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- Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below. Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
- Apples - Apples are ethylene gas producers so store away from other produce in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with holes.
- Avocados – Store in a paper bag on the counter.
- Bananas – Keep green bananas out of the refrigerator but away from other foods – they’ll ripen nicely in a bowl. (If you want a hard piece of fruit like an avocado, peach, pear or plum to ripen quickly, place it in a paper bag with a banana!)
- 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 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 apricots, 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 – Keep loose in refrigerator drawer in a sealed plastic bag or container.
- Corn – Store in the refrigerator inside their husks.
- Cucumbers – Keep in the refrigerator away from other produce on the upper shelf (the “warmer” part of the fridge.)
- Eggplant – Place in bag with holes and store on middle or upper refrigerator shelf.
- Green beans – Store in a sealed container or bag in refrigerator.
- Leafy green vegetables – Greens like lettuce, collards, chard, kale, and spinach should be washed and dried, wrapped loosely in a dishtowel or paper towels and placed in a plastic bag in a refrigerator drawer.
- Onion family – Store garlic, onions and shallots in a cool, dark and dry space but separate from other foods because of their strong odors.
- Mushrooms – Keep unwashed in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Moisture makes them slimy.
- Peppers – Store sweet and hot peppers in a plastic bag on the upper shelf of refrigerator.
- Root vegetables – Remove green tops of carrots and parsnips, then store in a plastic bag with holes in the crisper drawer. Beets and turnips can be kept loose in the crisper after removing their green tops. Store potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams in a cool, dark and dry place like a pantry or cellar.
- Yellow Squash & Zucchini – Store in plastic bags in the refrigerator.
Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe 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.