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.
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.
- 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. 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.
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.
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.
Fresh produce like eggplant, bell peppers, celery, cauliflower artichokes, peas, cucumber, and zucchini last a week in the crisper. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and squash last 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.
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
Leafy greens, including chard, kale, endive, lettuce, 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.
Rather than using a crisper or plastic bag, clean unwashed greens and spin dry them. Store greens in a non-airtight container with a paper towel. Never allow water to sit on them long.
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.
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. Store fungi in a paper bag rather than plastic, or 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. Use these other guidelines to extend shelf life.
Store Most Refrigerated Produce Unwashed
Leave most refrigerated veggies unwashed. Store them in their original packaging, or loosely wrap them in plastic.
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. Avocados and apricots, for example, ripen faster in a paper bag on the countertop.
Storing with Care
Store food whole, 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.
Place Some Fruits in the Fridge
Cantaloupe, for example, 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.
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. The shelf life of common foods varies. Some vegetables keep for up to between four days and eight weeks in the fridge.
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.