Bought a few extra apples at the grocery store? Wondering how to keep that pumpkin from molding? Learn the basics to keeping fruits and veggies fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
Keep It Cool & Dark
Before a fridge was a common fixture, people stored fruits and veggies in root cellars. These were cool, dark areas – similar to the modern day basement. While storing produce in your basement may work in a pinch, your fridge is your best bet for keeping food fresh for a long time.
Use the crisper drawer in your fridge for best results and keep the temp between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping produce in plastic bags also helps extend the shelf life. Handle the fruits and vegetables carefully as you put them away for storage. They will deteriorate rapidly if damaged or bruised. One spoiled piece of produce also quickly spoils the others.
Most fruits and vegetables prefer a little humidity to keep them fresh. Lightly spray them with water if needed to help maintain freshness, just like the produce aisle of your local grocery store. A few exceptions to the rule: ginger, onions, chili peppers, pumpkins, and winter squash prefer to stay dry.
Most produce does well when stored between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule as well. Tomatoes and watermelon stay fresher when stored at temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees. And never make the mistake of putting your bananas in the refrigerator, unless you like them black.
How Long Can You Store Fruits and Vegetables?
The length of time you can store fruits and vegetables varies greatly depending on the type of produce. Here are some typical types of produce most of us have and their storage life:
- Lettuce: 7 to 10 days
- Broccoli: 10 to 14 days
- Cherries: 10 to 14 days
- Celery: 2 to 3 months
- Pumpkins: 2 to 3 months
- Pears: 2 to 7 months
- Apples: 1 to 2 months
Canning, freezing or dehydrating extend the life of your produce even more. These methods work well if you have a home garden with lots of fresh produce to manage – and they let you keep the produce on hand all winter.
Now that you know the basics, you'll be able to make your produce last longer and save yourself some money. Say goodbye to limp lettuce and brown bananas forever, and never waste fruits and vegetables again!