If you buy fresh produce, and carefully store it, it can
be almost as good as fresh-picked. Oranges like to be left
loose in the refrigerator, while grapes prefer paper wrapping.
Onions take to dry storage, while most herbs do their best
in moist environments. Here are some suggestions of how to
store fruit and vegetables so they can offer you optimum flavors
and nutritional value.
When storing food with high moisture content in plastic,
putting a napkin in to absorb excess moisture will help prolong
the food's vitality. To minimize your overall use of plastic,
reuse plastic bags or, if you have a tight vegetable crisper
drawer, you may be able to get away without even using plastic
where plastic wrapping is suggested.
The following recommendations assume you're starting out
with moderately fresh produce. Freshly picked produce can
keep twice as long as the listed storage times - so buy local
Apples: Refrigerate unwrapped for up to 2 weeks. To
ripen, wrap in newspaper and store at 32°-34° F.
Apricots: Refrigerate unwrapped 2 to 5 days. To ripen,
put in a paper bag at room temperature.
Bananas: Store at room temperature until rich yellow
and/or spotted. Refrigerated they turn brown but remain good
up to one week. Freeze whole peeled or mashed bananas and
use within one month.
Cherries: If soft, refrigerate unwrapped up to one
week; if firm, up to 3 weeks.
Citrus: Refrigerate unwrapped for up to two weeks.
Dark and sunken skin does not affect fruit.
Coconut: (whole) Refrigerate up to 2 months. At room
temperature, store up to 2 weeks. (Room temperature dries
out the fresh fruit.)
Cranberries: Refrigerate in paper bag up to two weeks.
Freeze in plastic for several months.
Figs: Fresh: extremely perishable; refrigerate unwrapped
and use within a few days. Dried: store in a cool, dry place.
Grapes: Refrigerate in paper bag up to 2 weeks.
Kiwis: Refrigerate loose
2 to 4 weeks. Keep away from apples and bananas as ethylene
gas drastically quickens ripening process.
Mangoes/Papayas: Refrigerate ripened fruit, un-wrapped,
for up to 2 weeks. To ripen, store at room temperature until
somewhat soft, with slight aroma. Premature cold can shut
off the ripening process.
Melons: (Cantaloupe, Honeydew, etc.) Refrigerate ripened
fruit up to one week. To ripen, store at room temperature
until soft and light colored (cantaloupe) or rougher skinned
Nectarines/Peaches: Refrigerate in a paper bag or
loose 2 to 3 weeks. To ripen, store at room temperature one
to two days.
Pears: Refrigerate unwrapped up to 3 weeks. To ripen,
store at room temperature. Allow to sit at room temperature
a few hours before eating for best flavor.
Pineapples: Refrigerate unwrapped up to 5 days. To
ripen, store at room temperature. It's ripe when center leaves
pull out easily.
Plums/Prunes: Refrigerate in a paper bag for up to
Strawberries: Refrigerate in ventilated container
up to 5 days.
Watermelon: Store whole fruit at room temperature
until ripe. Refrigerate ripened or cut fruit up to one week.
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Artichokes: Refrigerate unwrapped 3 to 4 days. Handle
gently as they bruise easily. Slight brown color is OK.
Asparagus: Refrigerate in plastic, with cut ends in
water, up to 3 days.
Avocados: Refrigerate ripened fruit, unwrapped, 5
to 7 days. To ripen, store at room temperature in a brown
Beans: Refrigerate in plastic up to 4 days.
Beets: Cut off greens and refrigerate the roots in
plastic up to 3 weeks. Refrigerate greens, unwashed, in plastic
up to one week.
Broccoli: Refrigerate in plastic or with crushed ice
up to one week.
Brussels Sprouts: Refrigerate unwashed and in plastic
for up to 3 days.
Cabbage: Refrigerate in plastic up to 2 weeks. If
cut, rub lemon on exposed faces to deter discoloration.
Carrots/Parsnips: Refrigerate in sealed plastic container
up to 2 weeks.
Cauliflower: Refrigerate stem side up, in plastic,
up to 2 weeks.
Celery: Refrigerate in paper up to 3 days.
Corn: Refrigerate in a paper bag up to 3 days.
Cucumbers: Refrigerate in plastic 7 to 10 days. Waxed
cucumbers keep better than unwaxed.
Eggplants: Refrigerate in plastic up to one week.
Very fragile, eggplants bruise easily.
Garlic: Store in cool, dry place up to 5 weeks. When
refrigerating, keep sealed to
protect other foods from its pungent odor.
Greens: (Kale, Collards, Mustard) Refrigerate in plastic
2 to 4 days.
Herbs: (Parsley, Dill, Watercress, Basil etc.) Refrigerate
in an airtight container or in a glass of water with plastic
bag over the herb, or with crushed ice. Basil: Store at 40°
F or above to avoid blackening which occurs when too cold.
Freeze all herbs up to 6 months and then use as if fresh.
To freeze: wash, chop; put in the freezer in plastic or ice
Leeks: Refrigerate in plastic up to one week.
Lettuce: Iceberg: refrigerate in plastic up to 2 weeks.
For other lettuces, refrigerate in a covered container or
in plastic up to one week.
Mushrooms: Refrigerate unwashed in a moisture-tight
container or plastic up to one week. Blanch and freeze up
to 3 months. Fancy mushrooms keep less well. Dried mushrooms
can be reconstituted in hot water.
Okra: Refrigerate in paper for 4 to 5 days. Bruises
easily. When cooked in iron, copper, or brass, the vegetable
turns black, but with no effect on flavor.
Onions: Store unwrapped in a cool, dry place up to
several months; Bermudas and Spanish onions, 1 to 2 months.
Refrigerated in plastic, they keep only 2 to 4 weeks.
Peas: (English and Snap) Refrigerate in plastic up
to 4 days. Do not shell English variety until ready to use.
Peppers: Refrigerate up to one week. Fresh chilies
strung on thread and hung to dry will keep about one year.
Potatoes: Store in cool, dry place away from light
for one month or more.
Radishes: Refrigerate in plastic for up to one week.
Rutabagas/Turnips: Refrigerate in plastic up to one
month. Dice and freeze up to 6 months. Store most kinds in
a cool place for 3 to 6 months.
Scallions: Refrigerate in plastic up to one week.
Squash: Summer: refrigerate unwrapped 4 to 7 days.
Winter: store most kinds in a cool place for three to six
months. Delicota and Table Queen up to one month.
Tomatoes: Refrigerate 1 week or more. To ripen, store
in paper bag at room temperature with stem side down. Enclose
a banana or apple to hasten ripening. Remove from cold one
hour before eating for best flavor.
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