Vegetable & Fruit Storage Tips for Better Taste, Nutrition, and Longer Lifespan
We all want our food to stay fresh as long as possible before we eat it. Unfortunately, it’s important to remember that there isn’t a “one size fits all” option when it comes to fruit & vegetable storage. Our guide for how to store vegetables and fruit will show you what needs to be refrigerated, what doesn’t, and how to maximize the overall lifespan of your produce.
Tips for How to Store Vegetables & Other Produce
Before storing your vegetables, always remove any tight bands to relieve any circulatory constraints and allow the veggie to breathe. Be careful not to stack any soft fruits. Though they may be firm now, as they ripen, that pressure can cause bruising or squishing.
Fridge, Counter, or Pantry?
The three primary ways for how to store vegetables and fruit include the refrigerator, counter, and pantry. Our fruit and vegetable storage tips will go over what should go where, and why.
The refrigerator is a very cold environment with little air flow and no light. The counter offers exceptional airflow and light, but temperatures vary, usually on the warm side. A pantry cabinet is generally the best cool, dry, dark place for vegetables that prefer a happy medium.
Wet or Dry?
Some vegetables dry out quickly, preferring a source of moisture to stay fresh and juicy. This may involve wrapping the veggie in a wet towel or setting it in some water, like a flower. Other vegetables are already moist and juicy, so any additional moisture can lead to mold and rot.
Air or No Air?
Airflow is an important factor in how to store fruits and vegetables properly. Giving them the right amount of air can extend the lifespan of your produce and help you save money.
Vegetables and fruits can also vary wildly on how much airflow they prefer. Some are best stored in an airtight container, while others should be kept in an open container. A few veggies benefit from an open container with a cloth draped over to allow restricted airflow.
Produce Storage Guide
We’ve broken up all of the most popular vegetables and fruits into categories to show you what should go where. Take a look and change up your methods for how to store vegetables and fruits accordingly:
These vegetables require minimum supervision as a dry, warm setting is ideal to their development.
- Citrus [i.e. Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes, etc.]
- Dry dates [i.e. Deglet Noor]
- Pomegranates (up to 1 month)
These vegetables prefer a constant source of moisture, so they can often be kept in water like flowers. If your environment is too hot or dry, consider wet storage in the fridge.
- Asparagus (place loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water for up to a week)
- Basil (difficult: keep cool)
- Celery (in cup or bowl of shallow water)
- Fennel (upright in a cup or bowl of water; more than a few days, store in closed container with light water)
Wondering what fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated? These foods should not be placed in the fridge until after they have fully ripened. Placing them in the refrigerator early will inhibit their flavor and texture, but if you leave them out after ripening, they will soon rot.
- Moist Dates [i.e. Medjool] (in a paper bag; refrigerator after 1 week)
These veggies can be washed immediately after harvest or purchase without concern.
- Artichokes (airtight container; light moisture)
- Beets (cut off tops to prevent loss of moisture and firmness; wash and store in open container with a wet towel on top)
- Brussel Sprouts (leave on stalk or, if loose, store in open container with damp towel on top)
- Carrots (cut off tops, closed container with plenty of moisture; wrap in damp towel or dunk in water every few days)
- Cucumber (wrap in moist towel)
- Green Beans (damp cloth draped over open container)
- Herbs (closed container, up to 1 week)
- Leeks (open container in crisper, wrapped in damp cloth, or in shallow cup of water on counter)
- Parsnips (open container in crisper or wrap in damp cloth)
- Rhubarb (wrap in damp towel, place in open container)
- Rutabagas (closed container in crisper)
- Spinach (loose in open container in crisper)
- Summer Squash
- Turnips (remove greens, store in open container with moist cloth)
- Yellow Squash
These should not be washed until ready for use, and some, like mushrooms, should not be washed at all but rather lightly dusted.
- Berries (airtight container; do not stack, store in paper bag)
- Broccoli (open container or wrap in damp towel)
- Cauliflower (closed container, best eaten early)
- Cherries (airtight container)
- Corn (unhusked in open container, best eaten early)
- Figs (paper bag or plate, do not stack)
- Greens (airtight container w/ light moisture)
- Green Garlic (airtight container)
- Mushrooms (in a paper bag)
- Okra (wrap in dry towel in airtight container; doesn’t store well, eat quickly)
- Radicchio (open container w/ damp cloth on top)
- Radishes (remove greens, place in open container with wet towel on top)
- Snap Peas (open container)
- Shell Beans (open container, eat ASAP)
- Spring Onions (crisper)
- Sweet Peppers (crisper)
These vegetables prefer a cool, dry place for storage, but a refrigerator is far too cold. If you have a cool pantry or cabinet, this is the ideal storage location for the following veggies:
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Green Tomatoes (use quickly before they start to change color)
- Onion (do not stack or store with potatoes)
- Potatoes (box/paper bag; do not store with onions)
- Spaghetti Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Squash