Oh to be able to live in a place where we could grow our own fruits and veggies to have the freshest of produce every day! Unfortunately for some, this is about as realistic a goal as moving to Narnia. Fortunately, though, we do live in a time when we have more access than ever to fresh fruits and veggies and tools that can help us keep them fresher longer.
So what’re the best ways to store your fruits and veggies for maximum freshness? We’ll tell ya:
Apples produce something called ethylene gas, which can make certain other produce ripen (and therefore rot) faster, so make sure to store them away from your other fruits and veggies. They’re not too picky about temperature though; you can store them on the counter for up to a week or for longer in the fridge.
To get the most out of your avocados (and their small window of ripe-ness), ripen yours on the counter before storing them in the refrigerator.
Bananas should not go in the fridge at all. Instead, keep them out on your counter and remember they do their best when hanging. Pro tip: wrap some plastic wrap around their stem(s) to keep them fresh even longer.
Whether you’ve cut them or not, keep your cantaloupe and honeydew fresh by keeping them loose in the fridge, preferably in a dark, dry place away from the rest of your produce. Cut melons should definitely stay in the fridge.
You can extend the shelf life of your citrus fruits – like clementines, grapefruit, and oranges, or lemons and limes – by keeping them in your fridge in a mesh bag or the crisper drawer (or both!).
Typically, you should use chili peppers as soon as you can, but you can keep them for up to two weeks if you keep them wrapped in a dry, terry cloth towel inside a paper bag inside a cool, dark place, like your pantry or fridge.
Although they’re the ultimate in cool, cucumbers should be kept at room temperature since they’re sensitive to temps below 50℉ (you and me both, cucumbers). If you end up having some cucumber leftover, however, you can keep them in one of the warmer parts of your fridge (on the front upper shelves or door) for 1-3 days.
Your eggplants should be stored at room temperature or in a dark, cool place (but not the fridge) and they should be able to breathe, so no sealing ‘em up in plastic bags.
Peppers (Bell & Sweet)
Keep your peppers in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer until you’re ready for them. Pro tip: green peppers tend to stay fresh longer than peppers that are other colors.
Tomatoes are another room temperature breed and they also like their space, so don’t clump them together in a small bowl. In fact, some say they should be spaced apart so they’re not touchign at all. Tomatoes aren’t a big fan of too much heat either, so make sure they’re not sitting in sunlight or near the stove.
Winter squashes are your thicker-hulled squashes, like pumpkins or butternut squash. Not surprisingly, these guys like cool, dark spaces, but the fridge usually isn’t the best place for them. Try keeping them in your cupboard or pantry to help keep them fresh longer.
Zucchini & Summer Squash
Keep these babies dirty – until you’re ready to eat them, that is! Excess moisture can cause zucchini and summer squash to ripen and rot faster, so just leave ‘em as they are in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer until you’re ready to use them.
Stone fruits, like nectarines, peaches, and plums, stay fresher longer when they’re kept in a paper bag on your counter until they’re ripe. Once they’ve ripened, swap ‘em over to the fridge where they’ll keep a few more days.
Broccoli needs a little hydration before you store it: spritz the heads with some water and wrap it loosely in damp paper towels. Keep it in the crisper drawer, and if you need to put it in a plastic bag, make sure it’s loose or perforated.
If you happen to find brussel sprouts on stalks, de-stalk them before storing. Keep your sprouts in a bowl or container without a lid in the fridge. You may notice the outer leaves shriveling, but that’s fine; just remove them before you cook!
If you’ve got a whole head of cauliflower, you can store it in plastic, loosely wrapped, in your crisper drawer for up to two weeks. If it’s easier space-wise to cut up your cauliflower into florets, keep them in sealed plastic for up to a week.
Keep your corn inside their husks and in a wet paper bag or towel inside a plastic bag in your fridge (almost like a Russian nesting doll, isn’t it?). If you’re unable to eat your corn right away, it may lose its sweetness and become starchy, but you can cut off the kernels to freeze them before this happens.
Green Beans & Peas
Keep your green beans and peas in those plastic bags from the grocery store and leave them in your crisper drawer, but only for a few days!
Keep your cabbage whole, stored in a plastic bag in your crisper drawer for extended freshness!
Before you store, separate and bathe your lettuce leaves before spinning them dry or allowing them to air-dry on a towel. Once you’ve done that, keep your lettuce wrapped in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Pro tip: layer the leaves between paper towels before putting them in the bag to help them last even longer!
Rinse and dry your spinach thoroughly to prep it for storage. Then, lay it on top of a dry paper towel in a plastic bag or plastic-wrapped container and store in the fridge. Remove any yellowing leaves as you find them.
Collards, mustard, kale, chard, etc. should be prepped and stored like lettuce. You can also store them in a “bouquet” in an inch or so of water in your fridge. And as a bonus, if they’ve got thick stems like kale, you can revive wilted limbs by soaking them in water for an hour before drying and storing again.
Pretty much all of your basic roots, which include potatoes, onions, shallots, and garlic, need to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place that’s not your refrigerator. Think about why root cellars are a thing and you’ve got the gist of how these foods like to spend their time before they’re eaten.
Trim the greens from your carrots immediately and store them in your fridge in a plastic bag. You can also store them in a covered container filled with water if you have the space to get them to last a really long time.
Radishes, Turnips, & Beets
These roots, like carrots, need to have their greens trimmed immediately before you store them. Don’t peel ‘em til you’re ready to use ‘em and make sure to keep them in your fridge in plastic bags.
Sweet potatoes, like regular potatoes, prefer a cool, dark place like your pantry. Unfortunately, they don’t last nearly as long as their unsweet counterpart, so keep an eye on them and try to use them within a week of getting them.
A force unto themselves, vidalia onions like the fridge best. So go ahead and wrap them up in paper towels, then foil or a plastic bag, and pop ‘em in your refrigerator.
Store your asparagus in the fridge, either standing in a glass of cold water with a damp paper towel wrapped around the tops or laying down wrapped in a moist paper towel. Unfortunately, asparagus is still only good for a day or two.
Wrap your celery’s ribs in damp paper towels then foil or a plastic bag. Keep it in your crisper drawer. Pro tip: you can revive your celery if it starts wilting by slicing a thin layer off the bottom and soaking it in water for a day or so.
Keep your leeks unwashed and untrimmed and store them in your crisper drawer, wrapped loosely in a paper bag, to keep them lasting 1-2 weeks.
Do you have any tips for keeping your produce fresher longer? We’d love to hear ‘em! Tell us all about it in the comments below and be sure to stay tuned with HealingRadius for more tips for healthy and fresh eating!
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.