Your Storage Guide to Fresh Produce

plastic containers for food

Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together! Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables.

For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.

For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash Cut on Board

Storage: Store acorn squash at room temperature on counter top or in pantry, away from fruits like bananas. Squash will stay good for 3 months uncut, and about a week cut or cubed in the refrigerator.

 

Apples

Apples with engraved hearts

Storage: For every 10 degrees above 30°F, the apples’ lifespan decreases dramatically.You do not want the apples’ temperature to fall below 30°F, however, because that will make them freeze and turn to mush when they’re thawed. Therefore, apples are best stored somewhere around 30-35°F, in a humid environment. Store apples in the crisper drawer inside the fridge, and lay a slightly dampened paper towel on top of the apples. We also discovered the truth of that old adage: “One bad apple rots the whole bunch.” Apples give off a lot of ethylene gas, and so just one bruised and rotting apple will give off enough to swiftly ripen (and rot) the others. If there are any bruises or soft spots on an apple, set it aside for eating. Don’t store with the other apples.

Arugula

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Storage: Arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet. Dunk in cold water and drain or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.

 

Asparagus

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Storing: Place asparagus upright and  loosely packed in a glass or bowl with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)

Cleaning: Rinse the spears under cool water to remove any grit. Snap off the bottom inch or so using your fingers; the stems will naturally break where the tough woody part ends and the tender stem begins. Dry the spears by rolling them between two kitchen towels. You can leave the spears whole or cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces for a stir-fry or other preparation.

Basil

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Storage: Basil should be treated like a bouquet of flowers: Just trim the ends, place in a glass with an inch or so of water, and place on the counter at room temperature. (The leaves will turn black if refrigerated.) The bunch should remain fresh for anywhere from a few days to a week. You can also try this with similar long-stemmed herbs. When you’re ready to cook with them, just grab a bunch and go.

Beets

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Storage: Cut the tops off to keep beets firm. Leaving the tops/greens on any root vegetables with draw moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top. But remember, you can keep the greens and cook them!

 

Bell Pepper

Bell Pepper

Storage: Place peppers in refrigerator crisper drawer. Green bell peppers have a slightly longer life of one week- 10 days, but  you should try to use red, yellow and orange peppers within five days.

 

Blackberries

blackberries

Storage: First, discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold. If you are eating within two days, wash berries and spread in a single layer on a paper towel–lined plate or store in a paper towel lined bowl. Berries usually will stay fresh only two days when refrigerated.

Freezing: Place the berries on a pan in a single layer. Place in freezer overnight. Place the berries in a vacuum bag or a Ziploc type bag and remove excess air. The more air you can remove the less freezer burn the blackberries will have.

Blueberries

blueberries-130x90Storage: First, discard damaged or moldy berries before storing to prevent the spread of mold. If you are eating within five days, wash berries and spread in a single layer on a paper towel–lined plate or store in a paper towel lined bowl. Berries usually will stay fresh five days when refrigerated. For longer storage, refrain from washing. Store in a sealed plastic or glass container in a refrigerator. Cover. Blueberries should last 2 weeks in this condition if they are freshly picked. Wash before eating.

Freezing: Refrain from washing the blueberries prior to freezing. While the difference may be imperceptible, washing can result in a slightly tougher skin once the berry thaws. Place the berries on a pan in a single layer. Place in freezer overnight. Place the berries in a vacuum bag or a Ziploc type bag and remove excess air. The more air you can remove the less freezer burn the blueberries will have.

Bok Choy


DSC_2900Storage: Refrigerate in plastic bag and do not wash until ready to use. Will keep for 3-4 days.

Freezing: Wash leaves thoroughly and cut off woody stems.  Blanch Bok Choy for two minutes and chill quickly in ice cold water. Drain off excess moisture, package in air tight container or freezer bag and freeze immediately. Will keep 10-12 months when frozen.

 

Broccoli

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Storage: Place broccoli in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

 

 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

Storing: Brussels Sprouts will keep for quite a while once they’ve been picked – at least several weeks.  Go ahead and take the sprouts off the stalk, but leave all their outer leaves intact. Store them in the fridge in a bowl or open storage container. The outer leaves will shrivel and wilt in the open air, but the inner part of the sprout will remain protected.

Cleaning: Remove outer leaves before cooking.

Butterkin Squash

butterkin2

Storage: Store Butterkin Squash at room temperature on the countertop or in a pantry, away from fruits like bananas. Squash will stay good  for 3 months uncut, and about a week cut or cubed in the refrigerator.

 

Cabbage

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Storage: Cabbage left out on a cool counter is fine for up to a week. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to loose its moisture after a week , so it is best if used as soon as possible.

 

Cantaloupe

cantaloupe

Storage: Store cantaloupe at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate. It will keep for up to 1 week whole. If cut, place in air-tight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freezing: Cut melon in half and remove seeds and rind. Slice or cube melon, or scoop into balls. Place in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.

Carrots

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Storage: First, cut off the carrot greens. Even if you are going to use the greens later, cut them off and store them separately to keep them from sapping nutrients from the roots. (Interesting tidbit: Did you know that fresh carrots, stored long enough, will start to re-grow their leafy tops?) Store the carrots in a covered container filled with water. This will keep them fresh for a long time!

Celery

CeleryStorage: Celery can be stored in the plastic bag it generally is sold in, however make sure to rinse and dry it before storing. You should also remove any damaged stalks before storage as well. Celery stored this way will generally last for about 10 days.

 

 

Chard

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Storing: In order to keep your greens fresh it is important to wash, cut and store them as soon after purchasing as possible. Wash and trim your chard, and put it in a strainer or salad spinner to dry excess water. Spread two paper towels  on your counter and pile the dry leaves on one end. Wrap the paper towel around the lettuce and then add some more leaves and continue the process until all the chard is wrapped up.  Make sure to wrap the leaves up tightly. Slide the rolls into a gallon sized plastic bag. Squeeze the air out and close the bag. Place the sealed bags in your crisper. The chard should stay good for about a week to 2 weeks. This storage method also makes grabbing a handful of already prepared chard for a quick dinner super easy.

Cherries

cherries

Storage: Cold storage is key to keeping cherries fresh. Cherries can lose more quality in one hour at room temperature than a day in the refrigerator. Get your cherries in the fridge as soon as possible, preferably wrapped in a plastic bag. Wash them with cold water just before eating. Avoid washing prior to storage, as moisture can be absorbed where the stem meets the fruit and lead to splits or spoilage. Cherries can also be frozen. Pit them if you wish, or keep them whole with stems intact. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until firm, and then place in a bag or container.

Cleaning: Wash only right before eating.

Chiles

Chiles

Storage: Use them as soon after purchasing as possible. Otherwise, store them for up to two weeks wrapped in a dry terry-cloth towel inside a paper bag in the refrigerator or a cool dark place. Do not freeze.

 

Cilantro

cilantro_@72

Storage: Cilantro can be treated like a bouquet of flowers: Just trim the ends, place upright in a glass with an inch or so of water, and place on the counter at room temperature. (The leaves will turn black if refrigerated). Make sure not to get excess water on the leaves. The bunch should remain fresh for anywhere from a few days to a week. You can also try this with similar long-stemmed herbs. When you’re ready to cook with them, just grab a bunch and go.

Collard Greens

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Storage: Wrap greens, unwashed, in damp paper towels until you are ready to use them. Keep the wrapped greens in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to about five days. When you are ready to cook the greens make sure to rinse them first.

 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Storage: Store cucumbers out of the refrigerator at room temperature. Cucumbers are sensitive to temperatures below 50°F and may develop “chilling injuries” including water-soaked areas, pitting, and accelerated decay. If you refrigerate your cucumbers, limit it to 1-3 days and eat them as soon as possible. It’s also suggested to keep them off the bottom shelf or in the crisper (which is usually the coldest part of your refrigerator.)

*Special note: cucumbers are highly sensitive to ethylene and should be kept away from bananas, melons, and tomatoes, in particular.

Dill

Dill

Storage: Wrap dill in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Freezing: Wash, trim and chop the dill. Allow to dry thoroughly. Once dry, place in heavy-duty freezer bags or freeze in ice cube trays with a small amount of water, then transfer to freezer bags.

Eggplant


EggplantStorage: Eggplant generally should not be refrigerated because the low temperatures can damage the texture and flavor. Although it may be kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 days if used soon after removal. Keep eggplant in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight, and use it as soon as possible after harvesting or buying. You can place it in a vented bowl, but avoid sealing it in a plastic bag, which can increase decay.

 

Figs

figs

Storage: Figs are one of the most perishable fruits. Store your figs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them (preferably within 2 days). Avoid unnecessary bruising by keeping them on a plate or a very shallow bowl and cover with plastic wrap so you don’t end up with dried-up figs. Before using, wash them under cool water and pat dry. Make sure to remove the stem.

Garlic

Garlic

Store in a cool, dark place.

 

 

Grapes

DSC_2911

Storage: Grapes are best stored in a paper bag (or perforated plastic) in the refrigerator. They will last one to two weeks.

 

Green Beans

Green Beans

Storage: Store unwashed fresh beans in a reusable container or plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days. They like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container will also work, or you can add a damp paper towel into your storage bag.

Freezing: Rinse your green beans in cool water and then drain. Cut the ends of the beans off and then cut the beans to whatever length you prefer.

Jalapeno

Jalapeño

Storage: Put jalapenos in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper or refrigerator.  They should last about one week.

Freezing: Slice or chop peppers, and then place in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, or wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  They will keep 10-12 months.

Kale

kale_@72

Storing: In order to keep your greens fresh it is important to wash, cut and store them as soon after purchasing as possible. Wash and trim your kale, and put in a strainer or salad spinner to dry excess water. Spread two paper towels (still connected) on your counter and pile the dry leaves on one end. Wrap the paper towel around the kale and then add some more leaves and continue the process until all the kale is wrapped up.  Make sure to wrap the leaves up tightly. Slide the rolls into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Squeeze the air out and close the bag. Place the sealed bags in your crisper. The chard should stay good for about a week to 2 weeks and makes grabbing a handful of already prepared kale for a quick dinner super easy.

Leeks

leeks_@72

Storage: Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture.

 

Lemongrass

Lemon Grass

Storage: Wrap lemongrass in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Will stay fresh for 10-14 days.

Freezing: Wash, trim and chop the lemongrass. Allow to dry thoroughly. Once dry, place in heavy duty freezer bags or freeze in ice cube trays with a small amount of water then transfer to freezer bags. Will keep frozen, 4 to 6 months.

Lettuce

Great Lakes Lettuce

Storing: Wash, dry and cut your lettuce and store in the refrigerator. You can follow the storage preparation for chard or kale and use paper towels and ziploc bags or you can try another method – the towel method. You prepare their greens by cutting them into bite-sized pieces, wash them, and shake off the excess water in a salad spinner. Then spread the greens out on clean bath towels to air dry for a few hours. When you’re ready to store the greens (or you need your counters back), simply roll the towels up with the greens inside.  Secure rolls with rubber bands and stored in the bottom shelf of their fridge. Each night, unroll just enough greens for salads the next day and then bundle them up again.

Lima Beans

Lima Beans

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag for 3-5 days.

Freezing: Shell and wash beans. Blanch for three minutes and chill quickly in ice cold water. Drain off excess moisture, packaging in airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze immediately.

Microgreens

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Storage: Enclose completely dry greens in sealed plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for up to five days.

 

Mint

mint-130x90

Storage: Everyone knows that while fresh herbs are some of the tastiest things to keep on hand, they often wilt and shrivel up only the day after purchase. This is because herbs can be extremely finicky when storing. For mint, fill up a a glass or small storage container with a bit of water and place the stem ends in the water. Loosely cover the herbs with a plastic bag, and store the herbs in your refrigerator. If the water begins to discolor, change it out every few days.  Grab a bunch of herbs out when you’re ready to cook and voila!

Morel Mushrooms

mushrooms-morel-130x90

Storage: Store in the refrigerator in a paper bag. They’ll actually keep for several days, but their quality deteriorates rapidly once they’ve been washed, so do not wash before storing. Cleaning: There’s a lot of debate about whether morels should be rinsed under water, dry-brushed with a paper towel, or soaked in salted water to remove the grit. We opt for a middle ground and rinse them quickly under cool running water. Use an old soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub between the folds and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Morels have a hollow center and the larger mushrooms can sometimes collect dirt or the occasional insect inside. In these cases, slice the morels in half before cleaning. The presentation isn’t quite as striking, but it’s a compromise in order to avoid sandy mushrooms. Both the cone-shaped body and the stem are edible. Trim the end of the stem if it’s particularly woody or dried out.

Mushrooms

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Storage: Locally grown mushrooms keep better in a paper bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. The paper allows for better airflow while the crisper drawer keeps the air slightly humid and prevents the mushrooms from drying out. They’ll start to get a little shriveled by the end of the week, but are still good for cooking.

Cleaning: Only clean mushrooms right before cooking. Softly wash, and enjoy!

Okra


OkraStorage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag; do not wash until ready to use.  Okra will stay fresh for approximately 3 days.

Freezing: Wash okra thoroughly and remove stems. Blanch for three minutes and chill quickly in ice cold water. Drain off excess moisture, leave okra whole or sliced, and package in airtight containers or freezer bags.

 

Onions

white-onions-130x90

Storage: Store at room temperature on the counter top or in the pantry, where air can circulate, for up to two months whole. If cut, store in refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

 

 

Oregano

oregano-130x90

Storage: Wrap in a damp paper towel and store in bag in refrigerator. Will keep fresh for about 10 days.

Drying: Tie the stalks together with a small string around the stems. Hang the cut stalks upside down in a dry, warm and well-ventilated room. This may take up a lot of space, but when you prepare oregano, the yield is much smaller than the initial hanging stalks. Let the stalks hang for a week. Separate the flowers from the leaves. When you prepare oregano for storage, you want to harvest the leaves and flowers separately. Strip the leaves from the stalk by running your hand up and down the branch. It’s best to have a clean counter space, because the dry oregano leaves will fall off in a pile. Collect the leaves and crumple them up with your fingers to make them powdery. Push the dry oregano onto a piece of paper, and use the paper as a funnel to pour the herb into airtight jars.

Parsley

parsley-130x90

Storage: Parsley should be treated like a bouquet of flowers: Just trim the ends, place in a glass with an inch or so of water, and place on the counter at room temperature. (The leaves will turn black if refrigerated.) Make sure not to get excess water on the leaves. The bunch should remain fresh for anywhere from a few days to a week. You can also try this with similar long-stemmed herbs. When you’re ready to cook with them, just grab a bunch and go.

Peaches

Storage: Store at room temperature until ripe as refrigerating peaches before they are ripe can lead to loss of flavor, texture and appearance. To hasten ripening, place peaches in a paper bag at room temperature, and check daily. Once ripe, place peaches in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

 

Peanuts

Peanut

Storage: Place shelled or unshelled peanuts in a sealed storage container. If they have been shelled they will last in the refrigerator for three months. Unshelled peanuts will keep from four to six months in the refrigerator.

Freezing: Package the peanuts in freezer-safe containers for long-term storage. When frozen, they will last indefinitely. To avoid freezer-burn you may want to wrap the peanuts in plastic before you place them in the freezer container.

Roasting: Roast the peanuts before packaging to add variety. This is easily done-simply roast the shelled or unshelled peanuts for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. When frozen, they will last at least six months.

Pumpkin

Miniature decorative pumpkins and swiss chard

Storage: As a rule of thumb, pumpkins can normally be stored for 30 – 90 days. For long term storage, wash the pumpkins in a very mild chlorine solution. Use one cup (8 ounces) of chlorine to one gallon of water. This will destroy bacteria which may cause the fruit to rot. Allow the pumpkin to dry completely. Store the pumpkin in a cool, dry and dark place (if possible).

Avoid hot and humid places, even if storing for only a couple of weeks. Pumpkins are best stored on a board or piece of cardboard. Do not store the fruit on a cement or wood floor, as they tend to rot.

Plums

plums

Storing unripe plums: Place the unripe plums in a paper bag. If your plums do not yet smell fragrant and feel slightly soft to the touch, they need to ripen outside the refrigerator for a few days. As plums and other fruits ripen, they release ethylene. Placing them together in a paper bag surrounds the plums with this gas and causes them to ripen more quickly. Don’t put unripe plums in the refrigerator. They won’t be able to continue the ripening process in the cold climate. If you aren’t in a hurry for the plums to ripen, you can put them in a bowl on the counter instead of in a paper bag.

Ripe plums: Smell the fruit. Do they smell rich, fragrant and fresh? Feel the plums. Do they indent slightly when you press your thumb into their sides? If so, the plums are ripe, and ready to either eat or go into longer-term storage.

Storing Ripe Plums: Place them in an open plastic bag – not a sealed one. Plums stored in the refrigerator will last two to four weeks.

Purple Hull Peas

Red bean pods in wicker basket over white background

Freezing: Wash shelled peas and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes; cool immediately in ice water, and drain well. Package in air-tight containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, or in zip-top plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Seal, and freeze up to 6 months.

 

Radishes

turnips

Storage: 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. Do not wash radishes until just before you eat them. They are most crunchy if eaten within 3 days but will keep fresh for up to two weeks.

Sage

Sage

Storage: Everyone knows that while fresh herbs are some of the tastiest thing to keep on hand, they often wilt and shrivel up only the day after purchase. This is because herbs can be extremely finicky when storing. For sage, fill up a a glass or small storage container with a bit of water and place the stem ends in the water. Loosely cover the herbs with a plastic bag, and store the herbs in your refrigerator. If the water begins to discolor, change it out every few days.  Grab a bunch of herbs out when you’re ready to cook and voila!

Scallions

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Storage: Everyone hates the moment when they go to grab their bunch of scallions, and they’ve gone limp. The best way to keep them fresh is in a jar filled with an inch or two of water. Remove the rubber band, stand the scallions in the jar, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, and keep it in the fridge. Stored this way, the scallions will stay crisp for about a week.

Sorrel

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Storage: If you’re going to use it within a day or two, simply keep sorrel loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge. For longer storage, rinse it clean, pat it dry, and roll the leaves up in paper towels before putting them in the plastic. The paper towels will sop up any excess liquid, keeping the leaves at once dry but in a damp-enough environment.

Spaghetti Squash

Split Spaghetti Squash

Storage: Store squash in a cool, dry place (preferably 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) up to 3 months. Refrigeration will make the squash spoil quickly, but squash can be stored in the refrigerator 1-2 weeks. Cut squash should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Strawberries

strawberries-130x90

Storage: Don’t wash strawberries until you’re ready to eat them or use them – strawberries are like small sponges ready to soak up all the water they can come into contact with, and once they’ve soaked it up they are quicker to turn to mush and rot away.  If you plan on eating or cooking with the berries within a day, you can leave the strawberries out at room temperature. For overnight storage, however, you’re better off refrigerating them. Line a shallow bowl or rimmed plate with several layers of paper towels, place the strawberries in a single layer on the towels, cover, and chill the berries until you’re ready to use them. Stored this way, very fresh strawberries will keep for several days.

Summer Squash

summer-squash-130x90

Storage: Refrigerate yellow squash and zucchini, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer, removing as much air from the bag as possible. Summer squash will stay fresh three to five days.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Storage: You can theoretically store corn for several days refrigerated in the husk, but cobs will gradually lose their sweetness and begin to taste starchy even when cooked. Corn connoisseurs will tell you that sweet corn should be eaten the day its picked, preferably within hours, while the corn is at its sugary peak. With any corn you can’t eat right away, it’s best to slice off the kernels and freeze them for using in soups or salads.

Sweet Potatoes

sweet-potatoes-130x90

Storage: Sweet potatoes don’t need to be refrigerated and should ideally be stored in a dark environment at about 45 to 50-degrees Fahrenheit. At warmer or more humid temperatures, they have a tendency to start sprouting or going bad. Mature potatoes store better than “new” or “fingerling” potatoes because their skins are a little tougher and they’re less susceptible to rot once off the vine. If kept cool and in a dark environment, these potatoes will stay good for several months.

*Interesting fact: Sweet potatoes stay fresh much longer if you do not rinse the dirt off after being picked.

Thyme

thyme-130x90

Storage: Everyone knows that while fresh herbs are some of the tastiest thing to keep on hand, they often wilt and shrivel up only the day after purchase. This is because herbs can be extremely finicky when storing. For thyme, fill up a a glass or small storage container with a bit of water and place the stem ends in the water. Loosely cover the herbs with a plastic bag, and store the herbs in your refrigerator. If  the water begins to discolor, change it out every few days.  Grab a bunch of herbs out when ready to cook and voila!

Tomatoes

DSC_2890

Storage: Do not refrigerate! Tomatoes are surprisingly delicate, and refrigerating tomatoes damages the membranes inside the fruit walls, causing the tomato to lose flavor and develop the mealy texture we associate with mid-January grocery store tomatoes. The best place to store tomatoes is on the counter top at room temperature. They actually continue to develop flavor until maturation peaks a few days after picking.

Watermelon

 Ripe juicy watermelonStorage: Compared to most fruits, watermelons need a more “tropical” climate – a thermometer reading of 55° F is ideal. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature. Store them too long, and they’ll lose flavor and texture. After cutting, store watermelon in an airtight contaoner in refrigerator for 3-4 days.