how to revive limp vegetables

lettuceFood waste is one of the biggest expenses in the grocery budget and fresh produce (or not so fresh as the case usually is) tops the list of food that goes in the bin.

And of course, food in the bin means money in the bin.

While it’s better to store vegetables well so that they don’t go limp (or better yet, pick them straight out of the garden), and then eat them at their freshest, that doesn’t always happen.

The food that is bought and then thrown away uneaten in the greatest proportion is salad; in the UK 45% by
weight of all purchased salad is thrown away (60% by cost) [source].

Save limp vegetables from the bin with this one magic (and frugal) ingredient that will rejuvenate them and give them new life:


Yep, plain old water will crisp up most limp or stodgy vegetables.

Vegetables go limp because of dehydration. Once picked, water constantly evaporates through tiny pores in vegetables and their cells lose their turgidity. The dry environment of the fridge can speed this process up. That’s why keeping vegetables in the crisper can make them last longer – it’s more humid in the crisper.

But if your vegetables are looking a little flaccid, here’s how to revive them:

  • Celery – cut the bottom off the celery and place in a glass of water for 30 minutes or until crisp. Depending on how thirsty your celery is, you may need to add more water. Cut celery can be placed in a bowl of water until crisp.
  • Carrots – cut a little off the bottom of the carrot and place upright in a glass of water until crisp. For cut carrots, place them in a bowl of water.
  • Whole lettuce – if the roots are intact, you can place the whole thing in a bowl of water however, I find it much better to cut the roots off and just place the leaves in the water.
  • Salad leaves – place leaves in a bowl of water.
  • Potatoes – peel and place in a bowl of water.
  • Spinach – either stand in a glass of water or place the leaves only in a bowl of water.
  • Broccoli – trim bottom and place in a bowl or glass of water or cut florets and place in a bowl of water until crisp.
  • Asparagus – trim bottoms and place upright in a glass of water until crisp.
  • Herbs – either trim stalk bottoms and place upright in a glass of water or strip leaves from stalks and place in a bowl of water.

Some vegetables like zucchini tend to go mouldy before they go limp and this method doesn’t work so well for them.

Next time your vegetables are on a one way trip to the bin because they are looking a little past their prime, try giving them a drink – a little water may be all they need to revive and make their way to the dinner table instead.

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  1. says

    Thanks so much for this article. This week I got a bit behind on watering my pots and the silverbeet leaves wilted a lot. They refused to crisp up even after I watered the plant, so I decided to pick them and try your method. After a couple of hours they were plump and crisp again and I could use them in a stir-fry :)

  2. dale says

    I have found that placing a sugar cube in your crisper or zip lock bag with cut veg’s will last longer the sugar absorbes the moisture. Hope this help