the amount of this gas in contact with the vegetable slows the process. Wikipedia says:
Ethylene gas has been called ‘the ripening hormone’, and is scientifically known to perpetuate the ripening process of produce and plant material coming from a root system. – Wikipedia
One negative point is, of course, that the bags are plastic, but at least they are quite re-usable (I find, for several months). The active ingredient in the bags is zeolite—what? you don’t know what that is? Neither did I. Here’s what I found in that Wikipedia entry, when I was trying to find out if the bags might be harmful in any way.
This paragraph was the most helpful:
Environmentally, zeolites are friendly chemicals. Mentioned previously, zeolites replaced phosphates in detergents, significantly reducing water pollution globally. Zeolites have acidic properties and can replace more toxic acids in some commercial applications. They can also absorb harmful atmospheric gases such as CFC’s and gases from automobile exhaust. In water treatment, zeolites can remove harmful organics as well as heavy metal ions.
Zeolites are uniquely able to dehydrate or rehydrate without affecting their structure. They can also absorb gases (I put that in bold). Since the inner channel is an open framework, zeolites can allow a gas to flow through their structure [and get trapped]. Addition of zeolites to animal feed has been shown to absorb toxic materials. Zeolites can also remove ammonia and other toxins from aquariums. Currently there are 45 different types of natural zeolites which have been identified. Synthetic zeolites may also be prepared. This diverse group exhibits at lest 120 different structures.
This may be TMI, but I do infer that we’re not a risk for anything bad happening so long as we don’t put one of the bags over our head.
Personally, I am in awe of Carolyn Rulli, who wrote the quoted Molecule Report for her Chemistry 503 class at the University of Pennsylvania.
I have found these bags very useful in keeping vegetables and fruits fresh for up to a week. Notably arugula and baby greens. Dump them into a greenbag and leave them loose and not squished. I clip the top with a wooden clothespin, and try to remember to turn the bag and shake up the leaves a little when I go into the refrigerator. The leaves do lose water and it collects on the inside of the bag. The bags work much better when the contents stay dry. So when I take some out, I take time to empty all of the contents out of the bag and invert the bag so that the dry outside is now inside. I do that when I use some of the contents. When the bag is empty, I invert it, rinse off any plant residue, and place it over a mason jar, empty water bottle, or plastic bag dryer (see Tools in this blog) to dry for an hour or so. Then it’s ready to fold up for the next use.
Debbie Meyer Green Boxes
In addition to the green bags, there are Debbie Meyer green boxes made of plastic, which do the same absorption of ripening gas but also absorb gas which makes bread go bad. I got them to help with organizing my refrigerator. The bags with baby greens in them are rather like storing balloons on a shelf. The boxes are made especially for bread, but said to work for vegetables also. I am fairly new to these, so I will update* this paragraph as I see how they work. They do stack nicely in the fridge. I rearranged the shelves to be more accommodating for the all vegetable and fruit contents.
*Update: Well, the bags seem to work better than the boxes. I tried adding a collapsed greenbag on the bottom of the box and on top of the baby greens before I closed the box, and that helped. It is more trouble, so I went back to using the bags, and I also decided to batch cook the large leafy greens and put them in jars to be used before the next major shopping trip.
Another note: It does say in the directions for the greenbags that you don’t have to completely close the bags, and I inferred from the way it was stated that it is better to leave the bag slightly open (maybe to allow some evaporation.)
Overall, I do like using them for fresh corn, residual big pieces of onion, cucumber, and cabbage from slicing some for salad, and any refrigerated fresh vegetable like green beans or okra.