We’ve all been there! You buy a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits at your local grocery haunt or (even better) Farmer’s Market, thinking you’re doing your body good. And then a few days later, it’s all spoiling. That’s why properly storing your veggies and fruits is key to making them last. Here are few simple tips to get the most out of these jewels of the market place.

Do not store your fruits and vegetables together. This is one of the most common mistakes. Many fruits give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) and can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables.

Wait to wash your produce. Overall, it’s best to wash your fruits and veggies before eating to extend their shelf life. But if you’re cutting up your vegetables to meal prep and snack on, wash and store in glass containers or eco-friendly plastic containers.

Let your vegetables breathe. Most refrigerated vegetables do best in a resealable plastic bag. Be sure to puncture holes to release compounds that produce spoilage while letting in oxygen to allow the vegetables to “breathe.” If the vegetables are damp, line the plastic bag with paper towels to help absorb excess moisture. It’s also best to pack veggies apart from one another in the fridge. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot.

Use temperature control in the refrigerator. In the crisper drawers (the coldest and moistest section of the refrigerator) place preferably in a perforated resealable plastic bag: broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn (with husk), green beans, carrots, radishes and scallions. On the top shelf of the refrigerator (the warmest part of the refrigerator) place in a perforated resealable plastic bag: cucumbers, peppers and summer squashes.

Store some produce on the counter. Tomatoes, eggplants, onions, garlic, potatoes and avocados (once ripe may preserve in fridge) should be left on the counter top. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly and will speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

Know when to refrigerate your fruit.  

  • Apples: store in a separate refrigerator compartment from veggies or in a sealed plastic bag. Freshly picked apples are best left on the counter!
  • Berries: refrigerated in a shallow container (not a plastic bag) to allow air to circulate.
  • Cherries: refrigerated in a shallow container.
  • Grapefruit: stays fresh on the counter for about a week or in a crisper drawer.
  • Grapes: in the crisper drawer in a perforated plastic bag.
  • Lemons and limes: several days on the counter or refrigerate to extend shelf life.
  • Mango: ripen within a week at room temperature, then in the refrigerator.
  • Melons: whole melons ripen after a few days at room temperature or store cut melon in the refrigerator with the seeds to preserve freshness.
  • Oranges: at room temperature for about a week or in a crisper drawer.
  • Peaches and nectarines: store in a crisper drawer.
  • Pears: store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days then when ripened in the crisper drawer.
  • Pineapple: store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Plums: after ripen in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer.

The freezer is your friend. You can freeze greens and fruits before they spoil to use in smoothies and soups in a jiffy! 🙂

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