Eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet. Fresh produce is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and provides a number of health benefits. If you, like so many others, purchase produce but don't get around to finishing it before it goes bad, continue reading. We'll give you some tips on storing your produce to keep it fresh longer—which saves food and cash.
Storing Your Fruits
Fruit can be stored fresh and ready to eat, or frozen and ready to use in smoothies or recipes. Here are a few ways to store some of your favorite fresh fruits:
- Bananas – Are you constantly setting bananas aside for banana bread because they went bad? Luckily, there's a trick to preventing overripe, mushy bananas. Store your bananas at room temperature until they hit ideal ripeness, then transfer them to the fridge to prolong their life. For extra-long shelf life, buy your bananas slightly under-ripe.
- Apples - Fruit bowls with apples and oranges are visually appealing, but it's not the best way to store your apples if you want to keep them crunchy and tasty. Instead, store them in your fridge’s vegetable drawer. Some people also suggest wrapping each apple in a paper towel or newspaper to keep one bad apple from spoiling the rest.
- Berries - Nowadays, berries aren't cheap. To promote airflow, store your berries in a breathable container lined with a dry paper towel. If you want them to last even longer and kill any mold, give them a quick rinse in a solution of water and vinegar before letting them dry and putting them away. To save space, you can store different kinds of berries in the same container.
- Citrus - Citrus, like oranges and grapefruit, should be preserved in a moist environment. Keep them in your refrigerator’s fruit drawer, either in what they came in or a tightly sealed zip-top bag. You can also store them in a bowl of water if you have fridge space.
- Grapes - Grapes should be kept in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the back of the vegetable crisper). Leave them unwashed in the container they came in, or a reusable mesh bag, and store them away from smelly vegetables like onions to avoid odor absorption.
Storing Your Vegetables & Herbs
You might think it’s common sense to store all your herbs and vegetables in your fridge’s vegetable drawer, but not all veggies are created equal. Here are tips for storing vegetables and herbs to keep them fresh and delicious:
- Greens - Greens should be put in the fridge in a container without a lid. Cover the greens with a wet paper towel or wrap the container in a damp towel. You can also wash and spin your greens, then store them in your fridge in the salad spinner for convenience.
- Herbs - Soft herbs like dill, parsley, cilantro, and mint should be washed and thoroughly dried before storing. Trim the herbs, stick them in a small jar of water covered with a recycled produce bag, and leave in the fridge for up to two weeks. Basil should be stored on the counter, in a covered jar of water. Heartier herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage can be washed, wrapped in damp paper towels, and stowed in a zip-top bag.
- Potatoes, onions, beets, and sweet potatoes - To get the most out of your potatoes, place them in a cool, dark, dry space in your kitchen or pantry in a paper or mesh bag. Beets and sweet potatoes should also be stored this way. Store onions in a cool, dark place, either in your pantry or fridge.
- Squash - Similar to potatoes, squash should be stored in a dry, dark, and cool place. If you’re meal prepping, you can cube squash and keep it uncooked in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
- Peppers - Peppers, sweet or spicy, can be stored on your countertop. Leave them unwashed in a container in a cool spot and cover them with a cloth.
- Green beans - These should be stored in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper. Wash them and place them in a sealed zip bag. Don't trim green beans until you're ready to use them.
As a general rule, produce should not be washed until it's ready to be used—aside from the exceptions noted above. Keeping your fruits and veggies properly stored and unwashed will prolong their life and save you money on your grocery bill!
The Food Re-Cycle
Food waste not only accounts for a considerable portion of daily waste in the United States, but it’s also likely one of the biggest sources of garbage in your household. If you’re looking for ways to reduce personal food waste and get the most from your food, read our article, “The Food Re-Cycle: Tips for Reducing Food Waste in Your Kitchen.”