How to Store Fruits and Veggies

How Do I Store My Fruits and Veggies So That They Last As Long As Possible?

Storing fruits and veggies is quick and easy! You can either freeze, refrigerate, or even keep them on the countertop depending on the fruit/veggie. We have included some storage tips and tricks below. Do you have a storage tip you’d like to share? Let us know via facebook or twitter.

In A Cool, Dry Place

Keep bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, and limes in a cool, dry area, not in the fridge.

Mushrooms can be kept in a cool, dry place and should only be washed just before use.

Eggplant should be stored in a cool area and used within a couple days of purchase.

Keep potatoes out of the fridge in a cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation.

In The Fridge

Store your apples in the fridge. They soften ten times faster at room temperature.

Most fruits and veggies can be stored in the refrigerator.

A crisper drawer will help protect your produce and keep the moisture in to maintain freshness for longer.

Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped with a moist paper towel or you can stand them up in a glass of cold water wrapped with a damp paper towel.

Store carrots in the fridge and peel them when you’re ready to use them.

Plastic bags with tiny vents help keep produce fresh longer by releasing moisture. They are great for grapes, blueberries, cherries or strawberries.

Store berries in the fridge and wash gently before eating or using.

Fresh heads of lettuce should be washed really well with water before refrigerating. Dry the leaves and store them in a clean plastic bag with a few paper towels.

Rhubarb should be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge, but it also freezes well.

In The Freezer

Freezing fruits at home is a fast and convenient way to preserve produce at their peak maturity and nutritional quality.

Freezing most vegetables at home is a fast, convenient way to preserve produce at their peak maturity and nutritional quality. Freezing is not recommended for artichokes, Belgian endive, eggplant, lettuce greens, potatoes (other than mashed), radishes, sprouts and sweet potatoes.


Peel and freeze your dark bananas in a clean plastic bag. Use them later in baking or for delicious fruit smoothies.

Freeze papaya slices or mangoes on a tray, then store in a clean plastic bag for tasty frozen snacks.

For more information download ourHome Freezing Guide

At Room Temperature

Garlic and onions should be kept at room temperature (or cooler) in a well-ventilated area.

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature and washed just before using.

Mangoes, plums, peaches, and pears can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag and should then be refrigerated for longer storage.

Store pineapple upside down for a day or two at room temperature or in the fridge to allow the sweetness to spread throughout the fruit.

Keep whole melons at room temperature. Cantaloupe can be stored at room temperature, but it will ripen quickly.

For more information download our Home Storage Guide

It would be nice if each and every fruit or vegetable you bought came with an instruction manual on how to properly store it. Since they don’t, you kind of have to figure out how to preserve your produce all by yourself.

Sometimes it seems obvious where something belongs, because of course you’re going to put delicate fresh berries and herbs in the fridge. But other times, it’s not so clear, and occasionally it’s even a point of contention (people who put tomatoes in the fridge, I’m looking at you).

Instead of throwing everything in the fridge and hoping for the best, I’ve assembled all you need to know about storing every different kind of common produce. Some things will probably make you say duh, but others may surprise you—like, did you know you shouldn’t wash Brussels sprouts until you’re ready to use them? With these tips, you’ll never make a mistake like that again.


According to Travis Nordgren, a global senior produce buyer at Whole Foods Market, you should generally avoid storing apples with anything else, because they emit a lot of ethylene, which is the gas that speeds up the ripening and decaying process. He says it’s especially important to keep them separate from bananas and citrus, which also create an abundance of ethylene. You can keep them at room temperature, but Extra Crispy reports that they’ll have a much longer lifespan (up to a month!) if you keep them in the crisper drawer of your fridge.


According to The Kitchn you’ll have the best luck with your asparagus if you trim the ends before you put them away, and then store them upright in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag. They recommend changing the water in the glass if you notice it start to become cloudy.


Avocado producers, Love One Today, say it’s best to keep avocados at room temperature, at least until they’ve ripened. Apparently, refrigerating them before that point can slow or completely halt the ripening process, in turn ruining the fruit. After it’s fully ripe, you can store it in the fridge. If it’s cut, sprinkle it with a little lemon juice and store it with the pit to prevent oxidation and keep it fresher for longer.


In my opinion, you should never refrigerate bananas, but the consensus across the web is that you can, but only after they’ve fully ripened. Like with avocados, prematurely refrigerating bananas can disrupt the ripening process. Keep it at room temperature until it begins to get brown speckles, and then transfer it to the fridge to give it a longer lifespan.


Right when you get home from the store, the first thing you should do to your beets is remove the leaves, if they were sold with any. Berkeley Wellness reports that by doing this, you’ll help prevent moisture loss from the roots, which will keep them fresher longer. Keep them in the crisper drawer and don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them.

Bell Peppers

The pepper farmers at Baloian Farms say that the best way to store bell peppers is in the fridge, unwashed. Residual moisture can cause them to rot prematurely, which is why you’re better off washing them right before you’re to use them.


Nordgren says you should always try to keep berries as cold as possible, so they definitely have to be refrigerated. “Hold off on rinsing your berries until right before eating to preserve their full flavor,” he adds. And if they come with green caps or stems (like strawberries might), he recommends leaving them on until you’re ready to eat to preserve their freshness.


Since broccoli is a winter vegetable, it’s built to withstand colder temperatures, and warmer temperatures can lead to its untimely demise. The farmers at Sweetwater Organic recommend covering your broccoli head with a moist paper towel in the crisper drawer of your fridge to keep it cool, crisp, and fresh.

Brussels Sprouts

For best results, keep unwashed Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in your fridge. That way, Bon Appétit says they should last you for up to a week—maybe even longer.


“Cabbage is best stored in the crisper drawer and should not be cut until ready for use,” says Nordgren. “If storing cut cabbage, its best to tightly wrap or bag.”


The best way to store cauliflower might come as a surprise. Even though it looks like broccoli with less color, the storing methods are quite different. What you’ll want to do with it, according to Sweetwater Organic, is wrap it in plastic or leave it in the plastic it was sold in, and store it in your crisper drawer stem side up so the head doesn’t collect moisture. Keep the head whole until you’re ready to use it, because pre-cut cauliflower doesn’t have the same staying power.


Carrots, a type of root vegetable, are sturdy and built to last. Nordgren says to keep them in a cool, dark, dry environment like your fridge, though they’ll last for awhile at room temperature too.


“Celery is best stored wrapped in aluminum foil in the crisper drawer,” says Nordgren. He explains that keeping it in plastic wrap with trap ethylene gases—the same gases apples, bananas, and citrus excrete—which can accelerate the breakdown process.

Cherries and Plums

Nordgren says that these two stone fruits will last longest if you keep them as cold as possible. He also recommends eating the cherries as soon as you can, because they gradually lose their sweetness as they get older.


Much like with melons, citrus doesn’t continue to ripen after it’s picked. So Nordgren says to always look for the most fragrant fruit you can smell out. When you get home, he recommends storing them at room temperature and away from direct sunlight, though he says you can also refrigerate them if you prefer. They’ll last for a few days to a week at room temp and up to several weeks in the fridge.


Epicurious reports that the secret to keeping a cob of corn fresh is to not let it get dry. Don’t remove the husks until you’re ready to get cooking, and store the cobs wrapped in plastic in the crisper drawer in your fridge.


Nordgren says that cucumbers are sensitive to the cold, and exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees can damage their flavor and texture. This veggie is one of the few on the list that will actually last longer if you keep it at room temperature.


Whatever you do, don’t put garlic in the fridge! In my experience, refrigeration changes the texture of the garlic for the worse. Nordgren agrees, and he says you should try to keep it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. I like to keep mine in a basket in a cool corner in my kitchen.


Unwashed grapes will last in your fridge for up to a week, according to Nordgren. Like other produce on this list, washing them before you store them can lead to premature rotting. Give them a rinse just before you’re ready to eat.


“Fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator, kept dry and bagged, or stored in a jar or glass of water,” says Nordgren. If you do decided to store them in a glass of water, make sure to trim the ends before you do.


Like bananas and avocados, you can refrigerate kiwis, but you should wait until they’ve completely ripened. If you do keep them in the fridge, they’ll stay good for up to a month, and only a few days if you don’t.

Leafy Greens

The trick to keeping leafy greens like lettuce and spinach fresh in your fridge is making sure they’re far from any moisture, safe in the confines of your crisper drawer. You’ll have the best luck if you wash and dry them fully, then store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel.


Mangoes should also be left at room temperature until they’re ripe, but can be moved to the fridge afterward. To speed up the ripening process, store them in a paper bag. This will trap the ripening ethylene gases and expedite the process.


“Whole, un-cut melons should always be stored at room temperature,” says Nordgren. After you cut the melon, he explains that it’s important to refrigerate it (preferably in an airtight storage unit) to inhibit bacterial growth.

Nectarines, Peaches, and Apricots

These three are some of the few fruits you should definitely not refrigerate. “The refrigerator acts as a dehydrator zapping moisture from these fruits,” says Nordgren. Instead, keep them in a cool spot in your kitchen.


Like garlic, Nordgren suggests keeping onions in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge because that’ll mess with their texture.


As with carrots, parsnips are a root vegetable designed to withstand cold, dry winters. So yes, they’ll last for some time in the tundra known as your crisper drawer. Nordgren recommends keeping them wrapped in plastic to extend their life.


You can store pears in either the fridge or at room temperature. They’ll last longer in the fridge, but you should avoid putting them in there until they’ve fully ripened, otherwise they may not. To preserve cut pears, sprinkle their flesh with lemon juice to prevent oxidation and keep them from browning.


Keep pineapple in the fridge, but only after it’s had a chance to fully ripen at room temperature. If uncut, wrap it in plastic before you store it in the fridge, and if cut, keep it in an airtight container.


You can keep pomegranates at room temperature or refrigerated if they’re not seeded, though the fridge will double their lifespan from one week to two, according to Bon Appetit. Keep pomegranate seeds in an airtight container and they’ll last for several days.


Like onions and garlic, Nordgren recommends keeping potatoes stored in a cool, dark place that isn’t the fridge. However, he says that you shouldn’t store them with onions, because the gasses from onions can cause the potatoes to sprout.

Summer Squash

Nordgren says it’s best to keep summer squash like zucchini in a plastic bag, stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge.


I die a little inside every time I see a tomato in someone’s fridge. Tomatoes should never go in the fridge, according to Nordgren, because refrigeration makes them soft and mushy—it’s true. Keep them at room temp out of direct sunlight.

Winter Squash

Winter squash like butternut and acorn can last uncut at room temperature for many weeks to months—I once had a pumpkin that lasted the whole winter, no joke. After you cut it, Nordgren says to store it in an airtight container in the fridge and it’ll last for a few days.

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There’s nothing worse than loading up during your weekly trip to the farmers market and then forgetting about all your goodies, only to find them languishing limply in your crisper drawer days later. To keep produce fresher for longer, follow these tips.

  1. Some fruits and veggies produce a gas called ethylene as they ripen. This gas can prematurely ripen foods that are sensitive to it, so keep ethylene-producing foods away from ethylene-sensitive foods. Avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, pears, plums, and tomatoes, for example, should be stored in a different place than your apples, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, and watermelon. Get a longer list of fruits to store separately here.
  2. Keep potatoes, onions, and tomatoes in a cool, dry place, but not in the fridge. The cold will ruin their flavor.
  3. Store unripe fruits and veggies like pears, peaches, plums, kiwis, mangoes, apricots, avocados, melons, and bananas on the counter. Once they’re ripe, move them to the fridge. Banana peels will turn dark brown, but it won’t affect the flesh.
  4. Store salad greens and fresh herbs in bags filled with a little air and sealed tightly.
  5. Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes, will do fine for up to a week in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight, but you can lengthen their lives by storing them in the fridge in a mesh or perforated plastic bag.
  6. Wrap celery in aluminum foil and store it in the veggie bin in the fridge.
  7. Other types of produce such as carrots, lettuce, and broccoli start to spoil as soon as they’re picked, so place these in separate plastic baggies in the crisper in your fridge ASAP (make sure they’re dry since moisture speeds up spoiling).
  8. Cut the leafy tops of your pineapple off and store your pineapple upside down. This helps redistribute sugars that sink to the bottom during shipping and also helps it keep longer.
  9. Avoid washing berries until right before you’re ready to eat them. Wetness encourages mold growth.
  10. If you like to wash, dry, and cut your fruits and veggies all at once, store them in covered glass containers lined in paper towels. You’ll not only be able to see them — which reminds you to eat them — but you’ll also be keeping moisture out.
  11. If you normally forget to use up fruits and veggies if you put them in the crisper, store your veggies in plain sight in Evert-Fresh or reusable produce bags that mimic your crisper’s function.
  12. Buy only what you need. Go to the market more frequently, or if that’s not possible, plan out your meals ahead of time so you only buy what you know you’ll use.
  13. If you notice any rotten produce, compost it immediately before it starts to spoil the rest of the produce.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

General storage tips for fruits and vegetables

While fruits and veggies each have their own specific storage preferences, they also have several preferences in common. To get yourself started on the right track, check what fruits are in season to make sure your favorite fruit is available. Produce always tastes best when they are in season, so learn their peak times before learning how to store fruit!

  • Immediately remove any rubber bands or ties used to keep your produce together when you get home. Leaving them on can bruise your produce.
  • Make sure to also cut off the leafy tops of root vegetables (like radishes and carrots) and store them separately. Leaving the tops on drains the moisture out of your produce and can cause the vegetables to quickly lose flavor.
  • Refrain from washing your produce unless you’re ready to eat them right away. Moisture overall is an enemy to freshness for most produce, so make sure your fruits and veggies are completely dry before storing them. Cut fruit, on the other hand, will dry up in three days and should be stored in the fridge as soon as possible.
  • The crisper, more commonly known as the fruit/vegetable drawer at the bottom of your fridge, is prime real estate for most of your fruits and vegetables. It is the coldest part of the fridge and sometimes has settings to that will let you control the humidity.

Some groups of food have specific storage preferences. See a few common preferences below.

Berries especially do not like moisture. It’s best to keep them flat on top of a paper towel on a plate or in a container that allows them to lay out on the plate in one layer. In other words, spread your berries out so they do not lay on top of each other. If you see any bad or rotten berries, make sure to toss them right away so they do not ruin the rest of the batch!

There are a few exceptions to the moisture rule. One specific exception includes vegetables that still have roots. The roots for these vegetables should be kept moist, so wrap the roots in a damp paper towel before storing in the fridge.

Another slight exception involves leafy greens. You can wash leafy greens by rinsing them with cold water prior to storage. After rinsing your greens, lay them flat on a towel or use a salad spinner to dry. Once they are completely dry, store in the fridge in an open container wrapped in a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

Why do I have to keep some fruits separate?

Some fruits emit a chemical called ethylene gas. This speeds up the ripening process for produce and can either be a good or a bad thing. It’s great if you are trying to ripen your avocados, but not so great when your peaches accidentally go bad. This is why it’s important to pay attention to where you store fruits in your home and even more important to store fruits and vegetables separately.

Here’s a list of some fruits that produce a lot of ethylene gas that you should keep separate from other produce:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Only put these high ethylene-producing fruit near your unripened produce if you’re trying to accelerate the ripening process. You can speed up the process even more by sticking them inside a brown paper bag to concentrate the ethylene-gas in a contained area.

Where to store fruits and vegetables

Below we give you detailed storage information for your fruits and vegetables and include approximately how long they’ll stay fresh. You can also jump down to the fruit and vegetable chart if you just need to take a quick glance to know how to store fruit and veggies!

Keep in mind that approximations are under the assumption that the fruit and vegetables are already ripe, uncut, unpeeled and in its most ideal storage location. You should learn how to pick the best fruit when you’re out running errands so you have a better chance of picking up the tastiest fruit. You should also always double-check your fruit for mold or blemishes before consuming to stay on the safe side!


Name Days Fresh Notes
Apples 3 weeks Store in crisper in separate ventilated plastic bag, can last about 2 weeks at room temperature
Bell peppers: Green 1 week
Bell peppers: Red, yellow, orange 5 days Store in a plastic bag in the crisper
Blackberries 2 days Spread in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate or container, toss any bad berries
Blueberries 1 week Spread in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate or container, toss any bad berries
Cantaloupe 5 days
Cherries 3 days Store in crisper
Clementines 5 days Store in crisper
Cranberries 1 month
Grapefruit 3 weeks Can store on counter for up to a week
Grapes 5 days Toss any bad grapes, store in the back of the fridge, cut and separate some of the vines to help with air circulation
Honeydew 5 days
Lemons 3 weeks Store in a plastic bag, can last up to a week at room temperature
Limes 3 weeks Store in a plastic bag, can last up to a week at room temperature
Oranges 2 weeks Can last up to a week at room temperature
Pomegranates 3 weeks
Raspberries 3 days Spread in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate or container, toss any bad berries
Strawberries 3 days Store in the crisper, spread in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate or container, toss any bad berries
Tangerines 1 week
Name Days Fresh Notes
Artichokes 1 week Sprinkle stems with water and store in a plastic bag
Arugula 5 days
Asparagus 3 days Trim ends and wrap top with a damp paper towel
Beets 3 weeks Remove leaves and store in a plastic bag
Broccoli 1 week Store loosely in a ventilated plastic bag
Brussels sprouts 1 week Store in a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper
Cabbages 2 weeks Store in the crisper, can last up to a week at room temperature
Carrots 2 weeks Cut off leafy tops, place in closed container wrapped in a damp towel
Cauliflower 1 week Store loosely in a plastic bag with the stem down to prevent moisture from getting to the head
Celery 2 weeks Place in a cup of shallow water or wrap in aluminum foil
Chard 3 days Store in a ventilated plastic bag
Chili peppers 2 weeks
Corn 3 days Keep in husk until ready to eat
Cucumbers 5 days Wrap in a paper towel and store inside a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper
Green beans 1 week Store in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper
Jicama 1 week
Kale 3 days Wrap in paper towels and store in sealed plastic bag in the crisper
Leeks 1 week Store in a ventilated plastic bag
Lettuce heads 5 days Wrap in dry paper towels and store in a plastic bag
Radishes 2 weeks Remove leaves and store in a sealed plastic bag
Rutabaga 2 weeks Store in a plastic bag
Snow peas 4 days Store in a ventilated plastic bag, leave in pods until ready to eat
Spinach 3 days Store with dry paper towels in a sealed contianer
Summer squash 5 days Store in a ventilated bag in the crisper
Turnips 2 weeks Store in the crisper
Zucchini 5 days Store loosley in ventilated bag

Counter to Fridge

These fruit can’t ripen in the fridge, so keep them on the counter to ripen then move to the fridge to prolong freshness. Remember to also keep these fruit out of direct sunlight while they sit on the counter.

Name Days Fresh
Apricots 5 days
Avocados 3 days
Bananas 5 days
Kiwis 4 days
Mangoes 4 days
Nectarines 5 days
Papaya 1 week
Peaches 5 days
Pears 5 days
Pineapples 5 days
Plums 5 days


Most vegetables in this category should live in dark, dry and cool areas with good ventilation.

Name Days Fresh
Garlic 2 months
Onions 2 months
Potatoes, New or fingerling 5 days
Potatoes, Red, russet or yukon gold 3 weeks
Sweet potatoes 2 weeks
Winter squash 3 months
Yams 2 weeks

How to store fruits and vegetables chart

Peruse through our chart below if you want to quickly reference how to store fruit and vegetables after a quick stop at the grocery store!

Learning how to store fruit and vegetables can help you save time, money and space in both your fridge and your counter. The best rule of thumb to follow is to eat your produce as soon as possible and not to pick up more than you can eat! While you’re waiting for your fresh produce to ripen, you can also pick up some dipped berries or dipped cherries to indulge your sweet tooth.

Simple Rules for Storing Fruits and Vegetables

When you’ve returned home after selecting the season’s finest bounty there’s no point keeping it in sub-optimal conditions only to throw it into a fridge-clearing soup or even worse, the bin. Follow a few simple rules, keep that produce in tip-top condition and enjoy crispy carrots and springy silverbeet all week.

The key to storing produce is learning about ethylene. It’s the hormone emitted by produce as it ripens. Ripe apples and bananas are massive ethylene emitters which is why you put them in a paper bag with produce you want to ripen. However, some produce, like leafy greens and asparagus, are more sensitive to ethylene and will deteriorate quickly if stored nearby. Last year Choice released a handy chart covering the ethylene emission and ethylene sensitivity of a variety of fruit and veg and having this stuck on the fridge will save you a lot of spoiled food.

Get the most out of your fresh produce.

Always store fruit and vegetables separately. Fruit emits much more ethylene than vegetables and

vegetables are much more sensitive to ethylene than fruit, so, always store fruit and vegetables in separate drawers. Otherwise you’ll understand why they say ‘one bad apple will spoil the whole barrel’.

Divide all fruit and veg into those that like the cold and those that don’t.

The Perfect Banana Photo: Quentin Jones


Out of the fridge

If a fruit grew in the tropics then you can happily assume it won’t like the cold. Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, melons, lychees, pomegranates, coconuts, mangosteen, guava and papaya prefer the fruit bowl. Watermelon, however, prefers to be alone, it’s highly sensitive to ethylene and will deteriorate much faster in company. Grapes are similarly sensitive.

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In the fridge

Fruits which prefer the cold or will last a decent time if kept in the fridge include apples, pears, berries, grapes and oranges. Strangely, although you can freeze every other variety of orange, if you freeze a navel orange it will turn bitter.

Then there are those that like the best of both worlds. Avocados can be tricky but your best bet, if you find a bargain and want to buy in bulk, is to leave them on the bench until almost ripe then stash them in the fridge and bring them out for a day’s ripening as you need them.

Stone fruits are a particular lot and if you refrigerate them before they are ripe they will turn mealy and lose flavour. However, once they are ripe you can keep them in the crisper for a couple of days. Just remember to always bring fruit to room temperature for eating so you get the best flavour.

Fresh red tomatoes whole and green salad. Photo: Idijatullina Veronika


Out of the fridge

Potatoes store best in dirt, it’s a natural preservative, instead of digging storage mounds outside like it’s the olden days just be happy to buy unwashed potatoes and store them dirty somewhere very dark. Onions like somewhere dark with good air circulation, whole pumpkins and sweet potatoes are also best stored this way.

In the fridge

Shallot onions. Photo: Getty Images

All the hardy greens like silverbeet and kale like a bit of humidity to keep them fresh and love to be wrapped in a damp cloth in the crisper. Delicate greens like lettuce and rocket, however, will turn to mush at the first sign of water, make sure these ones are stored wrapped in a dry cloth in the fridge. Although root veg look pretty with their green leaves make sure you remove the tops, otherwise the leaves will continue to grow causing the root to soften and lose flavour.


Herbs divide into three main groups. In the first are the ones who hate water, these are usually the ones that grow in dry soil. Think thyme and rosemary, they will go mouldy when damp. In the second are the ones who hate the cold and love being on the bench in a glass of water, summery herbs like basil and mint. Then there are the rest who like to be damp so are best wrapped in damp paper or a damp tea towel and put in the fridge, parsley, oregano, chives and coriander fall into this category. You can also put them in a glass of water in the fridge covered with a plastic bag but changing the water everyday can be a drag.

When you’ve forgotten to unpack the shopping

A tip that will save you money is that many veg will come back to life if left in a bowl of very cold water for a while. It’s exciting to watch the saddest silverbeet and salad mix saved and floppy carrots re-crisp overnight. Storing carrots in water will keep them crisp a long time and prepped carrots, celery and capsicums kept in a container of water won’t dry out and bend, they’ll be lunchbox-ready all week.

Fruits and veggies can rot quickly because of a pesky gas called ethylene. Here are the items you should never store together.

  • If freshly bought bananas, melons, or greens rot quickly in your kitchen, you’re probably storing your produce incorrectly.
  • Some fruits (and a few vegetables) emit a gas called ethylene, which breaks down chlorophyll, the chemical that keeps plants green and helps them make energy.
  • Some fruits and vegetables make lots of ethylene, some wither in its presence, and some are unaffected.
  • Here’s where to store produce to prevent rot and decay.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you’ve ever bought bananas, avocados, apples, or greens only to find them rotting the next day, take note: You could be storing the wrong fruits and veggies together.

Many fruits produce a barely detectable chemical called ethylene as they ripen. Too much ethylene can lead to a loss of chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants (and their bounty) green and allows them to convert light into energy. When chlorophyll breaks down, leafy greens turn yellow or brown.

The more ripe an ethylene-producing fruit or vegetable is, the more gas it produces. If certain produce items are nearby, the gas will lead them to ripen more quickly as well. (Even some fruits and veggies that don’t naturally produce ethylene may have been sprayed with the chemical to make them ripen faster.)

To help you figure out which fruits and veggies to keep apart, we’ve compiled a list of produce items that you should store on their own, foods to keep away from other fast-ripening produce, and fruits and veggies that you can store virtually anywhere.

vijay chennupati/Flickr

Store ethylene producers alone

These fruits and vegetables give off a lot of ethylene gas and are also pretty susceptible to it. They should all be stored separately:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas (If you want to slow the ripening process down, place plastic wrap over the stems. This should keep the ethylene from getting released.)
  • Melons, including cantaloupe and honeydew
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Pears
  • Persimmon
  • Plantains
  • Tomatoes

Other items produce lots of ethylene but aren’t very sensitive to it. These can be stored all together, but should be kept away from other ethylene-sensitive produce:

  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Bruised or damaged potatoes

However, if your bananas, avocados, or other ethylene-sensitive items aren’t quite ripe enough, feel free to snuggle them up together. If one piece of fruit is going bad, though, consider moving it away so that it doesn’t speed up decay for the others.

Flickr / jules

Store ethylene-sensitive fruits and veggies away from ethylene producers

These fruits and veggies don’t make a lot of their own ethylene, but are sensitive to it:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Grapes
  • Leafy greens, like spinach or kale
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

Store anywhere

These fruits and veggies don’t emit or react much to ethylene gas, so you can store them anywhere:

  • Bell peppers
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • Cherries
  • Citrus fruits, like lemons, limes, and oranges
  • Corn
  • Garlic
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
  • Undamaged potatoes
  • Pineapples

If you’re looking for a quick way to remember these rules, it’s mostly fruits that produce lots of ethylene, while vegetables are more likely to wither in their presence.

To refrigerate, or not to refrigerate

Refrigeration can be a controversial, since unlike rot, it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. There are some good rules of thumb, though.

The following foods should not be stored in the fridge:

  • Cucumbers (unlike most veggies, they will actually rot faster in the fridge)
  • Garlic
  • Melons (when whole and uncut)
  • Onions
  • Potatoes

If you’re not going to use them within a day or two, the following foods will last longer in the fridge:

  • Apples (but remember to store them separately from other produce — they’re big ethylene emitters)
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Leafy greens, like spinach or kale
  • Melons (when cut — they can grow bacteria if unrefrigerated)

Most vegetables should be stored in a crisper drawer to avoid moisture that could cause rot or wilting.

In general, all fruits and vegetables need to breathe. Don’t squish them too close together, and if you put them in plastic bags, make sure there are air holes.

There’s nothing better than hitting up a farmers market (or well-stocked produce aisle)—and nothing worse than realizing that your bounty has rotted in the crisper drawer. Knowing what to buy and how to store it makes all the difference when it comes to keeping your fridge stocked with greens and veggies all year long. BA test kitchen assistant Gaby Melian used to work as a produce supervisor at the Institute of Culinary Education’s purchasing department and she keeps a close eye on the produce in our test kitchen as well. Here are her five best tips for selecting and storing the hardiest greens, herbs, vegetables, and fruits.

1. Take your time picking out produce

“You need to pick good produce, or it doesn’t matter how you store it,” says Melian. If you bring home a bad apple or wilted bunch of kale, no amount of refrigeration or prep will save it.

2. Stocking up? Reach for root vegetables.

“Carrots, beets, daikon, turnips—most crunchy root vegetables really—those things will last forever (read: a week or two) in the fridge,” says Melian, as long as you buy them fresh. After purchasing, it all comes down to prep. She removes carrot tops and beet greens and stores them separately to prevent the greens from pulling out the root’s moisture. As a rule, it’s best to avoid pre-washing produce, because moisture can lead to spoilage. One exception are leeks and asparagus, which can be stored upright, with the cut end submerged in about an inch of water.

Keep pod vegetables and small squash like zucchini in resealable bags, and stash root vegetables like carrots in sealed plastic bags. Sweet potatoes and gourds like squash and pumpkin also last for a few weeks and don’t require refrigeration or prep. Just store them in your go-to cool, dark place… and don’t forget about them.

3. When it comes to greens, think sturdy.

Lettuces are notoriously fragile, but sturdy greens like kale and collards can stay fresh for about a week if stored properly. “You want to take off the rubber band it comes with, because it compresses the leaves,” says Melian. “And when storing produce in plastic bags, leave them untied so the produce can breathe.” Kept tightly wrapped in plastic, bitter chicories like radicchio and endive will also stay fresh in the fridge’s crisper drawer for about a week.

4. Treat herbs with care.

Most herbs are quite delicate, but rosemary and thyme are the sturdiest of the bunch. For all herbs, proper storage is key for elongating shelf life. “Before you use them, roll up your herbs in a slightly damp paper towel, and place the bundle in a resealable plastic bag,” says Melian. Then, remove and wash herbs on an as-needed basis to keep the whole bunch fresh.

5. Reach for longer-lasting fruits.

Summer fruits seem to rot in a heartbeat, but citrus and apples can hang out in the fridge for at least a couple weeks. Just be sure you’re selecting blemish-free fruits, especially when buying in bulk. If there’s one bad apple in the bushel, well, it really can spoil the whole bunch. Fruits like apples produce ethylene gas when ripe, which prompts all the other apples to ripen too. This ripening effect means it’s best not to store quick-ripening fruit to close to other produce. If your fridge isn’t spacious enough for total separation, reserve the crisper drawer for the delicate stuff. Turns out, an organized fridge doesn’t just look pretty—it’s the secret to fresher and more delicious food.

How to Store Your Produce So It Lasts Longer

As you flip through the pages of Food52’s new cookbook Mighty Salads, you’ll notice right away that fresh produce is at the heart of any mighty salad—whether it’s a leafy salad strewn with grilled mushrooms and figs, a couscous salad that puts spring’s best baby artichokes center stage, or a steak salad made whimsical by a tangle of peppery greens, herbs, and charred red onions.

Shopping for beautiful produce is often the easy (and fun) part, especially at the height of the growing season when farmers markets are spilling over with ripe peaches, fat tomatoes, and zucchinis galore. But after you get your bounty home, that’s when reality sinks in. You may wonder: What was I thinking? I bought enough produce for a family of eight, not four! How can I fit all of this into my refrigerator? Should I just take a nap now?

I faced these questions many times over in the process of developing new recipes for Mighty Salads. Before diving into this project, I was a little lackadaisical about produce storage. But with 30 recipes to create (and test, and test again) over a six-month period, I had to be more intentional about creating strategies that allowed me to do my shopping over the weekends, and make Mighty Salads all week long.

While I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules for produce storage, there are good rules-of-thumbs to follow. My approach begins with two similar but distinct questions:

1. What steps need to be taken as soon as I get my produce home (e.g. washing)?
2. What is the best storage method for each type of produce to ensure maximum freshness?

home from the market

You’ve made it home from the farmer’s market or the grocery store. Here’s what you need to know:

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  • Remove twisty ties, rubber bands, or other fasteners from your produce to prevent bruising and poor circulation.
  • Cut the green, leafy tops from radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, etc. They draw moisture out of the vegetables, causing them to go limp and lose flavor. Store the greens separately in a plastic or mesh bag. (And put them to good use!)
  • Hold off on washing or cutting produce ahead of time because it’ll deteriorate faster. (One exception is berries, believe it or not! They’ll last longer if given a diluted vinegar bath.) If pre-washed and ready-to-go produce makes meal prep easier, then go for it—just know that your produce won’t last as long. I typically limit my pre-washing to sturdy, leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and the like) because I’m much more likely to grab them mid-week if I’ve washed and separated the leaves from the stems. I don’t recommend pre-washing tender greens (like watercress or mache) or soft herbs—their leaves are too delicate to withstand multiple handlings or any trapped moisture.
  • If you choose to pre-wash, make sure to dry produce as well as possible; a salad spinner makes quick work of this step.

Storing produce to ensure freshness

There are three places to store produce: the fridge, the countertop, or a cool room or pantry. Each fruit or vegetable has its own preferred place.

Photo by James Ransom

For the fridge:

Most vegetables need a slightly humid yet breathable environment to stay fresh, and are happier if stored in something versus tossed in the fridge. (Note: If your tender greens still have the roots attached, wrap them in a damp paper towel before storing them.) Below are three storage options for the fridge that all work.

  • Mesh or cloth bags. Food52 recently sent me some of Vejibags’ Fresh Vegetable Storage Bags to test (newly available in their Shop!), in a few different sizes. To use them, you wet the bag, wring it so it is just damp, then place your produce (washed or not) inside. Made from organic cotton, they’ve kept my produce fresher, for longer, than plastic storage bags due to their breathability. I prefer the x-large size, because it’s big enough for even monster-sized bunches of chard or collards. The key to success with these bags is keeping them damp by sprinkling them with water every few days.

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  • Plastic storage bags. Toss the thin grocery store produce bags unless you’re using the contents within a day; they’re too porous to hold in moisture and keep produce fresh. Plastic sealable storage bags, in either quart or gallon-size, work well. If I’ve pre-washed my produce, I usually nestle a dry paper towel down in the bag to wick up excess moisture—and I’ll do the opposite by inserting a damp paper towel when I haven’t pre-washed. It’s important to leave the plastic bag partially unsealed, or poke holes in it so moisture isn’t trapped. And absolutely re-use your plastic bags! Rinse them after using if needed, and put them to use again and again.
  • Salad spinner. As Kristen wrote about here, if you can make room in your fridge for a salad spinner, lettuces and delicate salad greens will last up to a month. I’m 100 percent confident that this method works, but sadly, I’ve never had the opportunity to try it out because there’s never, ever enough room in my fridge.

Once you’ve decided on your storage vessel, into the fridge your produce goes. But not all areas of the fridge are created equal, and there is a strategy to using the space wisely.

  • The crisper, the coldest and most humid part of the refrigerator, is valuable real estate. These are the vegetables (stored in the aformentioned cloth or plastic bag) that get first dibs in mine: broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn (with husks), green beans, and leafy greens. And did you know that celery does best when wrapped in foil? Neither did I until reading this article.
  • The top shelves near the front are the warmest part of the fridge. Keep your bagged cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini there, as they are the most sensitive to cold temperatures.

And a few more handy tips for refrigerator storage:

  • Some vegetables prefer a little more TLC. For the happiest asparagus and scallions, treat them like fresh flowers by storing them upright in a jar, with the ends submerged in a small amount of water and the tops loosely draped with an inverted plastic bag. The same idea applies for many herbs.
  • Pack your produce as loosely as you can in the fridge, and store fruit and vegetables separately. Most fruit releases ethylene gas which will cause produce in close proximity to spoil and lose flavor.
  • If you’ve bought packaged produce, such as bagged or boxed lettuce, there’s typically no need to transfer them to new packaging. And one word of advice on that triple-washed lettuce: yes, wash it before eating. I know it’s tempting to use it straight from the bag, but packaged lettuces can harbor harmful bacteria. Plus, a dunk in cold water will crisp it up.
  • For a particularly big haul from the market, put a sticky note on your fridge listing all of the produce you need to use up, in order of perishability. (Or maybe there’s an app that does this? If not, there should be!) Check out this nifty chart for which produce you should eat first. If you’re like me, despite my best intentions, something is likely to get pushed to the back of the fridge where it’s forgotten. I find it’s helpful to rearrange the produce in my fridge every few days, to make sure I’ve accounted for everything.

For the countertop:

Avocados, basil, bananas, citrus, eggplant, non-cherry stone fruit, pears, pineapple, mangoes, melons, tomatoes

  • Most fruit—avocados, peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, etc.—should be left on the counter to ripen (in a pretty bowl perhaps?). You can transfer fully ripe fruit to the fridge to prolong its freshness, but return it to room temperature before consuming for best flavor. And should you ever refrigerate tomatoes? This article lays out pretty compelling evidence that refrigeration does minimal harm once tomatoes are fully ripe. But I’ll admit, I can’t bring myself to put any tomatoes in the fridge.
  • Confused about whether or not to refrigerate citrus? Me too. According to this article, the bottom line is that it’s fine to refrigerate, but like the fruits above, citrus tastes best when returned to room temperature. I find this last step of taking the chill off more important for oranges and tangerines I’m eating out of hand, versus lemons and limes I’m using as part of a recipe.
  • Eggplant should be stored on the countertop rather than in the fridge, which I’ll admit doesn’t seem intuitive. If exposed to cold temperatures, eggplant’s texture and flavor deteriorate quickly. Just make sure your eggplant has some personal space on the countertop away from tomatoes, avocados, and other fruit that produce ethylene gas.

For a cool room or pantry:

Apples, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, shallots, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squashes

  • Moisture is the enemy for most fruit and vegetables that need cool storage. Remember to keep fruit and vegetables separate (and potatoes and onions, too) to prolong freshness, and store in a cardboard box or basket lined with newspaper to absorb any moisture until you’re ready to use. Apples are a bit more forgiving of the cool, dry storage rule: they also fare well in the crisper drawer, draped loosely with a damp paper towel.

What to do with expiring produce

Even when fastidiously following all of these rules-of-thumb, life just has a habit of getting in the way. If you open your fridge to discover wilting greens or produce that’s quickly going downhill (but hasn’t spoiled or gone slimy), you still have options!

Here are a few ways to use up less-than-mighty produce:

  • Try reviving greens, herbs, radishes, and more by soaking them in icy water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Slicing them first will maximize water absorption and crispness.
  • Pound greens and herbs into a green sauce or pesto (this kale salsa verde and Genius herb jam are two favorites of mine).
  • Fry herbs for mighty salads! Hot oil doesn’t discriminate between perfect and not-so-perfect herbs.
  • Or even easier, make herb oil by whirling wilty herbs with olive oil in a blender.
  • Make a big batch of vegetable soup or stock.
  • Roast (or simmer) root vegetables until tender, then purée or coarsely mash.
  • Make Genius roasted applesauce (with all apples or a mix of apples and pears).
  • If all else fails, then compost! Head here for 3 ways to start composting.
  • Plenty more ideas here!

Mighty Salads, the new cookbook from Food52, and the clever Vejibags that EmilyC tried are both available in our Shop!

What are your first steps when getting produce home from the market or grocery store?

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t been particularly great about keeping fresh fruit in the house lately. And it’s not because I don’t like fruit, because I do! It’s mostly because when I do keep fruit in the house, I usually end up throwing half of it away because it goes bad before I can use it all. But the warmer weather we’ve been having lately has inspired me to redouble my efforts to eat better, so I decided I needed to solve the fruit problem once and for all.

I did some digging around online for answers, and it turns out that my fruit problem stemmed from how I was storing it. Little did I know that keeping fruit in a ceramic bowl was such a no-no! Apparently, using a solid bowl or container for fruit doesn’t allow for enough air circulation, which makes the fruit go bad more quickly. So what is the best way to store fruit? A fruit basket! And here are a few reasons why.

3 Reasons Why You Should Store Fruit In A Fruit Basket

1. Air Circulation. An open basket allows the gases from the fruits to escape into the air, rather than getting trapped and causing the fruit to age more rapidly.

2. Visibility. A basket give you a good view of what fruits you have inside, so you can easily know what you have. And if you see the fruit, you’re much more likely to eat it while it’s still fresh!

3. Room Temperature. Your fruits can sit out on the countertop in a basket without requiring refrigeration. The only fruits that need to be refrigerated are berries and fruits that have been cut.

Once I had learned that a fruit basket was the way to go, I started shopping online for one. I ended up finding several good options that could work for a variety of home and kitchen situations. Here are some of the best and most affordable ones I found:

8 Fun & Functional Fruit Baskets

1. 2-Tier Fruit Stand $18

This is the fruit basket I ended up buying. It has two-tiers, which can hold a surprising amount of food! It’s under $20, and it looks nice on my countertop.

2. Fruit Tree Bowl With Banana Hanger $16

This fruit bowl is similar to the one above, but instead of having a second bowl on top, it has a hanger that’s perfect for bananas!

3. Three-Tier Wire Market Basket $50

If a tiered design is your thing, then check out this cute design! This one stands tall at 48″ and has 3 separate baskets, so you have plenty of room for all the fresh fruit your heart desires! 🙂 You can use the other baskets to store things like potatoes, onions, garlic, or other foods!

4. 3-Tier Hanging Basket $13

If you’re short on counter space, try a hanging fruit basket! This one has 3 tiers for all your produce, and would add a cute decor element to your kitchen too.

5. 2-Tier Dish Drying Rack $30

This one doesn’t technically count as a fruit basket, but it can certainly make a great one if you’re willing to think outside the box! You can use this rack as a place to wash, dry, and display your fresh fruit!

6. Mesh Apple Fruit Basket $11

If fruit flies are a concern for you, check out this covered model! It has a mesh dome that sits on top, which allows for air flow but will also keep the flies away. And the best part is that the whole thing looks like an apple! 🙂

7. Fruit & Vegetable Hanging Storage Mesh Bags – 5 count $10 (2 count)

Another design that saves on counter space are these hanging mesh storage bags. The mesh material allows for air flow, and there’s a hole near the bottom to remove what you need. Place new fruits or vegetables in the bag through the top, so you’re always using the oldest items first.

8. Fruit And Veggie Hammock $11

And finally, the last “basket” I wanted to share is this cute fruit and veggie hammock! Hang it up under a cabinet and your fruit will stay fresh (and relaxed!) for days! 🙂

I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.

Hi, I’m Jillee!

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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Bright Ideas

How to Store Fresh Produce So It Lasts Longer and Stays Fresh

Photo: amriphoto / Getty Images

You stocked your grocery cart with enough fresh fruits and veggies to last you all week (or more)-you’re all set for meal-prepped lunches and dinners, plus healthy snacks to have on hand. But then Wednesday rolls around and you grab a tomato for your sandwich, and it’s all mushy and starting to rot. Meh! So, should you have put the tomato in the refrigerator? Or did it just ripen too quickly because of where you stored it on the counter?

No one wants to waste food (and money!). Plus, all that planning you did for your healthy meals feels like wasted effort if you go to make a smoothie and find that your spinach is wilted and your avocado is all icky inside. Not to mention, mold and bacteria can pose some real tummy troubles if food is not stored properly. (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth Is the Digestive Disorder That Could Be Causing Your Bloating)

Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D., and author of The MIND Diet shares how you should really be storing your fresh produce so it stays fresher for longer, whether it’s the fridge, the cabinets, the counter, or some combo. (Plus take a step back and learn how to pick the best fruit at the store in the first place.)

Foods to Store In the Fridge

The Quick List

  • apples
  • apricots
  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • berries
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • cherries
  • corn
  • cut fruits and veggies
  • figs
  • grapes
  • green beans
  • herbs (with exception of basil)
  • leafy greens
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • radishes
  • scallions and leeks
  • yellow squash and zucchini

Storing these foods in the chillier fridge temps will preserve flavor and texture, and prevent bacteria growth and spoiling. And if you’re wondering whether to wash them first, Moon says that just about all produce should be washed right before eating for maximum freshness time.

However, lettuce and other leafy greens don’t have natural preservatives to hold them up so they “can be washed and dried well, then loosely wrapped in slightly damp paper towels and stored in a ventilated plastic bag,” she says. (A great way to use up those extra leafy greens hanging around in the produce drawer? Green smoothies-these recipes range from sweet to really green, so you’re bound to find something you love.)

And if you’ve been storing your apples in a fruit bowl on the counter, get this: “Apples soften 10 times faster at room temperature,” she says. Pre-cut fruit will need to be refrigerated immediately. “Refrigerate all cut, peeled, or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible to prevent spoilage,” she says. Exposing the flesh of say, a sliced pear, will speed up the spoilage process. Finally, store fruits and veggies in separate plastic bags.

Foods to Leave On the Counter

The Quick List

  • banana
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • garlic
  • lemon, lime, and other citrus fruits
  • melon
  • onion
  • papaya
  • persimmon
  • pomegranate
  • potato
  • pumpkin
  • tomato
  • winter squash

You’ll want to store these foods at room temperature in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight. Also, foods such as garlic, onions (red, yellow, shallots, etc.), and potatoes (Yukon, Russet, sweet) should be stored in a cool, dark place with good ventilation, says Moon. (Related: Purple Sweet Potato Recipes That Could Dethrone Millennial Pink)

“The cold can prevent these foods from reaching their full potential for flavor and texture,” she says. “For example, bananas won’t get as sweet as they should, sweet potatoes will taste off and won’t cook evenly, watermelon loses flavor and color after a few days in the cold, and tomatoes will lose flavor.”

Foods to Ripen On the Counter, Then Refrigerate

The Quick List

  • avocado
  • bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • jicama
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • nectarine
  • peach
  • pear
  • pineapple
  • plum

These foods will do well on the counter as they ripen for a few days, but should be refrigerated after that point to retain their freshness, says Moon. (Not like you need help eating all your avocados before they go bad, but juuuust in case, here are eight new ways to eat avocado.)

“These fruits and vegetables become sweeter and more flavorful at room temperature, and then can be refrigerated for a few days, which extends the life without losing that flavor,” she says.

Ever have a rock-solid avocado and a hankering for guacamole at the same time? Stinks, doesn’t it? The good news is you can actually speed the ripening process of avocados and other produce simply by storing them together. “Some fruits and veggies give off ethylene gas over time as they ripen, and others are quite sensitive to this ethylene and will degrade when they come into contact with it,” says Moon. Apples are a known culprit for releasing ethylene gas, so storing a hard avocado near an apple (or even putting them in a paper bag together to “trap” the gas) can speed up the ripening of both. This is the catch though: While the apple will speed up the avocado’s ripening, all that ethylene swirling around will speed up the apple’s deterioration, as well. Storing each kind of fruit and vegetable separately maximizes the life of your produce, says Moon.

  • By By Isadora Baum

We could each save around £230 on our annual grocery bill if we reduced the amount of edible food we throw away at home. This is based on figures from WRAP, the organisation that tackles waste and promotes sustainability. And that £230-a-year saving increases to around £540 for the average household – even more if you have children.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of throwing away what was once perfectly good food. Imagine you’ve just done your weekly grocery shop. As you try to find room in the fridge for your new purchases, you discover a sad assortment of leftover, unloved and tired-looking fruit and veg, which finds itself banished to the food waste bin. With a little know-how, however, this is a scenario that can be avoided. Here’s how…

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Related Story

1. Keep salad crisp

You can make bagged salad last longer by transferring the leaves to a bowl or storage container, placing a couple of sheets of kitchen paper on top and tightly wrapping the whole thing with clingfilm to exclude as much air as possible. This will help it to stay crisp and prevent the leaves from wilting in the fridge.

If you’ve bought a whole lettuce, remove the individual leaves and leave them to soak in a bowl of cold water for a couple of hours. Rinse them, shake off the excess water (or use a salad spinner) then spread the leaves out on a clean muslin or tea towel before rolling it up. Pop the whole thing into a large, airtight food storage box and keep it in the fridge. You’ll be surprised how long the leaves stay crisp and fresh and you’ll have a supply of pre-washed leaves to hand whenever you want to whip up a green salad.

2. Chop and freeze

Chop spring onions and freeze them inside an empty water bottle. Once they’re frozen, simply shake out what you need and return the rest to the freezer.

3. Veggie vase

Wrap damp paper towels around the bases of your asparagus or herbs, or try storing them upright in a glass with about an inch of water. This will keep them hydrated and slow down wilting.

4. No more floppy herbs

Chop any leftover herbs and store in an ice cube tray, fill with water and place them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, just pop as many cubes as you need into your cooking.

Related Story

5. Beautiful berries

Don’t wash berries before storing them – it just makes them more likely to spoil, as the dampness encourages bacteria growth.

6. Give them space

Don’t store fruit and veg together. Many fruit, such as bananas, avocados and peaches, produce ethylene gas, which acts like a ripening hormone and can speed up the ripening process of other produce.

istetianaGetty Images

7. Storage solution

Avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples and pears will continue to ripen if left out on a countertop, whereas fruits such as grapes, citrus and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated.

8. Ripe and ready

Allow stone fruit, such as nectarines and mangos, to ripen in a fruit bowl and then move them to the fridge once they’re soft enough to eat to help preserve them.

Related Story

9. Cut carefully

Once you’ve cut fruit and vegetables, they rapidly soften and can go bad even in a cold fridge.

Protect them with a reusable stretch food cover. This is better for the planet than clingfilm and flexible enough to create an airtight seal around your produce to give it the longest life.

Fresh food storage heroes

OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner OXO £27.99 Sistema KLIP IT Container Sistema £11.99 2 Silicone 18 Hole Ice Cube Trays Lakeland £4.99 ZINUO Reusable Stretch Lids ZINUO £9.37

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The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies

Are you wasting food because it ripens-then rots-faster than you can eat it? (We’re sheepishly raising our hands along with you.) Storing food the right way can make all the difference. Ethylene, a natural gas that’s released from some fruits and vegetables, speeds up the ripening process. That can be an advantage-to ripen an avocado quickly, seal it in a paper bag-but too much ethylene can cause produce to spoil. And it’s not all about ethylene; temperature plays a role, as does how and when you wash a fruit or vegetable, and how and where it’s stored. Use this handy chart and read on to help you know where (and how) to store your produce.

Related: 5 Ways to Stop Wasting Food & Start Saving Money on Food

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Fruits & Vegetables to Store at Room Temp

  • Bananas
  • Basil
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash
  • Zucchini

Store These on Your Counter, Then Move to The Fridge When Ripe

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums

Fruits & Vegetables to Store in the Fridge

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Cilantro
  • Corn (whole ears in the husk)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Grapes
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Should You Store Produce Together or Separately?

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Determining whether to store your fruits and veggies in or out of the fridge is really only half the battle. Some fruits and veggies should be stored separately no matter where they land. Ethylene gas, a natural gas that some fruits emit, can speed the ripening process of some (but not other) fruits and vegetables. This can sometimes be a good thing. Want to ripen your avocado faster? Store it next to a ripe banana in a paper bag and let the ethylene from the banana do its magic.

But you don’t always want your fruits and veggies ripening on fast-forward, because they may end up rotting before you can eat them. A good rule of thumb is to keep high-ethylene gas-emitting fruits apart from other produce. Apples, avocados, stone fruits, pears, bananas and tomatoes are a few of the top offenders, with delicate leafy greens being some of the most susceptible to ethylene gas.

Also, keep onions to themselves. Onions love to share their fragrance with their neighbors (especially after they’ve been cut), so they should be stored separately and especially away from potatoes, which will wilt and sprout more quickly when onions are present.

How to Store Cut Fruits & Vegetables

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Sliced fruits and vegetables are great to have on hand for snacking and to save space in the fridge. Most fruits will last about 5 days after being sliced (some vegetables a few days longer) as long as you follow a few rules: store them in an airtight container and always refrigerate cut produce. Fruits like apples, pears, bananas and avocado are not the best candidates for slicing ahead of time since they brown quickly. Instead, store these ripe fruits (with the exception of the bananas) whole in your crisper drawer. The crisper keeps the moisture in check which, in turn, adds longevity to your produce.

What to Wash and When

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It’s always a good idea to wash all of your fruits and vegetables before you eat them, even ones you peel. Why? Bacteria that cause foodborne illness can cling to the surface of the fruit or vegetable. (Cantaloupes, in particular, have had problems with Salmonella.) Even if you’re not eating the skin or peel, bacteria may contaminate your cutting board and work their way into the flesh. The chances are pretty remote, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. On a less scary note, washing simply whisks away dirt, which is never fun to bite into. Most fruits and veggies benefit from a quick shower under cold running water, but there are a few tricks to washing that can keep some of the more delicate produce intact:

Leafy Greens: We’ve found the best way to wash leafy greens is to separate the leaves from the head and soak them in a bath of cold water for about 5 minutes. Swirl the leaves gently with your hand to loosen the debris and then lift them out of the water and into a salad spinner and spin to dry. If you don’t have a good salad spinner, it’s time to invest. Storing wet leaves can turn your greens into a mushy mess almost overnight.

Berries: Berries are delicate and they hate to be wet, so washing them can be tricky. We’ve found the best way is to rinse them in a strainer, then spread them out on a paper towel-lined plate to dry before you stick them in the fridge. A microwave steamer (or any storage vessel that has a breathable rack at the bottom) is a great place to store rinsed berries. It keeps them from swimming in any water that may settle.

Related: The Best Way to Store Fresh Berries

Herbs: Wash fresh herbs like you would salad greens in cool water and then spin them dry. With the exception of basil, fresh herbs like to be stored in the fridge with a damp (but not soaking wet) paper towel to keep them fresh. You can also store them like a little mini bouquet of flowers in your fridge by trimming off an inch or so of the stem and sticking them in a jar of water with a plastic bag loosely covering the bunch. You can use the same trick for asparagus too; it helps keep the flower ends fresh. Ditto for basil, but keep you basil bouquet on your counter instead of in the fridge.

Related: Guide to Cooking & Storing Fresh Herbs

What’s the best time to wash your produce? Well, if you’re super-efficient and very good at drying, you can wash your produce as soon as you get it home, but that’s not practical for most people. Just before you plan to use it is the best time. If you’re planning for a party and don’t want to be stuck washing while your guests mingle, it’s fine to wash ahead of time. Just remember, excess moisture is the enemy of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure your produce is dry before you store it.

How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables to Preserve Freshness

When summer gives you heaps of fresh fruits and vegetables, freeze them to enjoy throughout the year. It’s easy! Just follow these tips to preserve summer’s bounty for months to come.

Image zoom Freezing Raspberries | Photo by Meredith

Quick Tips: How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

  • Choose produce that’s ripe and unblemished.
  • Before freezing vegetables, blanch and shock vegetables by boiling them briefly, drain, then plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly.
  • Freeze fruits and vegetables quickly by spreading them in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
  • Store in air-tight containers or freezer bags. Be sure to date the packages.
  • Fill containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags.
  • Vegetables that hold up well to cooking (corn, peas) generally freeze well.
  • For better texture, use frozen fruit in recipes before it’s completely thawed.
  • Fruits and veggies freeze best at 0-degrees F or colder.
  • Store frozen fruits for about a year; vegetables, about 18 months. (Storing longer is fine, but the quality may decline.)

Freezing Fruits

  • Wash fruits and sort for damaged fruit before freezing. Some fruits do best with a sugar or sugar-syrup preparation. Blueberries, currants, and cranberries do fine without sugar.
  • Here’s a trick for freezing delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup.
  • For fruits that tend to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Look for the powdered form in health food stores, drugstores, and some grocery stores in the vitamin aisle. To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit. An acceptable substitute: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in an acidulated water bath — about one quart water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice — before drying and freezing.

Freezing Vegetables

The best vegetables for freezing are low-acid veggies. When freezing vegetables, first blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then quickly submerge the veggies in ice water to prevent them from cooking. Dry thoroughly on paper towel-lined sheet pans. Why blanch? Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging color, flavor, and nutrients. Blanching also destroys unkind microorganisms that might be lingering on the surface of vegetables. Pack vegetables snuggly to avoid air contact.

  • How to Blanch and Shock Vegetables

Packing Produce for the Freezer

  • The key to packing fruits and veggies for freezing is to keep moisture inside the package and air outside. Contact with air can cause changes in flavor and color. Pack fruit and vegetables in air-tight containers or moisture-proof, heavy-duty freezer bags, and force out as much air as possible. Wrap freezer bags in heavy-duty foil and seal with freezer tape. Stay away from plastic sandwich bags, which are not heavy-duty enough.
  • A few hours before adding food to the freezer, set the freezer to its coldest setting. And don’t overload the freezer (it will slow the freezing process).

Thawing Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Most vegetables can go directly from freezer to boiling water, though corn does best when allowed to thaw a bit first. Fruits are best when allowed to thaw at room temperature. Delicate berries can turn mushy when thawed completely, so consider eating them before they’re thoroughly thawed, such as in smoothies or as a topping for ice cream or yogurt.

When frozen, the water in fruits and veggies expands, causing ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. As a result, some fruits and veggies tend to get mushy when thawed. To reduce the amount of cellular damage, freeze fruits and veggies as quickly as possible: colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals, which do less damage to cell walls. The “mushy factor” is also why we recommend eating frozen fruits before they have completely thawed.

How to store vegetables?

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