How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

Storing your produce correctly can decrease the amount of produce that is wasted every week.

If your produce rots after just a few days, you might be storing it incorrectly. Certain fruits or vegetables that give off high levels of ethylene gas——a ripening agent——will speed the decay of ethylene-sensitive foods. It’s important to keep the two separate. Here are a few tips on how to properly store fruits and vegetables in your home to keep them fresher for longer:

Peach1. Use trapped ethylene to your advantage: To speed-ripen a peach, put it in a closed paper bag with a ripe banana.

2. Check for mold when storing multiple pieces of produce together. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. Mold proliferates rapidly and contaminates everything nearby, so toss any spoiled produce immediately. For longer life, keep your produce whole——don’t even rip the stem out of an apple until you eat it.

3. Cold-sensitive fruits and veggies lose flavor and moisture at low temperatures. Store them on the counter, not in the fridge. Once they’re fully ripe, you can refrigerate them to help them last, but for best flavor, return them to room temp.

4. Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry cabinet, and they can last up to a month or more. But separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate.

Tips While Shopping

Tomatoes

At least as important as how you store produce is when you buy it. Do all your other shopping first so that your berries and broccoli don’t get warm——and respire rapidly——while you’re picking up nonperishable items. Get the produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible. If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, put a cooler in the car.

Keep it Fresh

In general, the warmer the temperature, the faster the rate of respiration, which is why refrigeration is critical for most produce. But while you want to slow it down, you don’t want to stop the breathing altogether. The worst thing to do is seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag.

Some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables. Put spinach or kale in the same bin as peaches or apples, and the greens will turn yellow and limp in just a couple of days. So the first trick is to separate produce that emits ethylene from produce that’s sensitive to it.

REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RE-LEASERS:

• Apples
• Apricots
• Canteloupe
• Figs
• Honeydew

DON’T REFRIGERATE THESE GAS RE-LEASERS:

• Avocados
• Bananas, unripe
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Plums
• Tomatoes

KEEP THESE AWAY FROM ALL GAS RE-LEASERS:

• Bananas, ripe
• Broccoli
• Brussels sprouts
• Cabbage
• Carrots
• Cauliflower
• Cucumbers
• Eggplant
• Lettuce and other leafy greens
• Parsley
• Peas
• Peppers
• Squash
• Sweet potatoes
• Watermelon

Even under optimal conditions, fragile raspberries will never last as long as thick-skinned oranges. Eat more perishable items first. And if you still find yourself with a bushel of ripe produce that you won’t be able to finish- make a fruit pie, a potful of soup or a great big pot of tomato sauce, and throw it in the freezer.

Fastest to Slowest Spoilers

You can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables with just a single weekly trip to the supermarket, with proper storage and a little planning. The key is eating the more perishable produce early on. Appearance— —is the best clue to whether fruits and veggies are fresh to begin with.

Eat First

• Artichokes
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Basil
• Broccoli
• Cherries
• Corn
• Dill
• Green beans
• Mushrooms
• Mustard greens
• Strawberries
• Watercress

Eat Next

• Arugula
• Cucumbers
• Eggplant
• Grapes
• Lettuce
• Lime
• Mesclun
• Pineapple
• Zucchini

Eat Last

• Apricots
• Bell peppers
• Blueberries
• Brussels sprouts
• Cauliflower
• Grapefruit
• Leeks
• Lemons
• Mint
• Oranges
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Peaches
• Pears
• Plums
• Spinach
• Tomatoes
• Watermelon

Long-Lasting Producegarlic

• Apples
• Beets
• Cabbage
• Carrots
• Celery
• Garlic
• Onions
• Potatoes
• Winter squash