Fruits and vegetables – Tips on how to store and keep them fresh

fruits and vegetables
Photo borrowed from morethanjustveggies.com

So you painstakingly poke, prod and sniff the avocados, peaches and tomatoes at the grocery store or farmer’s market. But once you have these goodies in your hot little mitts, what now? What is the best way to protect your time and money investment? Cold can ruin some produce but others require it but here’s the scoop on how to keep them fresh as long as possible, at least until you have time to exercise your culinary artistry. Or whatever you want to call it.

Read related entries:
How to choose seasonal fruit
How to choose fresh vegetables

Store in a well-ventilated pantry:

  • Garlic, onions, potatoes. They will keep for 2-3 weeks.

Store in the refrigerator’s produce drawer, where moisture levels are higher:

  • Artichokes, in a breathable, perforated plastic bag (make one out of a Ziploc by poking several holes in it. Reusable too). Keeps up to four days.
  • Asparagus, in a glass of water with a plastic bag around the top of the flowers. Store up to 2-3 days.
  • Beans, kept in a tightly sealed bag, will stay fresh up to 5 days
  • Beets, naked without a bag, will keep 4-5 days.
  • Berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry), kept in the baskets they are sold in with plastic wrap loosely on top, will last around 3 days. Only wash before eating.
  • Broccoli, in perforated bag, will keep around a week.
  • Cabbage, bagless, will stay fresh around a week.
  • Carrots are hearty. If stored in a plastic bag, they’ll keep for a couple of weeks.
  • Cauliflower needs plastic wrap and will stay fresh around a week.
  • Celery can handle a couple of weeks but will wilt. To prevent this, cut the stalks and store upright in water.
  • Cherries: Store uncovered and unwashed in a colander and they’ll remain fresh for up to a week.
  • Fresh corn should be cooked and served the day it’s purchased, but it can be refrigerated up to a day.
  • Cucumbers, if stored in a plastic bag, will keep for up to 10 days.
  • Figs need to be wrapped tightly and will last around a week.
  • Grapes need air circulation, so place them in a colander and they’ll last around 5 days.
  • Green onions can keep up to five days in a tight plastic bag.
  • Herbs will remain perky up to a week if you place the stems in water and loosely wrap the flowers in plastic.
  • Leafy Greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) stay fresher if they are allowed to breath a bit. The pre-washed salad mixes tend to spoil within 2-3 days but the plastic tubs with air vents will hold for 5-6 days.
  • Leeks should be loosely wrapped in plastic and will keep for a week to 10 days. Store away from fruit since they give off odor.
  • Mushrooms (unwashed) will keep up to three days in a ventilated bag.
  • Peppers will last up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag, uncut.
  • Shelled peas don’t last. Cook fresh peas within 2 days of purchase and store in a plastic bag. Pods last about as long.
  • Radishes need to have the green removed and will keep up to a week in a plastic bag.
  • Summer squash (yellow and zucchini) can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in a plastic bag.

Store on the countertop, away from direct sunlight and in a container that can circulate air:

  • Apples and Pears are best eaten as fresh as possible, or they will turn mealy. Refrigerate after 4-5 days.
  • Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines , Kiwi and Plums – once ripe, place in a plastic bag and store for up to 5 days.
  • Avocados – ripen these quickly by placing the fruit in a paper bag on the counter and then move to the fridge to prevent further ripening.
  • Bananas – 5-6 days, depending on how you like to eat them.
  • Canteloupe/Honeydew – ripen on the countertop but once cut, cover loosely in plastic wrap and store to the fridge up to 2 days.
  • Citrus – up to 2 weeks.
  • Eggplant should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a day or two of purchase. If longer storage is necessary, refrigerate them in the vegetable drawer.
  • Mangoes, Papayas, Pomegranates – refrigerate after ripening and then move to the fruit drawer for 2-3 days.
  • Pineapple will stay fresh up to 4-5 days after ripening.
  • Pumpkin and winter squash – these things seem to last forever, like a month.
  • Tomatoes – consume within 3-4 days after purchase. Never refrigerate! The cold breaks down the interior and they turn to mush.
  • Watermelon -cut watermelon should be tightly wrapped, refrigerated and used within a day or so.
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