Did you buy too much produce at your local farmers market or grocery store? Perhaps you forgot about the veggies you bought last week and left them to die in the fridge? Rather than create more food waste, learning how to keep vegetables fresh longer helps you eat the food you buy in time and save money shopping.
How long do vegetables last anyway? Every plant is different. The right storage for each type of vegetable or fruit is the best and easiest way to make sure your food keeps longer.
Some foods are better in the refrigerator, while others thrive in a dark place or on the countertop at room temperature. Understanding the different storage needs for specific foods is how you genuinely help freshness last.
Table of Contents
- Keeping Vegetables Fresh Based on the Storage Area
- Store Most Veggies in the Crisper Drawer
- Stick Root Vegetables in a Plastic Bag
- Set Fruits on the Countertop
- Place Root Vegetables in a Dark, Dry Location
- Lay Lettuce and Leafy Greens on a Dry Paper Towel
- Wrap Hard Fresh Herbs in a Damp Paper Towel and Plastic
- Keep Mushrooms in a Paper Bag
- How to Keep Vegetables Fresh vs. Keeping Fruit Fresh
- Store Most Refrigerated Produce Unwashed
- Keep Room Temperature Veggies and Fruit Loose
- Storing with Care
- Storing Fruits Longer
- How Long do Vegetables Last?
- Is Wrapping Food in Aluminum Foil Safe?
Keeping Vegetables Fresh Based on the Storage Area
Properly storing food at home is essential, whether you are considering fruit vs vegetable or want to properly store rice and flour. Storing food the right way, especially fresh vegetables and fruits, is the only way to keep them safe. Learn how to keep vegetables fresh using our smart methods.
Whether you need to know where to store celery or green beans, we offer valuable tips for keeping your produce fresh until you are ready to eat it or use it in a delicious recipe.
The freezer is a great place to keep veggies for longer periods. Start freezing vegetables without blanching and some that do need to be blanched first and you will have them ready to eat for about a year.
Spend less and eat healthier with our proper storage techniques for keeping vegetables fresh. Keep in mind that the number of days varies. As long as you see no rot or mold, the food might be safe to eat.
Store Most Veggies in the Crisper Drawer
Keep some vegetables fresh longer in the fridge using the crisper drawer. Store your fruits and vegetables at temperatures between 33 and 40°F to maintain their integrity until you are ready to eat them or use them in a recipe.
Most refrigerators today come with a crisper, which might allow you to alter the humidity level by moving tiny air vents on the drawer. High humidity, or closed vents, are ideal for extending the shelf life of fresh veggies and is the best way to keep celery fresh.
Fresh produce like eggplant, bell peppers, celery, cauliflower artichokes, peas, cucumber, and zucchini last a week in the crisper. The best way to store Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and squash is in the crisper for up to five days.
Stick Root Vegetables in a Plastic Bag
Other items like radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips are best stored in a plastic bag in the drawer for up to two or three weeks.
If you found these veggies to grow exceptionally easy and have more than you can use, consider alternate storage methods like canning and freezing so that they don’t spoil before you can get to them.
You may also place lettuce and leafy greens in a plastic bag and store them inside the crisper for up to a week, but lettuce is a special case (more info on this later).
How do you keep onions fresh? Some root vegetables, like onions and parsnips, may last up to a month or two with proper storage. Fragile veggies may only keep for up to five days. However, most root veggies keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
Set Fruits on the Countertop
Many fruits, including stone fruits, bananas, and citrus, are best stored on the countertop. However, the only vegetable ideal for this location is tomatoes. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and other “fruits” might turn grainy in the fridge.
Store fruits and tomatoes on the countertop. Make sure they’re out of the sunlight and in a dry place. Wrap plastic wrap around the top of bananas for added shelf life.
The counter is the best way to store watermelon until you cut it. Then, the slices belong in the refrigerator.
Place Root Vegetables in a Dark, Dry Location
Many veggies thrive in cool or room temperature locations where there is no heat, light, or moisture. A pantry or a kitchen cupboard away from the oven is ideal, but any dark place works.
Where to keep potatoes so that they are ready to eat when you want them? All potatoes keep longer in a pantry, including sweet potatoes and yams. They last over a month with temperatures between 50 and 60°F.
Onions, garlic, shallots, and squash also fall into this category. However, keep onions and potatoes away from each other. The excess moisture onions produce causes early sprouting in potatoes.
Lay Lettuce and Leafy Greens on a Dry Paper Towel
Keeping lettuce fresh, as well as other leafy greens, including chard, kale, endive, and some types of fresh herbs require humidity and air circulation for freshness.
The leafy fresh herbs to keep soft and dry in the fridge include parsley, cilantro, mint, dill, tarragon, basil, and chervil.
Store Leafy Veggies in the Fridge
- Salad spinner
- Paper towels
- Non-airtight container
Rather than using a crisper or plastic bag, clean unwashed greens and spin dry them. Store greens and preserve lettuce in a non-airtight container with a paper towel. Never allow water to sit on them long.
For keeping cilantro fresh, as well as other leafy herbs and veggies, store the leftover leaves with a paper towel on top, and loosely seal them using plastic wrap.
Most leafy greens last longer in the fridge crisper. However, soft herbs do better standing in a jar of water in the fridge or on the countertop away from direct sunlight.
Cover the jar with a plastic produce bag and a rubber band to enclose the herbs. A loosely covered jar on your counter works for delicate herbs like basil.
When the time comes, replace the damp paper towel before spoilage takes place. If your leafy greens are too wet, sprinkle a bit of salt to help absorb the moisture.
For more long term storage, learn how to freeze cilantro and other leafy herbs and vegetables. They are ideal for adding to soups, stews, and smoothies.
Wrap Hard Fresh Herbs in a Damp Paper Towel and Plastic
For safety, wash fresh herbs before use. While they don’t carry the bacteria that cause illnesses, herbs can suffer from cross-contamination. Dunk them in a large bowl of cool water to gently clean.
Hard herbs like rosemary, sage, chives, savory, and thyme are different. Gently roll them in a damp paper towel after washing. Place the herbs in an unsealed plastic bag, and store them in a fridge. The crisper drawer helps the herbs remain moist.
Keep Mushrooms in a Paper Bag
Mushrooms are a special case as well. Storing mushrooms in a paper bag rather than plastic is better because the high water content evaporates too quickly and makes them slimy.
Place the plastic bag on the shelf of your refrigerator. Mushrooms stay fresh in a paper bag in the fridge for between three and five days.
How to Keep Vegetables Fresh vs. Keeping Fruit Fresh
Have you ever heard about how storing an apple with avocados helps them ripen faster? Unless your goal is a perfectly ripened avocado, store vegetables and fruits separately. Storing greens with fruit can cause decay in a few days.
Fresh fruit produces ethylene gas, so storing them together may cause ripening to accelerate and affect the other veggies and fruits nearby. When vegetables ripen, the result is spoilage.
One way to keep veggies and fruit apart is to designate each one a separate crisper drawer. Nectarines, apples, apricots, and plums are also exceptionally high ethylene producers, so always keep them away from avocados and other veggies.
How to tell if an avocado is ripe involves color and firmness. A dark avocado that responds to light finger pressure is usually just right for eating.
Store Most Refrigerated Produce Unwashed
Leave most refrigerated veggies unwashed. Store them in their original packaging, or loosely wrap them in plastic. This is the best way to store cauliflower in the refrigerator.
Wash and dry any dirty or sandy greens from the farmers market before storing them. Exceptions include soft herbs and mushrooms.
Keep Room Temperature Veggies and Fruit Loose
Remove the vegetables and fruits that are best stored at room temperatures or on the countertop from their packaging. Don’t cover them with plastic.
Allow ripe items to remain loose. Keeping avocados fresh until you are ready to eat them does not have to be challenging. Avocados and apricots, for example, ripen faster in a paper bag on the countertop.
Storing with Care
Store food whole, like how to keep cauliflower fresh, working not to break the skin or pull apart pieces of your fruits and veggies. Try to keep stems intact, and remove any spoilage before it affects the entire group.
Remove rubber bands and other ties from the store before storing, and make sure veggies receive plenty of air circulation.
Storing Fruits Longer
Some fruits thrive in the fridge. Others only continue to ripen if they sit out. If you store fruits in a crisper drawer or on the countertop, remember to keep them away from vegetables.
The refrigerator is the best place to thaw frozen cauliflower and other fruits and vegetables, as well. Put frozen produce in the fridge overnight before using so it has plenty of time to thaw.
Place Some Fruits in the Fridge
When you grow cantaloupe or if you buy it, know that it does well in a high humidity refrigerator crisper, which prevents drying. Bell peppers, citrus, grapes, and berries should always be refrigerated.
Know What Fruits Ripen on Countertops
Other fruits like stone fruit, melons, pears, and apples are fine on the countertop if they’re not quite ripe, while bananas are always at room temperature. Bananas also ripen quickly, which speeds up the ripening of nearby veggies and fruits.
Sometime Fruits Require Both Temperatures
Mangoes require a bit of both temperatures. Unripe mangoes thrive in a plastic bag at room temperature.
Place the bag in a dark area until the mangoes ripen. Then, move them to the fridge for about a week.
After apples ripen, keeping apples fresh in the crisper drawer of the fridge is best.
Rinse Berries with Vinegar
Berries are a bit more complicated. Rinse berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in a 1:3 ratio of white vinegar and water before storing them in the fridge for the best results.
How Long do Vegetables Last?
If you’re wondering how long your fruits and veggies last before they go bad, the answer depends on the produce and how you store them. The shelf life of common foods varies. Some vegetables keep for up to between four days and eight weeks in the fridge.
You can freeze most vegetables to make them last longer, too. Can you freeze lettuce and other leafy greens? Absolutely. Frozen leafy veggies are best for recipes and smoothies as they take on a limp and unappealing texture after they thaw. However, they still taste delicious.
An excellent way to preserve your favorite veggies is to pickle them. Make quick pickled vegetables with cauliflower, asparagus, cucumbers, and more for a delicious snack with a little kick.
Is Wrapping Food in Aluminum Foil Safe?
If a jar of water in the fridge isn’t ideal for you, further extend the shelf life of leafy greens in aluminum foil. Storing veggies like kale, celery, broccoli, and lettuce in foil decrease the spoilage rate. Aluminum foil may also help prevent freezer burn.
That said, some people claim storing and cooking food with foil is dangerous. A study from Environmental Science Europe (..) shows the health risk of using aluminum materials with food is vast with citrus. You also should never wrap anything acidic, like berries or tomatoes, in foil.
Stopping produce from going bad is a fight against natural elements, such as ethylene gas. With the right storage tips for each food, it’s much easier to slow down the ripening process and reduce the spoilage in your household. Less food spoiling means less wasted money.
How do you store your veggies and fruits? Are there any tips we left out? If you enjoyed learning how to keep vegetables fresh longer, please share our produce tips with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest.
Most vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and celery should be stored in a plastic bag or container in the crisper of your fridge. Mushrooms are best stored in a paper bag. Vegetables should be stored in a different part of the fridge than fruit. This will prevent them from ripening too fast.What are the five techniques in storing vegetables? ›
There are five methods of storing vegetables and fruit: drying, canning, curing and salting, freezing and common storage.What are 3 tips to make vegetables more appealing? ›
- Roast Them. 1/14. This brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables. ...
- Snack on Green 'Chips' 2/14. ...
- Fire Up the Grill. 3/14. ...
- Serve Them With a Tasty Dip. 4/14. ...
- Use Them in a Dip. 5/14. ...
- Pair Them With Fruit. 6/14. ...
- Turn Them Into Noodles. 7/14. ...
- Blend Them Into a Smoothie. 8/14.
Most fruits and veggies can be stored in the refrigerator. Did you know that apples soften ten times faster at room temperature than in the fridge? A crisper drawer will help protect your produce and keep the moisture in to maintain freshness for longer.How do you keep broccoli fresh for 2 weeks? ›
Wrap with a damp paper towel.
You can spritz the broccoli florets with some water from a spray bottle before storing them in the refrigerator. This mimics the mister at the food store, which helps keep produce crisp. After spritzing, wrap the broccoli bunch loosely in a paper towel.
Controlled-atmosphere storage and packaging (with lower levels of oxygen and higher levels of carbon dioxide than normal air) can further slow down deterioration. A chemical called 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is also used to extend the storage life of some fruits and vegetables even more.What is a rule for storing vegetables? ›
Keep at room temperature, best not in the refrigerator.
Dense raw vegetable such as potatoes and onions are well suited to being stored in cold cellars or cool room temperatures. Be sure to store fresh fruit and vegetables in a refrigerator or cooler at or below 4°C (40°F) within two hours of peeling or cutting.
- Master the stir fry. ...
- Limit boiling. ...
- Roast 'em. ...
- Embrace healthy fats. ...
- Be cautious with the C. ...
- Fill the freezer. ...
- Avoid the grilling overkill. ...
- Choose cooked more than not.
Temperature: The temperature at which food is stored is very critical to shelf life. United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, states that for every 10.8 degrees in temperature rise you decrease the shelf life of stored food by half. The best range for food storage is a constant temperature between 40-60 degrees.What makes a vegetable good quality? ›
Check the characteristic signs of freshness such as bright, lively color in the vegetable and look to see if the vegetable is crisp and free of soft spots. Vegetables are at their peak during their harvest season, this is also when vegetables are the most affordable to purchase.
It is best to add dry herb based seasoning around the middle of cooking the vegetables. Fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro/coriander leaves, basil are best added at the end of cooking. Raw ground spice seasoning such as curry powder, Chinese five spice, taco seasoning are better added at the beginning.How important are the proper ways of storing vegetables Why? ›
Storing fresh fruits and vegetables properly is very important. Safe storage can keep you from getting sick from a food borne illness. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be stored unwashed. However, fruits and vegetables that are very dirty after harvest can be rinsed and dried well before storing.How do you preserve vegetables for years? ›
Freezing Is an Easy Way to Preserve Your Healthy Fruits and Vegetables. The easiest way to ensure your fruits and veggies last is to freeze them. Freezing works best with fruits and vegetables that are picked at the peak of their ripeness and freshness.How do you prepare and store vegetables? ›
By "prep," I mean wash, dry, peel (if appropriate), and cut up. To prevent drying out in the refrigerator, put a damp paper towel on top of the cut vegetables and store in an airtight container. You can also blanch vegetables 1 to 2 days in advance and store in the refrigerator.What is the best way to store fresh broccoli and cauliflower? ›
Store broccoli and cauliflower unwashed in an open plastic bag in fridge. Don't store on the counter. Use within 1 week. Store brussels sprouts in the refridgerator in a container without a lid to keep for several weeks.What veggies should not be refrigerated? ›
- Garlic scapes.
- Winter squash: acorn, butternut, delicata, and kabocha.
- Fresh herbs: parsley, mint, and basil*
Stash the broccoli in a cold part of your refrigerator — like the crisper drawer — preferably away from fruits and that produce excessive ethylene gas like apples. If there's no room in the crisper, store it on a shelf near the back of the fridge.Should vegetables be kept in plastic bags? ›
An airtight plastic bag is the worst choice for storing vegetables, according to Barry Swanson, professor emeritus of food science at Washington State University. And don't pack veggies tightly together, either; they need space for air circulation or they'll spoil faster.What are the 3 guidelines for storing food properly? ›
Store raw foods below cooked foods. Store food in suitable, covered containers. Avoid refreezing thawed foods. Check and observe the use-by dates on food products.What are 5 rules to follow when storing food safely? ›
- Refrigerate or freeze perishables right away. ...
- Keep your appliances at the proper temperatures. ...
- Check storage directions on labels. ...
- Use ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible. ...
- Be alert for spoiled food. ...
- Be aware that food can make you very sick even when it doesn't look, smell, or taste spoiled.
- To prepare:
- Option one: Wrap your lettuce loosely in a tea towel or bento cloth and tie a knot to close. ...
- Option two: Place your washed and dried greens in a loosely sealed reusable food storage bag. ...
- Option three: Freeze your greens!
- Chemical Method. Salt and edible oils are two main preservatives which are used since ages to prevent microbial growth. ...
- Sugar. Sugar is another common preservative used in jams and jellies. ...
- Heat and Cold Methods. ...
- Smoking. ...
- Canning. ...
- Sterilization. ...
- Dehydration. ...
Modern methods include canning, pasteurization, freezing, irradiation, and the addition of chemicals.What are 5 ways to preserve nutrients when cooking fruits and vegetables? ›
Waterless cooking, pressure cooking, steaming, stir-frying and microwaving are least destructive of nutrients. Frozen vegetables can be steamed. If food is cooked in water, add it to a small amount of boiling water, cover the pot and cook it rapidly. If possible, save the cooking water for making soup, sauces or gravy.What is the oldest method to preserve or store vegetables? ›
Drying is the oldest method of food preservation. This method reduces water activity which prevents bacterial growth. Drying reduces weight so foods can be carried easily.Should I wash produce before refrigerating? ›
Do not wash them before storage. Instead, wash them when you are ready to use them. If the produce is very dirty, rinse it and then dry it well before storing it. Keep your storage areas clean and pest-free.Does storing vegetables in water make them last longer? ›
Water. Storing cut fruits and vegetables in water seems counterintuitive, but it is a great way to store hardy vegetables like carrots, celery, and potatoes after they are cut. To prolong their freshness, always store in fresh cool water and change out the water every few days for even longer-term storage.Do vegetables last longer in the fridge or on the counter? ›
These fruits and veggies will stay fresh and last longer if you keep them in the fridge: Asparagus. Beans. Beets.What fresh vegetables should not be refrigerated? ›
- Garlic scapes.
- Winter squash: acorn, butternut, delicata, and kabocha.
- Fresh herbs: parsley, mint, and basil*
Vegetables need to breathe.
An airtight plastic bag is the worst choice for storing vegetables, according to Barry Swanson, professor emeritus of food science at Washington State University. And don't pack veggies tightly together, either; they need space for air circulation or they'll spoil faster.
Adjust the Humidity Sliders
The crisper drawer extends the life of your fruits and vegetables by controlling the airflow around them via the vents. Most crisper drawers have adjustable humidity vents, allowing you to close off the airflow (creating more humidity) or open it up (creating a low-humidity environment).
- Pumpkins. So long as you don't carve it into a jack-o-lantern, fresh pumpkins can last up to four months in the refrigerator. ...
- Beets. ...
- Sweet Potatoes. ...
- Cabbage. ...
- Spaghetti Squash. ...
- Carrots. ...
Even though cucumbers are prone to chilling injury, the fridge is still the best place to store them. At room temperature, cucumbers will only last for about two days. So, what's the solution? Store cucumbers in the warmest part of the fridge — towards the front, furthest from the cooling elements.Should you refrigerate ketchup? ›
“Because of its natural acidity, Heinz Ketchup is shelf-stable. However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product be refrigerated after opening to maintain the best product quality.”