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Fight Food Waste – How to Store Produce

Let’s start off on the right foot after purchasing the ripest, freshest produce. I have created a list below of how to store fruits and veggies. I realize that I hardly scratched the surface, especially for those of you who live in other countries, but it’s a good start. Use the “best by” time frames as suggestions. The timing will be determined by how ripe and fresh they are once you bring them home.

 

 

Purchase your produce from your local farmer’s market whenever possible. Most veggies and fruits are picked that morning and haven’t been overly handled, factory-washed, or ripened. You can tell by how dirty it is, and that’s a good thing! Not only does freshly picked mean higher levels of nutrients, but it’s also more likely to last longer.

 

While it’s important to wash produce before you eat it, it’s best to store most of them unwashed. Too much moisture can cause produce to go bad quickly. Wait until you’re ready to eat before washing. If you need to wash ahead of time, dry thoroughly before storing. I hope you find this reference helpful. blessings, amie sue

Produce Storage Reference

Apples
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Up to six weeks in the refrigerator, longer in a root cellar environment.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use — store in a breathable bag in the low-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Handle carefully to prevent bruising, and separate any with bruises from other apples (or they will cause others to turn brown).
  • Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature.
Artichokes
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within one week.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Slice a small bit off the end of the stem and sprinkle just that end with water. Then store in an airtight container in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
Asparagus
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within three to five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: There are a few storage options. Either put bundled stalks upright in a jar with one to two inches of water in the fridge or wrap the cut ends in a moist paper towel and put in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator. Asparagus toughens quickly when not chilled, so be sure to refrigerate it as soon as possible.
Avocados
  • Counter – Yes
  • Only refrigerate after they are ripe. Use within two to five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store on the counter until ripe, then refrigerate loose.
  • Place in a closed paper bag to accelerate ripening (adding an apple or banana will make them ripen even faster).
  • Again, do not refrigerate before ripe, or they will never ripen.
Bananas
  • Counter – Yes
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Remove any plastic wrapping.
  • Store bananas on the counter at room temperature, keep away from other fruit (unless you’re trying to ripen those fruit).
  • Once ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days.
  • TIME-SAVER – If they are ripe when you bring them home, peel the desired amount and lay on baking sheets. Freeze till solid then remove and place in Ziplock bags, return to freezer. This way they will be ready for when you want to make a frozen blended drink such as a smoothie.
Basil
  • Counter – Yes
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE:  Basil does not like the cold. To keep basil fresh, trim the stems and place them in a glass or jar of water, just like cut flowers. Loosely cover it with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter.
Beets
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven to ten days, but the greens should be used within one to two days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Cut the tops off to keep beets firm. If left on, moisture is drawn from the root, causing the flavor and firmness to diminish. Beets should be washed and kept in an open container with a wet towel on top.
Berries
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within two to three days. Blueberries can last up to ten days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use.
  • FREEZING: Rinse, dry, and place separated on a baking sheet, freeze, then transfer to airtight containers. Return to freezer.
  • TIME-SAVER – Freezing berries are great for smoothies, fruit sorbets, and for adding to cheesecakes.
Broccoli
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within five to seven days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the refrigerator. Do not store broccoli in a sealed container or plastic bag.
  • Tip: Don’t toss the stems, they are great to spiralize into noodles!
Broccoli Rabe
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten as soon as possible.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Place in an open container in the crisper.
Brussels Sprouts
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within ten days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. If bought on the stalk, leave on the stalk and put in the fridge or leave it in a cold place. If they’re bought loose, store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage
  • Counter – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven days. Cabbage will continue to lose moisture as it ages.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Keep your cabbage whole until you plan to use it. When you cut cabbage in half, it begins to lose its vitamin C. Remove outer leaves if they start to wilt.
Carrots
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within two weeks, or a few months in a root cellar environment. The carrot top greens should be enjoyed within two days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Remove the green tops to keep them fresh longer. Do not wash until ready to use. Place them in a closed container with plenty of moisture or wrapped in a damp towel.
Cauliflower
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within five to seven days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. When you get it home, unwrap it immediately (if sealed in plastic) and transfer to a loosely sealed plastic bag, with a paper towel tucked in to absorb any excess moisture.
Celery
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within two weeks.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Refrigerate either standing in a jar with water or in a perforated or open plastic bag in the high-humidity drawer. Do not separate stalks until just before use, then remove any damaged stalks and wash thoroughly.
Citrus
  • Refrigerate  –  Yes
  • Can go on the counter for four to five days, but will last three to eight weeks in the fridge.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store loosely in the low-humidity crisper drawer.
  • Do not put in a plastic bag or airtight container.
Celery root/Celeriac
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn on the Cob
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within two to three days if stored in the husk. Without the husk use within one to two days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Eat as soon as possible (the sugars in sweet corn turn to starch rapidly). Store in husks if possible in a warmer section (middle or upper shelf) of the refrigerator or, if husked, wrap in damp cloths in an airtight container.
Cucumber
  • Counter – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: If you plan on eating within one to two days, they can be left on the counter. Otherwise, place in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth within a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
Eggplant
  • Counter – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Eggplant does fine when left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it until ready to use.
Fennel
  • Counter – Yes
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: If used within a couple of days after it’s bought, fennel can be left out 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
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best eaten within two to three days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Arrange in a single layer in a cloth-lined, aerated or uncovered container.
Garlic
  • Refrigerate – Yes if peeled, unpeeled keep on the counter.
  • Best to be eaten with seven to fourteen days if peeled. Unpeeled, they can last several weeks to several months.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store unpeeled garlic in a cool, dark, and dry place in a well-ventilated container such as a basket or mesh bag. Do not store in plastic. To help prevent the heads from drying out, leave the papery skin on and break off cloves as needed. If peeled, store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Ginger
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within one to two months.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Refrigerate, either unwrapped or in an airtight container, in a dark section of the refrigerator.
Grapes
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within two weeks.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Keep unwashed bunches (grapes still on their stems) in a paper or breathable bag on a shelf in the refrigerator.
  • TIME-SAVER – Freezing whole grapes are not only great for smoothies, but they are a refreshing treat. Wash, dry, place separated on a baking sheet, freeze, then transfer to an airtight container.
Green Beans and Peas
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within three to five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store unwashed peas and beans in the refrigerator in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer, but try to eat them as quickly as possible.
Green Onions
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven to fourteen days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
Leafy Green
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within three to five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Remove twist ties and store loosely, with a damp cloth, in an airtight container in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
Leeks
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store in an open container in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth. You can store them on the counter in a shallow cup of water.
Melons
  • Counter – Yes
  • Refrigerate once ripe.
  • Best to be enjoyed within three to five days once cut open.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: If unripe, store whole in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Once ripe, store in the refrigerator. Refrigerate cut melon in an airtight container. If possible, do not remove the seeds from the remaining sections of sliced melon, as they keep the flesh from drying out.
Mushrooms
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Mushrooms should be used as quickly as possible after purchase. Do not wash until ready to use. Store in original packaging or in a paper bag on the lower shelf in the refrigerator and keep away from anything strong smelling, as they tend to absorb odors.
Onions
  • Counter – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven days if cut or several months if whole.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store whole onions in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated place. Do not store in plastic or near potatoes; onions will cause the potatoes to sprout.
Parsnips
  • Refrigerator – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within three to four weeks.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use — store in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.
Pears
  • Counter – Yes
  • Refrigerate once ripe.
  • Best to be eaten within five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature to ripen. Place in a closed paper bag to hasten ripening, apples or bananas will speed up the process even more. Not all pears change color when they ripen, but they will give to gentle pressure at the stem when they are ripe. Once ripe, refrigerate loosely in the low-humidity drawer. Bring back to room temperature before eating for best flavor.
Peppers
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within three days if cut or five to seven days if whole.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use — store in a breathable bag in the low-humidity drawer of the refrigerator. Store cut peppers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Radishes
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within seven to fourteen days, but the greens should be consumed within two to three days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Separate green tops from radishes (otherwise the greens will draw out moisture). Store radishes in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator, and store the greens as you would other dark greens.
Sweet Potatoes
  • Counter – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within one to two weeks, possibly longer.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use — store in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated place.
Tomatoes
  • Counter – Yes (unless cut, then put in fridge)
  • Best to be eaten within three days when ripe.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Store fresh tomatoes on the counter away from direct sunlight, with the stem end up to avoid bruising.
Turnips
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within fourteen days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use. Separate the turnips from their green tops (otherwise, the greens will draw out moisture). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, unless a root cellar is an option. Store the greens as you would hearty greens in the fridge.
Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Refrigerate – Yes
  • Best to be eaten within five days.
  • OPTIMAL STORAGE: Do not wash until ready to use — store in a breathable bag in the high-humidity drawer of the refrigerator.

7 thoughts on “Fight Food Waste – How to Store Produce

  1. lisaevers98 says:

    WOW!!! This is such great information… Thank you so much! I really appreciate your time you put into everything that you share. You are a true blessing.

  2. maureen says:

    Hello once again. And thank u in advance.

    Do u have instructions on how to prep celery for daily consumption ?

    I’m juicing an entire stalk for elimination daily. I’m purchasing 7 individually bagged organic stalks from my local grocery store.

    Need to get better organized. Any other suggestions on how to save money, mail order, etc?

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Maureen,

      I have been juicing and drinking 16 oz of fresh celery juice for 1.5 years now so my fridge is always well stocked with celery. I usually purchase 9 heads of celery at a time, which is roughly a week’s worth, depending on the head size of the celery). When I bring them home I immediately process all 9 celery heads.

      I cut the tips and ends off. If there are a lot of leaves, I pull them off because I find they make the juice too bitter. Some people may not have an issue with that but if I can’t handle the taste of it, no matter how nutritious it is for me, I won’t drink it.

      I then wash them in cold water and lay them on a towel. While they are draining off the water, I line a cambro container with a piece of paper towel (to absorb any moisture). I then shake off the excess water and lay them in the cambro, place the lid on top (or a dish towel if piled too high) and slide it in the fridge.

      Then every morning, I pull it out and make my juice. I have never had my celery go bad doing this routine.

      Suggestions on saving money? Hmm, the best advice is to shop sales (always buy organic with celery) and only buy what you can safely use so you don’t waste money throwing it away. I have a company where I order my dry goods from (they do drop zones in our town) and they carry organic produce, celery being one of them… but to be honest when it comes to produce I like to select my own since there can be a lot of variables.

      When I shop for organic celery I look for firm, wide stalks. I find the thinner stalks are way more bitter. Rubbery stacks tell me that it might go bad sooner than later so I avoid them if at all possible. Pale colored celery is also sweeter. I have paid as much as $2.99 a pound but I usually find sale prices that hit $1.79 / $1.59 / and this summer I had several months of it costing $.99 a pound. I bought 2 weeks’ worth at that price and it didn’t bad in that time frame.

      I hope that helps, blessings. amie sue

  3. maureen benoit says:

    Thank u sooo much. This is most helpful

  4. shawndi says:

    Excellent information! You rock, Amie Sue!

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