Not all vegetables and fruits are created equal when it comes to storage. Some vegetables, like broccoli and carrots, prefer the fridge while others like avocados and tomatoes prefer the counter or window sill and stop ripening when they get cold.
How to know what to do with your produce so that it will last as long as possible? You can start by looking at the vegetables and fruits at the grocery store and for the most part store them as they are stored there. You can also look at the list below and use that as your guide.
Keep these vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator:
Lettuce & Leaf Greens
Keep these vegetables and fruits at room temperature – on the counter or in a pantry:
When storing any produce in the fridge or out on the counter, it is good to remember a few tips:
Always use a strainer or any bowl with good air circulation for smaller veggies and fruit to keep them from over ripening or place them directly on the shelf or in the produce drawer for larger items.
Wait until just before use to wash your produce or the moisture from washing them will soften or wilt your food.
When only using a portion of a fruit or vegetable you should wrap the remainder or put in a container and refrigerate and when using only part of an item that might yellow or turn brown, like an apple or an avocado, you can wrap in plastic so that the plastic clings to the exposed part of the food. This will prevent air from getting into contact with the food.
If you want to speed up the ripening of certain foods, like bananas and avocados, you can place them in a brown paper bag, but if you have produce out on the counter that is fully ripe and you want it to last longer you can move it into the fridge and the cold will stop the ripening process.
Onions and potatoes both like dry, dark storage and tomatoes liked to be turned over and placed on a sill to ripen.
These tips should keep your veggies and fruits ripened for a few days to a week or in some cases longer, but look for softening or bruising when storing your produce. These are signs that your produce might be getting old. While you certainly don’t want to use rotted food, you can use slightly aged produce just as well as newly purchased or picked, just differently.
Fruits that have begun to soften make great smoothies. Brown bananas work really well for bread and muffins. An onion that is just beginning to soften will cook and brown nicely. An apple with some soft spots makes wonderful apple sauce.
So store your produce well and it will last quite a while, but even when it starts to brown most veggies and fruits will still be delicious!
Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics