How to Store Produce

Advice, Nutrition Topics

ADVICE:  HOW TO STORE PRODUCE

We’ve all experienced it at one point in time, we’ve just brought home a haul of fresh fruits and vegetables only to notice several days later some of them are going bad, getting mushy, and headed straight for the trash can (or compost). This is something I used to experience all the time especially when I first started grocery shopping and cooking for myself in college. I never knew how to properly store fresh fruits and vegetables to maximize their life, nutrition, texture, and taste.  Today I’m going to share with you all my top tips learned over the years that I use weekly after my grocery shopping/market trips to keep my veggies and fruits fresh!

First let’s start with the basics of knowing what fruits and vegetables to store cool in the refrigerator compared to those that need to be stored on the countertop/pantry and which should never be stored close by. A general rule of thumb, is to not store fruits and vegetables together or in the same drawer. Fruits give off a natural gas called ethylene, which is a ripening agent, but this can actually spoil vegetables that are stored next to the fruits. I find it best to designate drawers and spots in the fridge only for vegetables, then spots only for fruits, and then of course other areas for prepared foods, drinks, etc.

Before you get started thinking about what to store on the countertop and what to store in the fridge, step 1 is a Pantry Makeover/clean out, then organize your pantry, and clean out the fridge. These all may seem like very simple steps, but I promise they’ll keep the food fresher by encouraging you to use what you’ve bought first (first in, first out rule).

Tip: When planning meals out for the week, write down how much of each food you may be using- this not only helps you stay on track, keeps it budget friendly, but also “forces” you to enjoy the food you have at home without wasting fresh produce. If you’re still having a hard time meal planning, check out this downloadable guide.

how-store-produce

How to store produce

FRUITS

If the fruit isn’t ripe, leave it on the countertop in your fruit/ripening basket for several days until ripened. See list below of which fruits should be refrigerated.

VEGETABLES

First, remove any bags, ties, etc. that may be holding the vegetables together. Next, rinse well all the vegetables (except for mushrooms, berries, and herbs- these will spoil quicker if rinsed first) and store them in containers or ziploc bags with a little slot open for the exchange of air/gas.

Refrigerate

  • Apples (keeps for about a 1-3 weeks)
  • Apricot (5 days or ripen on countertop)
  • Artichokes (1 week)
  • Arugula (1 week)
  • Asparagus (3 days)
  • Beets (3 weeks, wash well and store root and leaves separately)
  • Bell peppers (5-7 days)
  • Blackberries (2-3 days, remove moldy ones)
  • Blueberries (5-7 days, remove moldy ones)
  • Cruciferous: broccoli, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts (1 week)
  • Cabbage (1-2 weeks)
  • Cantaloupe (5 days)
  • Carrots (1 week)
  • Celery (1 week, rinse well)
  • Chard (3 days)
  • Cherries (3 days in an open bag, bowl or tray)
  • Clementines (5 days)
  • Corn (best the day of)
  • Cranberries (1 month)
  • Cucumber (5-7 days)
  • Eggplant (5 days)
  • Endive (5 days)
  • Fennel (1 week)
  • Figs (
  • Ginger (3 weeks)
  • Grapefruit (3 weeks, 1 week on countertop)
  • Grapes (3-5 days in an open bowl)
  • Green beans (1 week)
  • Herbs (5 days, stored upright in a mason jar with cold water, bag on top)
  • Honeydew (5 days)
  • Jicima (1 week)
  • Kale (3 days)
  • Kiwis (4 days)
  • Leeks (1 week)
  • Lettuces (5-7 days)
  • Mangoes (4 days or ripen on countertop)
  • Mushrooms (1 week in paper bag, do not rinse beforehand)
  • Nectarines (5 days)
  • Onions, cut (4 days)
  • Oranges (2 weeks)
  • Peaches (5 days)
  • Pears (5 days)
  • Peas (4 days)
  • Pineapple (5 days)
  • Plums (5 days)
  • Pomegranate, whole (3 weeks)
  • Radicchio (4 days)
  • Radish (4 days)
  • Raspberries (2-3 days, remove moldy ones)
  • Rhubarb (1 week)
  • Scallions (5 days)
  • Snow peas (4 days)
  • Spinach (3-5 days)
  • Summer squash (5 days)
  • Sugar snap peas (4 days)
  • Tangerines (1 week)
  • Watercress (4-6 days)
  • Watermelon, whole (1 week)
  • Zucchini (5 days)

Don’t refrigerate (i.e. pantry or countertops)

  • Avocados (3 days or ripen on countertop)
  • Bananas, unripe (ripen on countertop or put used bananas in fridge)
  • Nectarines (2-3 days or until ripe)
  • Peaches (2-3 days or until ripe)
  • Pears (2-3 days or until ripe)
  • Plums (2-3 days or until ripe)
  • Tomatoes (3-4 days)
  • Garlic (about 2 months)
  • Lemons (1 week)
  • Limes (1 week)
  • Onions (2 months whole)
  • Pineapple (2-3 days ripen)
  • Potatoes: sweet, red, yukon gold, fingerling, white (3 weeks)
  • Rutabaga (1 week)
  • Shallots (1 month)
  • Winter squash: butternut, acorn, delicata, spaghetti (3 months)

Store alone

These will absorb other flavors or odors in the same storage unit or have the potential of spoiling/over-ripening

  • Bananas, ripe
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

 how-to-store-produce2

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • Vegetables // If I’m on the go or need quick snacks, I’ll often slice or chop up veggies (like cucumbers, zucchini, celery sticks, and carrot sticks) and store them in airtight  Weck jars.
  • Fruits // More often than not, I ALWAYS keep fruit on the countertop unless I’ve cut into it. I recommend eating fruit at its ripest state!
  • Others // In the fridge, usingMason jars or good ole’ Weck jars I store dates, soaked almonds, seeds, flours, juices, and smoothies that I’ve made to keep them incredible fresh.

WHAT TO STORE PRODUCE IN

  • Mason jars (great for canning, smoothies, juices, and storing all dry goods such as grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds)
  • Good ole’ ziploc bag (although I’m not a huge fan of using plastics around food, these do the trick)
  • Weck jars (these are my absolute favorite and come in all shapes!)
  • Cloth food bags
  • Glass containers 
  • BPA free plastic containers 

Ripening tips // bananas stored next to any other fruit will quicken the overall ripening process of said fruit, i.e. bananas help ripen fruit very quickly!

 

Nutrition Stripped news: Check out my interview I did with Career Contessa all about how I started my career and Nutrition Stripped!

xo McKel

Share your thoughts

  • Alison

    Is it bad to eat produce after the suggested times? Or is that more of a guide to how long they’ll typically last? Very helpful, by the way!

    • These are just suggested times! I often have produce that keep well after the suggested date, but it’s a good guideline to keep in mind 🙂

  • Great tips! With regards to specifically lemons/limes, I did find this that might be helpful? They advise storing them in a ziplock bag in the fridge and they’ll last 4 weeks as opposed to 1 on the countertop! 🙂 http://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-way-to-keep-lemons-fresh-for-a-whole-month-tips-from-the-kitchn-144430

  • Rebecca

    This is so helpful! Loved this article.

    A few follow-up questions: With regards to the “food to store alone”, are these in the refrigerated or non-refrigerated category? Not all of them were previously listed. Also, what is your most recommend way to store leafy greens in the fridge to minimize wilting? Bags or containers? Unfortunately I don’t have access to a drawer in my current shared fridge space.

  • Heather

    Wow! Thanks for this list 🙂 I’ve been looking for one for a long time
    But how many days to figs last in the refrigerator? That part is blank

  • Everyone needs to know this! I know so many people who have gone on a “I’m going to get healthy” binge at the grocery store, only to end up watching the fruit and vegetables rot into piles of mush.

    Great tips!

  • Samantha

    This was super helpful, thank you! I was wondering if you’d mind sharing how long you can keep nuts and grains for. Sorry if this was asked already!

  • Kim

    What about dates? Fridge or counter?

  • Wendy

    Love this, thank you! I’m also wondering how long soaked nuts/ seeds last for in the fridge. Do i keep them in the water or drain and keep in fridge? (Mainly want to know about almonds, I’ve just discovered how good they taste soaked). Thanks

    • Great question- I drain mine, pat dry, store in a closed mason jar in the fridge for several weeks!

  • Jen

    What about leaves? I never know how the best way to store (in the fridge) my leafy greens like spinach, kale, collar greens, etc. Should they be out in the open, in a container, or in a bag?

    • I keep them in a bag, wash them well and keep them very cold!

      • Jen

        Thanks! In an open bag like the produce bags at the grocery store or a sealed bag like a ziploc? Thanks! I love your blog/recipes!! 🙂

  • Samantha

    I just stumbled upon this article. I live in Southern California and two block from the beach so we get a lot of moisture, but then the sun shines pretty bright into my apartment so my kitchen get’s very hot during the day. I’ve noticed my mint and basil plants can’t take the heat inside and my produce doesn’t quite ripen correctly because of the heat and then the temperature quickly dropping at night. We also get fruit flies if I leave our fruit out. Any suggestions on what I can do with the produce that should be left out on the counter? Is there anything I can purchase to keep them cool and away from fruit flies? I typically leave on my table to ripen then throw in the fridge once they do ripen until we eat them.

  • Jennifer

    Hey girl! Your link to the interview isn’t working. Can you please revise? Super interested 🙂

  • I’d have a question regarding storing vegetables: you write to rinse them, but I wonder do you also dry them or do you put the veggies wet in the bags/containers in the fridge?

    • It depends on the veggie, but most often I’ll just give them a good shake and store them!

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