Keep Fruits & Vegetables Fresher Longer
It happens to all of us – you buy fresh produce and stick it in the refrigerator only to find it a few weeks later looking shriveled and rotten.
To avoid throwing it out, it’s important to know where to store fruits and vegetables and also which foods to keep separate from each other. Some fruits give off ethylene gas, which can make other produce ripen and rot faster.
These storage tips will help keep your fruit and vegetable purchases fresher longer so you get your money’s worth.
General Storage Tips – Some produce can be stored in the refrigerator at 40° F or below or on the counter. Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
- Apples - Apples are ethylene gas producers so store away from other produce. They can be stored on the counter for up to a week or in the fridge for more than a week.
- Avocados – Ripen on the counter then store in the refrigerator.
- Bananas – Keep green bananas out of the refrigerator and let them ripen on the counter or a banana hanger.
- Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are delicate and should not be washed until ready to eat. Keep in refrigerator in dry, covered containers.
- Cherries & Grapes – Store in refrigerator, unwashed, in their packaged plastic containers or plastic bags until ready to wash and eat.
- Citrus fruit – Extend the shelf life of clementines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges by storing them in the crisper drawer or in a mesh bag in the refrigerator.
- Melons - Store cantaloupe and honeydew loose in the refrigerator, even before they’re cut. Watermelon can be kept in a dark, dry place away from other produce. Keep cut melon in the fridge.
- Stone fruit – Keep nectarines, peaches and plums in a paper bag on the counter until they are ripe then move to the refrigerator where they’ll last a few more days.
- Tomatoes – Always store at room temperature as the refrigerator will make them rot quickly. Keep loose in a bowl away from sun or heat (like the stove.)
- Broccoli & Cauliflower – Broccoli and cauliflower are best kept in separate refrigerator drawers away from other produce.
- Celery – Store in the refrigerator.
- Corn – Store in the refrigerator inside their husks.
- Cucumbers – Store at room temperature. Can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days if they are used soon after removal from the refrigerator.
- Eggplant – Store at room temperature. Can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days if they are used soon after removal from the refrigerator.
- Green beans – Store in the refrigerator.
- Leafy green vegetables – Greens like lettuce, collards, chard, kale, and spinach should be stored in the refrigerator.
- Onion family – Store garlic and onions in a cool, dark and dry space but separate from other foods because of their strong odors.
- Mushrooms – Keep unwashed in the refrigerator. Moisture makes them slimy.
- Peppers – Store at room temperature. Can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days if they are used soon after removal from the refrigerator.
- Root vegetables – Store carrots, beets, and radishes in the refrigerator. Store potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squashes in a cool, dark and dry place like a pantry or cellar.
Check out and share our Produce Storage Infographic.
Last reviewed 1/2015
Article copyright © 2016 American Heart Association. This recipe/article is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.