They're not dead, yet.

Seasons change, people age, and vegetables get...soft. These are inevitable facts of life that we all need to accept at some point. As far as the seasons changing and signs of aging, I don’t have much advice there other than a functional wardrobe and an effective skincare regimen. However, in the world of soft, limp, not-quite-rotten-but-on-their-merry-way vegetables, I’ve got some useful intel to help you navigate this common produce dilemma. Here’s what to do when you’re starting to see some of your favorite veggies go soft, whether it’s reviving them back to their original state, or putting them to use as is.

Reviving Hard Veggies

Whether it’s celery, radishes, carrots, or parsnips, crunchy veggies like these go limp due to dehydration. From the moment they’re picked, the water that lives in the cells of these vegetables slowly evaporates (this process is only expedited by the dryness of your refrigerator), causing their rigid structure to deteriorate over time. This means that the best way to counteract this is with...WATER! Groundbreaking, I know.

For stalky vegetables, this means trimming their ends and placing them in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes, or until they’ve soaked up the H2O. From crucifers to asparagus to root veggies, this technique will do the trick. Keep in mind—for vegetables like zucchini or squash, they can tend to get moldy and limp simultaneously, so even though you *could* rehydrate them with water, that’s not going to do anything about the moldy situation. Unfortunately, at the sight of mold, that means you’re going to have to part ways with said veggie.

Carrots in Water
Credit: Satakorn/Getty Images

Reviving Leafy Veggies

In the case of a leafy green, the same logic applies. Limp, lifeless (but again, not-yet-slimy-and-gross) greens are a result of dehydration, so a quick jolt of water should bring them back to crisp life. Whether it’s kale, romaine, or whatever salad greens you happen to have, simply soak them in a bowl of cold water until the leaves are looking refreshed and brand new again.

Using Soft Veggies As They Are

If taking the time to so lovingly revive your veggies almost to their original, crisp state is asking too much, don’t worry—there are still plenty of options for your less-than-crunchy drawer of veggies. If your carrots, onions, and celery are looking rather lifeless, toss them in a pot of water with a few smashed garlic cloves and any other aromatics you want and make some veggie stock. You could also make a creamy, puréed soup out of your soft veggies, whether it be broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, or all of the above. Additionally, you could run anything from beets, carrots, kale, or celery through a juicer without having to soak them in additional water. For another tasty option, you could take a handful of soft carrots or radishes and roast them in a quick toss of olive oil, salt, and pepper for a simple and delicious sheet pan of veggies. Nobody has to know that they were a soft, sad mess when you pulled them out of the fridge.

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By Sara Tane and Sara Tane