How to store fresh fruits and vegetables for better taste

Find out which fruits and veggies stay fresher on the counter, or in the 'frig


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STORE IN REFRIGERATOR
Fruits and melons
apples (less than 7 days)
apricots
Asian pears (nashi)
blackberries
blueberries
cherries
cut fruits
figs
grapes
raspberries
strawberries
Vegetables
artichokes
asparagus
green onions
herbs (except basil)
green beans
leafy vegetables
lima beans
leeks
beets
lettuce
Belgian endive
mushrooms
broccoli
peas
Brussels sprouts
radishes
cabbage
spinach
carrots
sprouts
cauliflower
celery
summer squashes
sweet corn
cut vegetables
RIPEN ON THE COUNTER FIRST
Then store in the refrigerator:
Fruits and melons
kiwifruit
nectarines
peaches
pears
plums
plumcots
Vegetables
avocados
Store at room temperature
apples (less than 7 days)
bananas
grapefruit
jicama
lemons
limes
mandarins
mangoes
muskmelons
oranges
papayas
persimmons
pineapple
plantain
pomegranates
watermelons
basil (in water)
cucumbers
dry onions
eggplant
garlic
ginger
peppers
potatoes
pumpkins
sweet potatoes
tomatoes
winter squashes
OTHER TIPS
Store garlic, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in a well ventilated area in the pantry.
Protect potatoes from light to avoid greening. 
Cucumbers, eggplant and peppers can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days if they are used soon after removal from the refrigerator.

The flavor of fruits and vegetables is influenced not only by maturity and quality at harvest, but by how they are stored afterwards. Know how to store the produce you buy at the market or grow in your garden, and you'll maintain their freshness and taste.

Many fruits and vegetables should be stored only at room temperature because refrigerator temperatures — usually 38° to 42°F — damage them or prevent them from ripening to good flavor and texture. For example, when stored in the refrigerator, bananas develop black skin and do not gain sweetness. Sweet potatoes take on off-flavors and a hard core when cooked after being refrigerated.

Watermelons lose their flavor and deep red color if they are stored for longer than 3 days in the refrigerator. Pink tomatoes ripen to a better taste and red color if they are left at room temperature. They do not turn red in the refrigerator, and even red tomatoes kept in the refrigerator lose their flavor.

Other produce can be ripened on the counter and then stored in the refrigerator. A few fruits and fruit-type vegetables gain sugar or soften when stored at room temperature. For example, Bartlett pears turn yellow and become softer and sweeter on the counter. After they have ripened they can be stored for one to three days in the refrigerator without losing taste.

Countertop storageThe countertop storage area should be away from direct sunlight to prevent produce from becoming too warm. Fruits and vegetables recommended for this type of storage can be kept for a few days. Even so, moisture loss can be reduced by placing produce in a vented plastic bowl or a perforated plastic bag. Do not place produce in sealed plastic bags on the counter because this slows ripening and may increase off-odors and decay due to accumulation of carbon dioxide and depletion of oxygen inside the sealed bag.

Ripening in a bowl or paper bag can be enhanced by placing one ripe apple with every 5 to 7 pieces of fruit to be ripened. Apples produce ethylene that speeds ripening. (Fuji and Granny Smith do not produce much ethylene and do not enhance ripening.)

Refrigerator storage Refrigerated fruits and vegetables should be kept in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawers of the refrigerator. You can either purchase perforated plastic bags or make small holes with a sharp object in unperforated bags (about 20 pin holes per medium-size bag).

Separate fruits from vegetables (use one drawer for each group) to minimize the detrimental effects of ethylene produced by the fruits on the vegetables. Use all refrigerated fruits and vegetables within a few days since longer storage results in loss of freshness and flavor.

Source: Regents of the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources: ucanr.edu


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