Keeping Fruits and Veggies Fresh

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How Properly to Store Your Fruits and Veggies

Eating healthy means eating more fresh fruits and veggies, but when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You’re not alone.

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn’t be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop.

Here are some tips on how to store your produce and cut down on food waste:

Countertop Storage Tips:

There’s nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep apples crisp and fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag.

Refrigerator Storage Tips:

For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines:

  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge and causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.

Use this color-coded key along with the chart below:

  • Store unwashed and in a single layer
  • Store unwashed and in a plastic bag
  • Store in a paper bag
  • *Ethylene producers (keep away from other fruits and vegetables)

Store in Refrigerator:

Apples (up to 7 days)
Apricots
Cantaloupe
Figs
Honeydew
Artichokes
Asparagus
Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflowers 
Celery
Cherries
Corn
Grapes
Green beans
Green onions
Herbs (except basil)
Lima beans
Leafy vegetables
Leeks
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Okra
Peas
Plums
Radishes
Raspberries
Spinach
Sprouts
Strawberries
Summer squash
Yellow squash
Zucchini

Store on Countertop:

Apples (up to 7 days)
Bananas
Tomatoes
Basil
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Garlic
Ginger
Grapefruit
Jicama
Lemons
Limes
Mangoes
Oranges
Papayas
Peppers
Persimmons
Pineapple
Plantains
Pomegranates
Watermelon

Store in a Cool, Dry Place:

Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Onions (away from potatoes)
Potatoes (away from onions)
Pumpkin
Spaghetti squash
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Ripen on Counter, Then Refrigerate:

Avocados
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Plums
Kiwi

*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they’re picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce.

Food is expensive, and most people can’t afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip.

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