How to Store Fruit and Vegetables
Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe. Most vegetables do not like excess moisture which can lead to mould, so keep an eye on the moisture levels in your fridge and wipe off any excess if need be.
Know your ethylene-producing fruits! Ethylene is a natural ripening agent produced by most fruits as they ripen, and can trigger premature ripening in some fruits if kept all together. But, you can also use it to your advantage! Need your avocados to ripen a bit quicker? Keep them together with ethylene producing fruits and it’ll happen a lot faster.
Apples – You can place them in a fruit bowl on the counter for up to a week, but they really stay at their best when kept in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Apples produce ethylene (a natural ripening gas), so keep separate from other fruits so as not to encourage premature ripening.
Apricots ‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe.
Artichokes ‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus ‐ Asparagus stalks are like flowers – they need to be kept moist and upright to stay fresh. Remove tight rubber bands and place the stalks in a glass or jar upright with 2cm water. Cover with a loose plastic bag and place in the fridge. Change the water every few days when it gets cloudy.
Avocados ‐ Hard/Unripe – Place on a counter or in a fruit bowl. To speed up their ripening – place them in a paper bag in a warm (but not sunny) spot, add an apple or banana to the bag and loosely scrunch the bag closed. Check regularly to ensure they don’t over-ripen.
Avocados – Soft/Ripe – Place in the fridge to slow further ripening and use within a day or two.
Arugula / Rocket ‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lie flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture, or in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel inside.
Bananas – Green – Keep on the counter or in a basket with holes or openings to allow air to circulate, away from other fruits. If you want to speed up their ripening, or the bananas are a little too green then place them in a paper bag and loosely scrunch the end closed. Bananas produce ethylene (a natural ripening gas), so keep separate from other fruits so as not to encourage premature ripening. Do not place in fridge.
Bananas – Yellow – Keep on the counter or in a basket with holes or openings to allow air to circulate,away from other fruits. To slow down ripening, separate the individual bananas from the bunch and lay them with a little space in-between. You can place them in the fridge to slow ripening, but just be aware that the skin will go dark.
Bananas – Overripe/Spotty – Use within a few days, or ASAP before they ripen too much to use. Great for baking, smoothies or for freezing for future use (remove skins before freezing). You can place them in the fridge, but just be aware that the skin will go dark.
Basil ‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.
Beetroot ‐ If purchased in the bunch, cut the tops off to keep beets firm (be sure to keep the greens!). Leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them lose flavour and firmness. Wash beets thoroughly and air dry completely before storing them in a sealed container or plastic bag in the crisper draw of the fridge.
Beet greens ‐ Wash and air dry thoroughly, place in an airtight container or plastic bag wrapped in a paper towel or cloth to soak up excess moisture.
Broccoli ‐ Do not wash until ready to use. Wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge in an open container or bag. Broccoli needs to stay damp, but make sure there isn’t too much moisture otherwise it can encourage mould.
Brussels Sprouts ‐ Store them in an open container or bag with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage – Whole – left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise in warm climates. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt or turn yellow. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week, so, best used as soon as possible.
Cabbage – Cut – Once cut, cabbage needs to be kept in the fridge. The cut edges will begin to oxidize and turn brown once exposed to oxygen. Wrap in plastic wrap, bag or in an airtight container to slow down this process. If edges have oxidized, you can still use it! Just take a thin slice off the side and discard the old edges.
Capsicum – Store in a plastic bag before placing in crisper or refrigerator. Green capsicum stay fresh longer than orange or red capsicum. Will last 1 – 2 weeks in refrigerator or up to 10 months in the freezer. To freeze cut into slices and place on cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen, then place in air-tight container or freezer bag and return to freezer.
Carrots ‐ If purchased in the bunch, cut the greens off to keep them fresh longer as the greens will draw moisture from the root. Place them in closed container or plastic bag 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 ‐ Place cauliflower stem-side up in an open container or plastic bag so moisture doesn’t collect on the top of the head and cause unwanted browning. But, they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery ‐ Whole – does best when simply placed upright in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter for a few days. If you want to keep it longer, keep it in the refrigerator and wrap it in aluminium foil. It will stay crisp for weeks.
Celery – Cut – wrap tightly in plastic or aluminium foil, or keep the cut stalks in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. The cut edges will begin to oxidize and turn brown once exposed to oxygen. If edges have oxidized, you can still use it! Just take a thin slice off the bit that’s turned brown and discard the old edges.
Celery root/Celeriac ‐ wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn ‐ leave un-husked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor.
Cucumber ‐ In an airtight container, plastic bag or wrapped 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 ‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it; eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.
Fennel ‐ if used within a couple of days after it’s bought, fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
Figs ‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.
Garlic ‐ store in a cool, dark, place.
Ginger – Place unpeeled ginger in a zip-lock bag or plastic container and place in fridge.
Grapes – Do not wash until just before eating. Check for mould and remove affected grapes. Store in a container or plastic bag in the coldest part of the fridge. Keep away from odorous foods such as onions or leeks as they can absorb odours.
Greens ‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans ‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Green Tomatoes ‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
Herbs – a closed container in the fridge to be kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Kiwi – Keep at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate. Do not place in refrigerator longer than 1 -2 weeks.
Lettuce ‐ keep damp (but not wet!) in an airtight container in the fridge.
Leeks ‐ leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
Lemons ‐ store in a fruit bowl, fridge or cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container. Added moisture encourages mould. Check regularly for signs of citrus mould and remove any affected fruit before the mould spreads. Wash any fruit bowls after exposure to mould as the spores can spread to other citrus fruits.
Mangoes – Store on the counter until ripe or 2 – 5 days, then move to refrigerator, then keep for 5 – 7 days. If you want to freeze wash peel and slice into pieces. Place pieces on a cookie sheet until frozen then you can transfer to plastic bag
Mandarins ‐ store in a fruit bowl, fridge or cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container. Added moisture encourages mould. Check regularly for signs of citrus mould and remove any affected oranges before the mould spreads. Wash any fruit bowls after exposure to mould as the spores can spread to other citrus fruits.
Melons ‐ Whole – Uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun. Check for any soft spots regularly and discard if they form. Can be kept in fridge to last longer.
Melons – Cut – Cut melon needs to be wrapped in plastic or placed in an airtight container, refrigerated immediately and eaten within 2-3 days of being cut.
Mushrooms – Keep mushrooms in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. If you are using some of the mushrooms, try to open a corner of the plastic wrap and just take what you need. Then, cover with a paper towel and cover with more plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator.
Nectarines ‐ Best flavour when stored on the counter and eaten as soon as they’re ripe, but you can store in the fridge to extend shelf life. Remove from fridge and place on the counter to ripen and soften a couple of days before you plan to eat them.
Okra ‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
Oranges ‐ store in a fruit bowl, fridge or cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container. Added moisture encourages mould. Check regularly for signs of citrus mould and remove any affected oranges before the mould spreads. Wash any fruit bowls after exposure to mould as the spores can spread to other citrus fruits.
Onion ‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.
Parsnips ‐ an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
Peaches ‐ Best flavour when stored on the counter and eaten as soon as they’re ripe, but you can store in the fridge to extend shelf life. Remove from fridge and place on the counter to ripen and soften a couple of days before you plan to eat them.
Persimmon – Store at room temperature until ripe. Once ripe, eat within a day or two or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Plums – Keep plums at room temperature until they ripen. Once they’re ripe, keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 more days.
Pomegranates ‐ keep up to 2 weeks stored on a cool counter.
Pineapples – Whole – Pineapple is best kept on the counter until needed. If ripe, you can peel, cut and refrigerate the slices in a tightly covered container. Do not use aluminum wrap as it will change the flavor of the pineapple. If you wish to allow the shell to become more yellow or golden, you can leave the fruit (with the crown) on the counter for up to a week. You can tell when it’s best as it will have a sweet smell.
Potatoes ‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Pumpkin – Store whole, uncut pumpkin in a cool, dark and dry place. Cut pumpkin must be wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and used within 2-3 days.
Radishes ‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Raspberries – Refrigerate as soon as possible. Do not wash until just before use. Keep paper towel in punnet to absorb excess moisture. Raspberries are very delicate, try not to handle too much or you will damage them. Check regularly for mould and remove affected fruit.
Rhubarb ‐ wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
Sugar Snap peas ‐ refrigerate in an open container
Spinach bunch ‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
Spinach leaves (baby spinach) – Store in the fridge in a plastic bag or airtight container with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture.
Spring onions ‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.
Sprouts – Keep them cold. Get them in the refrigerator as soon as possible and they should last 10 – 14 days.
Strawberries – Refrigerate as soon as possible. Do not wash until just before use. Strawberries are very delicate, try not to handle too much or bruising will form. Check regularly for mould and remove affected strawberries.
Sweet Potatoes ‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate ‐ sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes ‐ Refrigerate to extend shelf life, but tomato flavour is best when kept on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Watermelon – Whole – Keep watermelon uncut on your counter at room temperature for up to 7 – 10 days, checking regularly to ensure it does not over-ripen. Knocking on the side of the watermelon should produce a sharper hollow sound – if it’s a dull sound or does not sound hollow at all, the watermelon has over-ripened.
Watermelon – Cut – Cut watermelon must be refrigerated immediately, either in pieces in a closed container or wrapped in plastic. Eat within 2-3 days.
Zucchini ‐ Keep in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge, wrap in a cloth or paper towel to wick away excess moisture.