With the end of summer and beginning of fall comes a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables from farm stands and gardens. Eating abundant amounts of fresh food can be more healthful but can also lead to a kitchen full of rotting perishables if you buy more than you can prepare and eat before the fruits and vegetables spoil. In fact, produce is the most thrown-out food in U.S. households. To keep spoilage to a minimum and avoid wasting money, follow the food-storage tips below.
Apples ‐ Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks and away from strong-smelling foods so they won’t absorb odors. For longer storage, place in a cardboard box in the fridge. If the refrigerator is full, then store apples in a cool, dark place.
Citrus ‐ Store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.
Apricots ‐ Place on a cool counter to room temperature or in fridge if fully ripe.
Cherries‐ Store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat because any added moisture causes mold.
Berries – Place in a warmer part of the refrigerator, unwashed, and in a dry, covered container. When storing be careful not to stack too many high–a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well. Only wash before you plan on eating them.
Melons‐ Leave uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, and an open container is fine.
Nectarines‐ Store in the fridge if ripe, but it is best when taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches‐ Refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears ‐ Will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Pomegranates ‐ Keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
Strawberries ‐ Don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them. Line a tupperware container with a paper towel, place a single layer of unbruised strawberries in container. Cover with a paper towel and seal with lid. Can also be placed in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.
Note: Always remove any tight bands from vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breath.
Artichokes ‐ Place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus ‐ Place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. They will keep for a week outside the fridge.
Avocados ‐ Place in a paper bag at room temperature. To speed up their ripening place an apple in the bag with them.
Broccoli ‐ Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Cabbage ‐ Can be left out on a cool counter for up to a week. Otherwise, place it in the crisper. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week, so best used as soon as possible.
Carrots ‐ Cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
Cauliflower ‐ It will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery ‐ Remove the leaves, then wrap it in aluminum foil to last for weeks and place in the vegetable bin in the fridge. You can also place it in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter.
Corn ‐ Leave unhusked in an open container, but corn really is best the day it’s picked.
Cucumber ‐ Wrap in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.
Eggplant ‐ Can be left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it. An eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage place loose in the crisper.
Garlic ‐ Store in a cool, dark, place.
Green beans ‐ They like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Lettuce‐ Wrap in a paper towel and place in an airtight container in the fridge.
Onion‐ Store in a cool, dark and dry place where there is good air circulation. Don’t stack them.
Potatoes‐ Store in cool, dark and dry place such as in a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Radishes‐ Remove the greens so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots. Place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Snap Peas‐ Refrigerate in an open container.
Spinach‐ Store loose in an open container in the crisper. Keep cold.
Summer Squash‐ Can be left out on a cool counter for a few days, even after cut.
Sweet Peppers‐Only wash them right before you plan on eating them because the wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
Sweet Potatoes‐Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate. They don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes‐Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Turnips‐ Remove the greens, then store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
Winter Squash‐Store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
Zucchini‐ Can be left out on a cool counter for a few days, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.
If you know of other ways that keep fruits and vegetables fresh, please share with us.