Thanks to our burgeoning vegetable garden and my obsession with our local farmers market, we always have a lot of fresh produce on hand. If you’re like me or have a CSA sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with making sure everything is eaten before it spoils. I used to google ‘how to store X’ in order to find out the best way. At some point, it got really annoying, especially when Sean asked me how to do it. So I decided to make a list of what goes where (counter, pantry, fridge, etc). If you’ve ever wondered how to store produce so it lasts longer, this is the post for you!
Store Produce So It Lasts Longer With These Tips
One of the most important factor when it comes to keeping produce fresher for us has been our new fridge. The drawers for fruit and vegetables are so much better than our old one! Plus, it’s awesome to be able to easily re-arrange the shelves for taller glass containers. So I really recommend starting by assessing your refrigerator and checking the temperature. Ideally, it should be at or below 40° F to preserve your food safely. If you’re a renter with little to no control over your appliance selection, get a cheap thermometer to confirm what the temp is inside! Achieving the ideal environment is the first step in storing produce so it lasts longer.
Store these fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator
- Peppers like bell peppers, jalapeños, poblanos, etc
- Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, all citrus
- Berries like strawberries, blueberries, etc
- Asparagus — Trim a bit off the ends (an inch or so) and store in a glass container with water to keep the ends wet, changing the water often so it stays fresh
- Carrots — Store in a glass container with a lid that’s full of water. Also, remove the green carrot tops.
- Brussels sprouts — Store individual sprouts in a bowl without a lid. Also if the outer leaves look wilted, they are usually still ok to eat if you peel off that part
- Greens, like spinach, lettuce, and kale — Because of my garden, I only cut my greens as needed and then immediately wash in cold water. If you’re not able to do that, The Kitchn suggests washing it, then storing a rolled towel with rubber bands.
- Mushrooms — in a paper bag
- Scallions — Store upright in a tall, thin glass container (I use an old vase someone gave me flowers in once) with an inch or two of water. Be sure to change the water often to avoid the ends getting slimy and smelling bad. Also, keep them in the fridge because otherwise they stink sooooo much. After you’ve got off what you need, put the root end back in the water because it will re-grow!
- Fresh herbs like cilantro — I also usually only cut what I need from my garden, but if I cut too much, I store them in a glass jar with a couple inches of water at the bottom and then try to use them up right away.
- Ginger — when I have a chunk that I started to use, I put it in an air-tight glass jar
- Minced garlic — about once a month, I use my food processor to make large batches of minced garlic. I usually make 4 quart bags at a time and mix in olive oil, then I freeze 3 of the bags. I keep one defrosted at all times and store it in an air-tight glass jar so I always have minced garlic on hand so that it doesn’t have preservatives added.
- Corn — I try to eat corn as quickly as possible, but if I need to wait I store them in a tightly wrapped reusable bag.
Store these fruits and vegetables on the counter
- Avocados (you can quicken the ripening with a paper bag)
- Apples and pears
- Bananas — keep in mind that they speed up the ripening of produce around them!
- Cucumbers — This was the most surprising finding when I was researching how to make produce last longer! I’ve always stored mine in the fridge, but that apparently accelerates the decay. Also, they are sensitive to ethylene, a natural gas that produce like bananas and tomatoes give off, so store your cukes away from them! If you have a cut cucumber, tightly wrap it in a beeswax wrap, then put it in an air-tight glass jar.
Store these fruits and vegetables in the pantry (or other cool, dark, well-ventilated area):
- Onions and shallots — Store away from potatoes and other root vegetables
- Potatoes — Keep in an un-sealed container away from onions
- Garlic bulbs — Use a container that allows for good air-flow like a colander
And a few other rules when it comes to storing produce so it lasts longer:
- Remove packaging whenever possible, like rubber bands, twist ties, etc.
- Don’t over-pack drawers, shelves, and bowls of produce. You want to encourage good air flow!
- Don’t store fruits and vegetables together because some produce givens off gasses that can prematurely ripen and soil other produce.
- Definitely set up a fruit fly trap to avoid any potential infestations!
- Whenever you cut into something and have leftovers, try to use the rest of it as soon as possible to avoid prolonged decay and food waste.
What other food storage practices work for you? Leave a comment and let me know!