Tips for Storing Fruits and Vegetables

March 27, 2020

The world right now is upside down with COVID-19, so I thought we would change the blog for a few weeks and try to focus on something other than recipes. 

Storytime: I finally made it to the grocery store. I was not too worried about getting there with the toilet paper rush going on. While I was there a lady came up to me in the diary area as I was reaching for yogurt and asked: “What is the deal was with the toilet paper?” That is the million-dollar question! If it is one thing I learned during this pandemic, it’s that in a crisis, toilet paper is a must!  By the time I made it to the frozen foods the frozen veggies were gone. Now, this is a dietitian’s dream! Everyone is finally eating their veggies. With the frozen veggie section being scarce, I only have a few frozen vegetables and I am not a big fan of the canned options. I went back to the fresh produce department even though we all know they go bad quickly. Here are a few things to keep in mind about storing fresh produce to reduce waste and keep them long enough to make it to your plate. 

These fruits and veggies are better stored at room temperature:

  • Peaches
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Nectarines
  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes

These fruits and veggies are better stored in the refrigerator: 

  • Salad greens and herbs (these do good with a bag filled with a little air)
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes) 
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Cabbage

These are best stored in a cool, dark, dry cabinet:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Winter Squash 

Carrots, lettuce, and broccoli start to spoil pretty quickly. They might be best stored in the crisper in your fridge since moisture speeds up the spoiling process.  It might be a good idea to leave them in the bag you purchase them from the grocery store

Avoid washing berries: Wetness increases mold growth. Apples, Figs, Plums, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Apricots are fine when stored in the fridge.

Do you ever notice that sometimes your fruit goes bad faster than other times?  This is most likely the way the food is put together and exposed to ethylene gas. It makes a difference if you put all your fruits in a bowl on the counter or not. Some food produces ethylene gas (a ripening agent) that will speed the ripening/decay of ethylene sensitive foods. They can influence the ripening process and make it decay faster.

This group is gas releasers:      

  • Apricots
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Plums
  • Avocados
  • Bananas, unripe
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

These groups are gas-sensitive:

  • Bananas, ripe
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon

Another thing to keep in mind when trying to prolong the life of produce is to keep the refrigerator at the best temperature. It is recommended by the USDA to set the fridge temperature at 40 degrees F or lower. Anything between 33 and 40 will work well, 32 degrees below your things in the fridge will start to freeze. Try not to store fruits and veggies together, keep them separate if possible, to increase shelf life!  I hope some of these tips helped. Remember we are in this together.