produce

You’ve just returned from the farmer’s market with two canvas bags full of gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies. You sit down at the kitchen table to plan out the delicious dishes you’ll cook up for the week. But after one look at your calendar, you know deep in your heart you can’t possibly eat and cook all of this produce in one week. And sadly there’s a high probability that some of it will go to waste.

You are not alone. The typical American family throws out almost 500 pounds of food a year. That is a lot wasted of money! Here are some tips on how to store fresh fruits and veggies so you don’t become a statistic.

Know Which Fruits and Veggies Produce Gas

Fruits and veggies naturally emit an odorless, harmless, and tasteless gas called ethylene, and some produce it in greater quantities than others. When ethylene-producing foods are stored next to ethylene-sensitive foods, the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. This is great if you need to ripen a piece of produce, for example, pair an apple with an unripe avocado. However, if you don’t want to speed up the ripening (or decay) process, store or keep the following fruits and veggies separate.

Produce That Creates Ethylene Gas: Apples, apricots, avocados, ripening bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), figs, grapes, green onions, honeydew, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, pineapple, plums, prunes, tomatoes and watermelon.

Produce That Is Damaged by Ethylene Gas: Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.

Take the Time to Plan Your Meals

  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and create a shopping list
  • Only buy what’s on your shopping list
  • Eat and or cook the produce with the shortest shelf life first
  • If you still can’t manage to eat all of your fruits and veggies, throw them in your compost pile (along with your food prep scraps)

Follow These Food Storage Guidelines

Produce Storage Life Expectancy

Apples

refrigerator (loose, not in bag)

up to 1 month

Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Plums

counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag

2-4 days

Artichokes refrigerator, in a bag 1-2 weeks
Asparagus refrigerator, trim stems, upright in a jar of water 3-4 days

Avocados

counter, store uneaten portion with the pit intact in a bag in the fridge

3-4 days

Bananas

counter

2 days

Berries & Cherries

covered in the fridge. Don’t wash until you use them (too much moisture in the package speeds spoilage).

1-2 days

Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower

refrigerator, bag in the crisper

4-7 days

Carrots

refrigerator, take tops off

2 weeks

Celery

refrigerator, wrapped in aluminum foil

1-2 weeks

Citrus

room temperature of 60-70 degrees

1-2 weeks

Cucumber

refrigerator, bag in the crisper

4-5 days

Eggplant

cool, dry, dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)

3-4 days

Garlic

unpeeled - cool, dry, dark place;

peeled – sealed container in refrigerator or freezer

unpeeled – several months;

peeled – several weeks in refrigerator, months in freezer

Ginger store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then freeze remainder

if refrigerated – 2-3 weeks; if frozen - 2 months

Grapes refrigerator, in a bag 1 week

Green Beans & Peas

refrigerator, in bag or container

3-5 days

Greens (lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage)

refrigerator, bag in the crisper

1-2 weeks

Herbs (fresh)

refrigerator, trim stems, upright in a jar of water

1 week

Kiwis

counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag

3-4 days

Mangoes, Melons

counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag

4 – 7 days

Mushrooms

cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket) in a bag

2-3 days

Onions

cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)

2 months

Pears

counter until ripe, then refrigerate in a bag

3-4 days

Peppers

refrigerator, bag in the crisper

4-5 days

Potatoes

cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)

1-2 weeks

Root vegetables (radishes, beets, turnips)

refrigerator, leave greens on

1-2 weeks

Squash

cool, dry dark place (counter, cupboard, basket)

4-5 days

Tomatoes

counter, uncovered; refrigerate if very ripe

2-3 days

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Image creditmatthannon