How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater. But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You're not alone.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American family of four throws out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy--amounting to $1,365 to $2,275 annually.

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn't be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop. To keep your produce optimally fresh (and cut down on food waste), use this handy guide.

Countertop Storage Tips
There’s nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep those apples crisp and all countertop-stored produce fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag.

Refrigerator Storage Tips
For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.
  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.
What to Store Where: A Handy Chart
Be sure to "Pin" this chart and color-coded key:

*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they're picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Use this to your advantage if you want to speed up the ripening process of an unripe fruit, for example, by putting an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, remember to keep them away from ethylene-producing foods, as designated in the chart above.

Food is expensive, and most people can't afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip. Then you'll be able to follow-through with your good intentions to eat your 5-9 servings a day, instead of letting all of that healthy food go to waste.
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Member Comments

Thanks for the great article! :) Report
thank you Report
The easiest way I've found to keep vegetables and fruit from spoiling is to eat them right away. Report
Great information. Thanks for sharing! Report
... Report
Nice article Report
Thank you for this list! Report
Great information. Report
Very informative. Thank you. Report
Thanks for the info on storing potatoes and onions. Report
I'm loving all the new comments, ideas. This article is terrific and I love the chart! Report
Great article! Report
Grow your own veges and learn how to preserve them. Few people can't come up with the space to grow at least a few Kale plants, even if it has to be grown in a planter.

Most foods can be dehydrated easy enough, and they keep forever in that condition, retaining most of their nutrition. Dehydrators don't cost much and drying food with them is easy.

I dry Kale and pulverize it and run it through a screen, and put a spoonful into my breakfast smoothie (some informal experimenting showed me that a tablespoon is roughly equal to a leaf the size of a dinner plate). I also add in some cayenne powder I made to get my metabolism going.

Dried tomatoes are a really good snack; even people who don't like tomatoes usually like them. And dried tomatoes can be pulverized and screened to make tomato powder; the same thing can be done with various peppers, and they can later be reconstituted to make salsa. Very good and very nutritious. And with no preservatives.

Dried strawberries keep forever and make a nice crunchy snack. Buy them in season when they are plentiful and cheap and then have them all year, without taking up space in your freezer or refrigerator.

Even cucumbers can be dried and turned into powder, to later be mixed with yogurt to make a Tzatziki sauce that's as thick as you want to make it.

These are just a few among many examples of things that can be done very easily. Report
Great information! Thanks. Report


About The Author

Stepfanie Romine
Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

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