Learning how to grow your own produce is a fantastic way to eat healthier, save some money, and create a more sustainable lifestyle. If you’ve recently started your own zero waste garden, the next step is to learn how to store fruits and vegetables. Luckily, we’re sharing the best way to store fruit and veggies from your garden so you can make sure that not a single strawberry or carrot goes to waste!
If you aren’t plucking fresh produce from your own garden, don’t worry—the same tips still apply for any store-bought items as well.
The Best Way to Store Fruit and Vegetables
The best way to store fruit and vegetables varies depending on the type of produce. Believe it or not, different kinds of fruits and veggies all require different conditions to last as long as possible. Some need to be kept cold, others are best kept at room temperature, and some need a little bit of both.
To help you determine where to store what, we’ve created a quick storage guide for some of the most common fruits and veggies.
The following list of food should be stored in the refrigerator the moment you pick it from your garden or grab it from your local supermarket.
- Ears of corn
- Lettuce, cabbage, and dark leafy greens
- Pretty much all the herbs, save for basil
The following list of fruits and vegetables will last the longest if you keep them at room temperature. These foods are for the kitchen counter, fruit bowl, and that charming repurposed cupcake tier that you use to display the impressive goods from your garden.
- Lemons and limes
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Green beans
A Little Bit of Both
There are a few different types of fruits and vegetables that are a bit more sensitive than others when it comes to their climate. The list of produce below is comprised of types of produce that should be kept at room-temperature until they’re ripe, and then moved to the fridge to suspend the ripening period and prevent decay.
As a rule of thumb, any fruit or vegetable that has a tendency to get mushy quickly should be stored using room temperatures and cool temperatures. For some of these, ripening can happen very quickly, so keep an eye on them so as to not miss the point where they should be moved to the refrigerator.
- Apricots, peaches, and nectarines
- Plums and pears
- Papayas and mangos
Quick Tips for Produce Storage
We’ve covered which types of produce you should keep in the fridge vs. those that do better at room temperature, but there are a few extra things you can do to greatly extend the life of your fresh food even more. Use these quick tips on how to store fruits and vegetables to reduce your food waste and make the most of every root and berry.
- Whether in the fridge or on the counter, make sure you store produce separately. Certain foods emit enough ethylene gas to speed up the decay of different types of produce, such as dark leafy greens.
- To preserve lettuce, salad mix, and other leafy greens, place a damp paper towel in the plastic wrapping.
- Keep your stinky produce (garlic, onions, etc.) confined to their own storage space. These strong odors can and will be absorbed by nearby produce and nobody wants a garlic-infused peach.
- For optimal storage time, store foods whole. Sliced up produce makes for a convenient snack, but it drastically reduces the time fruits and veggies will stay good.
- If you must store sliced or prepared produce for a quick and easy snack, use airtight containers and store in the refrigerator.
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