There’s a big difference between biting into a crisp apple versus a mealy, mushy one. Or creating a salad with bright, crisp lettuce versus the wilted, shriveled stuff. We want to eat the good produce: the fresh, vibrant-colored fruits and vegetables that taste like you’re doing good things for your body. Sure, we won’t knock anyone for stashing bags of peas or spinach in the freezer, but generally, buying fresh produce is tastier. Here are our tips and tricks for how to store produce:
1. Don’t Cut Your Produce Before You Store It
Any bruise or nick to your fruits and vegetables will cause them to deteriorate at a faster rate, so don’t trim any leaves and try to be delicate with your softer fruits like peaches and plums.
If you do only need a few slices of fruit or veggies, keep the leftovers fresh by storing them properly. These reusable produce savers seal in freshness and keep odors from mingling in the fridge.
2. Don’t Wash Produce Until You’re Ready to Eat It
Produce should be kept dry. Produce that’s sitting in water can rot, wilt, and accumulate icky juices easily, so it’s best to minimize the amount of water that sits on the delicate leaves of your greens. If your grocery store keeps the veggies in water or sprays them, make sure to take a towel to your produce before storing it in your fridge.
3. Let Your Produce Breathe
You want to promote airflow and avoid crushing produce in your crisper drawer or on fridge shelves. When produce rests against walls or is still bagged, moisture can build up and cause rotting. Let your fruits and vegetables spread out if they can.
4. One Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch
The saying is true! Pick out any moldy berries or bruised apples and toss them—they will turn the rest of your produce bad.
5. Check the Temperature of Your Fridge
If it’s too cold in there, your produce can freeze so we recommend keeping your fridge at 35-38℉.
6. Garlic, Onions, and Potatoes Should Be Stored out of Light and in the Pantry
Garlic and onions will start to sprout if they’re left under harsh light, and they’ll get mushy if they’re kept in the fridge. Potatoes can turn green if they’re in harsh light, and their starches will turn into sugars if they’re refrigerated.
7. Separate Ethylene-Producing Fruits from Ethylene-Sensitive Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process, so it’s important to separate fruits (which are typically ethylene producing) from vegetables (usually ethylene sensitive). Take a banana for example—bananas give off a lot of ethylene gas so if you put one next to a hard avocado, the avocado will ripen much faster.
8. Use Your Crisper Drawers (Correctly!)
The crisper drawer in your fridge can actually help save your produce—it’s not just another storage drawer! Many crisper drawers are temperature-controlled with a toggle or small vent. Slide the vent open for fruit because they don’t like humidity. Keep the vent closed for vegetables because they like to be in high humidity so they don’t lose moisture. No matter what type of produce, vents stay open if it’s been cut. If you don’t have any controls on your drawers, the crisper is still working as a high-humidity spot for vegetables. It can be hard to remember these rules, so that’s why we’ve done some of the work for you. GreenSaver(Opens in a new window) promotes airflow, controls humidity and absorbs ethylene gas, so your produce can be stored in the refrigerator and stay fresh for longer. Read more on the science behind why produce rots and how we’re fixing it. We’ve also broken down the venting guidelines for your GreenSaver and crisper drawers here, and our guidelines for where to ripen and store produce:
Ripen this produce on the counter, then store in the fridge:
Store these fruits and vegetables at room temperature:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Squash
Need more food storage advice? Learn how to properly store dry foods, fresh herb storage tips, the best way to store leftovers, and tips for keeping coffee beans fresh.