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How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in the Refrigerator

Author:

Marissa is the writer of "ThePracticalMommy" and owner of Mommy Knows What's Best. She's a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom to four.

How to Store Fresh Produce

Want to keep your fresh fruits and vegetables longer? Read for great tips!

Want to keep your fresh fruits and vegetables longer? Read for great tips!

How to Store Fruits and Vegetables in the Fridge

One of the challenges of eating a healthy diet is storing fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh produce tends to lose nutrients and flavor, plus grow old or rot quickly if it is not stored properly in the fridge.

Here you will find how you can preserve fresh fruit and vegetables for the longest time possible without having to let it go to waste.

Refrigerator Storage

Refrigerators are designed for separate food storage. There are shelves and drawers, some designated for certain kinds of foods (i.e. a deli drawer).

The drawers made for fruits and vegetables are called the crisper drawers or humidity controlled drawers. They are usually larger than other fridge drawers to allow space and humid air around fruits and vegetables. There are controls for the humidity, allowing you to adjust according to what you keep in each drawer.

The drawer for vegetables should be kept at a higher humidity since vegetables dry out very quickly (ever leave a baby carrot out too long?). The drawer for fruits should be kept at a lower humidity.

For tips about how to use your refrigerator's crisper drawers, refer to your refrigerator's user manual. Many of these can be found online if you have misplaced your copy.

Tip: Be careful where you place meat in the refrigerator. You don't want any juices spilling onto your fruits or veggies and spoiling them!

Fruits in Season

Keep in mind: some fruits are in season across multiple months. Adapted from:http://www.bcbsga.com/timewellspent/docs/healthy_eating/savor_the_season.pdf

Spring (April-June)Summer (July-September)Fall (October-December)Winter (January-March)

cranberries

grapes

apples

apples

cantaloupes

kiwi

oranges

grapefruit

cherries

nectarines

tangerines

oranges

pears

watermelon

grapes

pears

grapefruit

peaches

mangoes

mangoes

apricots

raspberries

pears

cranberries

honeydew

pineapples

grapefuit

tangerines

strawberries

coconuts

honeydew

honeydew

Buying Fresh Produce

Fresh bananas and apples that came from a supermarket.

Fresh bananas and apples that came from a supermarket.

How to Freeze Vegetables and Fruits

Buying Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables can certainly be found in a supermarket. If you want truly fresh vegetables and fruits, try a farmer's market. You can also visit farms where they allow you to pick your own fruits and vegetables. Other options becoming increasingly popular are food co-operatives and food buying clubs where members buy large amounts of fresh produce and share it while saving money.

No matter how you buy it, keep a few things in mind:

  • To save money, buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.
  • Buy only the fresh fruits and vegetables you intend to use for one or two weeks at a time. Buying too much can result in waste if the produce is not stored properly or not used.
  • Make sure you have enough storage for what you intend to buy.
  • Organic means that the produce has been grown without modern day pesticides or other chemicals. Natural means there have been very, very little chemical use. Both can be more expensive than regularly grown produce, but definitely worth it if you don't want to expose your family to harmful chemicals.
  • You can buy frozen fresh fruits and veggies, many of which are flash frozen to protect vital nutrients and flavor, or you can freeze them yourself (see link to the right).

Storing Fresh Fruits

Which of these fruits can be kept in a cool dry place instead of the fridge? Find out!

Which of these fruits can be kept in a cool dry place instead of the fridge? Find out!

Fruits That Should Not Be Stored in the Fridge

Bananas: Store in a cool, dry place. Why not the fridge? Since they're a tropical fruit, they prefer a warmer climate than the fridge environment provides. The cold temperatures in the fridge can actually cause a freezer burn effect on the bananas.

Lemons and limes: Store in a cool, dry place. Why not the fridge? They absorb odors and may be unpleasant.

How to Store Fruit

Fruit needs to ripen before it is at its best flavor. When they do ripen, however, they tend to go bad quickly.

Here are some tips of how to store fruit in the fridge:

  • Place fruit in its own crisper drawer in the refrigerator and keep the drawer at a low humidity.
  • Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can be kept in the refrigerator and washed gently before eaten. Berries such as these tend to go bad quickly, so eat as soon as possible.
  • Fruits like peaches, pears, and plums can be ripened at room temperature and then refrigerated. To ripen, place fruits in a paper bag and store in a cool, dry place. If the skin feels too mushy, then the fruits have become overripe.
  • Apples can be stored in the fridge, but be careful with what you store them. Due to the gas ethylene that apples give off, other fruits and vegetables tend to get bitter. The best place to store apples would be on a high refrigerator shelf, away from other produce. They can also be kept in a cool and dark location.
  • Lemons and limes absorb the odors from the fridge, so it's best to keep them at room temperature.
  • Melon stored in the fridge can develop a rubber texture and lose flavor, so eat these quickly if using the fridge for storage.
  • Grapes fare well in the fridge. Check the skin; if it's mushy, the grapes will not last long. Also check for mold growing inside of each cluster. Choose firm grapes and place them in a plastic zipper bag, washing only before use.
  • If you are going to cut up fruit to use, seal it in an airtight container and place on a shelf. Eat quickly as the fruit may go bad. Fruit that has been cut up has surface area that is exposed to more oxygen, making the process faster for it to rot.
  • If you cut up fruit such as apples, which tend to go brown when exposed to oxygen, toss the apple slices in a bowl with a little bit of lemon juice. The lemon juice helps to stop the oxidation process, which causes apples to turn brown.

Fruit Storage

Vegetables in Season

Some veggies are in season across multiple months. Adapted from :http://www.bcbsga.com/timewellspent/docs/healthy_eating/savor_the_season.pdf

Spring (April-June)Summer (July-September)Fall (October-December)Winter (January-March)

asparagus

summer squash

broccoli

artichoke

broccoli

eggplant

winter squash

asparagus

mushrooms

cauliflower

mushrooms

spinach

green beans

sweet potatoes

turnips

broccoli

radishes

turnips

cauliflower

mushrooms

tomatoes

corn

green beans

turnips

cucumbers

okra

sweet potatoes

 

Carrots should be kept in a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. If you buy them pre-bagged, make sure to take note of the 'best if used by' date on the bag!

Carrots should be kept in a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. If you buy them pre-bagged, make sure to take note of the 'best if used by' date on the bag!

Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature.
    • Yes
    • No
  2. Root vegetables, like potatoes, do best in warm, moist environments.
    • Yes
    • No
  3. It is recommended to cut up fruits and veggies before putting them in the fridge.
    • Yes
    • No
  4. Crisper drawers keep humidity out and dry air in.
    • Yes
    • No
  5. Apples in the fridge can make other fruits and veggies have a bitter taste.
    • Yes
    • No
  6. Bananas should be kept at room temperature since they do poorly in cool temperatures.
    • Yes
    • No
  7. The temperature of the fridge should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to help prevent mold from growing.
    • Yes
    • No
  8. Meat should be stored near fruits and vegetables.
    • Yes
    • No
  9. Greens should be dried before placed in the fridge.
    • Yes
    • No

Scoring

Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature.
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points
  2. Root vegetables, like potatoes, do best in warm, moist environments.
    • Yes: +0 points
    • No: +5 points
  3. It is recommended to cut up fruits and veggies before putting them in the fridge.
    • Yes: +0 points
    • No: +5 points
  4. Crisper drawers keep humidity out and dry air in.
    • Yes: +0 points
    • No: +5 points
  5. Apples in the fridge can make other fruits and veggies have a bitter taste.
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points
  6. Bananas should be kept at room temperature since they do poorly in cool temperatures.
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points
  7. The temperature of the fridge should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to help prevent mold from growing.
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points
  8. Meat should be stored near fruits and vegetables.
    • Yes: +0 points
    • No: +5 points
  9. Greens should be dried before placed in the fridge.
    • Yes: +5 points
    • No: +0 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between 0 and 13 means: Ew! You probably have a lot of rotten fruits and veggies right now.

A score between 14 and 27 means: Is that mold I see? You might want to clean your fridge.

A score between 28 and 36 means: Fruit and veggies only last a few days in your house, right?

A score between 37 and 40 means: You are well on your way to becoming a food storage master!

A score between 41 and 45 means: You are the food storage master! Enjoy those fruits and veggies!

How to Store Vegetables

Like fruits, if fresh vegetables are not stored properly in the fridge, they can lose nutrients and go bad before you get a chance to use them. Except for lettuce or other greens, vegetables can be kept in whole form and washed before use.

Here are some other tips about storing veggies in the fridge:

  • Lettuce (and other greens) can be bought pre-washed with a chemical to prevent it from spoiling or you can buy it and wash it yourself. If you wash it yourself, break the leaves off, clean them in cold water, pat them dry, and place them in a zipper bag with some paper towels (which keep the moisture in). Lettuce tends to spoil quickly so it's best to only buy what you need and eat it within a few days.
  • Carrots should be stored within a plastic bag in the fridge to keep them moist. If the bag is left open, they will dry out very quickly.
  • Peppers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. Wash before use.
  • Eggplant should be kept in the fridge used within a few days. Zucchini and squash can spoil quickly as well, so it's best to do the same with them.
  • Celery will stay crisp in the fridge for a few days, up to a week. Some people claim that wrapping it in aluminum foil will make it last even longer.
  • Potatoes shouldn't be kept in the fridge. They will do well in a cool, dry place, as will other root vegetables.
  • Tomatoes can be kept out of the fridge, but if you store them in a fridge use as soon as possible. Storing them too long in the fridge can cause their skin to become tougher and cause them to lose flavor.
  • Corn can be kept in the fridge but should be used as soon as possible as it may lose its flavor. If it is in the husk, leave it that way until you use it. If it has been cleaned, make sure it is dry and place it in a plastic bag.
  • Mushrooms should be kept dry and cool, and washed only before use. They will go bad quickly if they are pre-sliced and exposed to air, so use as soon as possible.
  • Asparagus can be kept in the fridge with a moist paper towel kept around the stems.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower, if kept as whole heads, will last for 7-10 days in the fridge.
  • Green beans, if kept in whole form, can be kept in the fridge unwashed for a week or more.

Recipes Using Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Now that you have your fresh fruits and vegetables properly stored, what are you going to do? Eat 'em! Find some great recipes here on Delishably for how to use your fresh produce, like a recipe using sweet potatoes or a recipe for grilling fresh fruits.

Enjoy!

How to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Sources

Here are my sources:

Questions & Answers

Question: How should I store ginger?

Answer: If it is fresh, you can store ginger in a plastic bag with the air taken out in the crisper drawer.

© 2012 Marissa

Comments

Jo-Ann Brightman on July 08, 2014:

These are such great tips . I wondered what I was doing wrong - too much humidity for the fruits and not enough for the veggies. Thanks

jenn huey on July 02, 2014:

This has been a very helpful article. I had no idea how to use the crispers and apparently had it backwards. Hopefully I will notice a change now that I know the veggies get the higher humidiity

Emily on June 30, 2014:

Thanks for this info! I hate when I buy fresh produce and it goes bad in the fridge.

Sweta Sonulkar on March 31, 2014:

So useful tips

Marissa (author) from United States on January 31, 2014:

fotojennic, oh the horror! A citrus in the crisper drawer! Lol!

fotojennic on January 31, 2014:

I just had to come back and let you know I still have an orange in the crisper drawer. and its been there since september. I'm so bad I still haven't removed the citrus :( lol

melissa cushing on January 31, 2014:

Thanks for sharing! This is an awesome post and very informational for those of us who are trying to live a much healthier lifestyle! Thanks again and I will use these tips for sure!

FotoJennic on January 18, 2014:

So much helpful information in this post!! I didn't know about lemons and limes absorbing odors in the 'fridge. Im loving the charts for seasonal fruits n veggies too. thanks!

Marcia Lee on January 05, 2014:

What an extensive post on storing fruits and vegetables; I learned so much. I didn't know that apples should be kept away from other fruits. Thank you for the information you shared.

Carolsue on December 27, 2013:

This is all very interesting, useful information. I am going to bookmark it for future reference.

Elizabeth Fitzmaurice on October 21, 2013:

This article is SO helpful. I'm always Googling when I bring something home from the store that I'm unsure about. This post gives me lots of new info. Thanks.

Marissa (author) from United States on October 10, 2013:

Pam, I'm glad I could help! Thanks for reading! :)

Pam Gurganus on October 09, 2013:

This has been some awesome reading and I'm so grateful! My husband and I often disagree about what foods should be stored where and when! Thanks for this clarification. It's been very informative and helpful! :)

Mohammed irshad alam on August 29, 2013:

I m very satisfied from your tips.

Marissa (author) from United States on March 21, 2013:

subrahmanyamkvs, thanks for the suggestion, but this article is generally geared toward vegetables found in the U.S. and areas with the same kind of foods. I wouldn't be an expert on vegetables from India, but perhaps someone else here could write a similar article. Thanks for stopping by!

subrahmanyamkvs on March 21, 2013:

it is not clear that how to store many indian vegetables for logitivity wether with fully wraped or open in the fridge , kindly try to give in tabler form to understand and follow

Marissa (author) from United States on February 19, 2013:

Thelma Alberts, thanks for reading, commenting, and voting up!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on February 19, 2013:

Thank you very much for this very informative hub. I´ve learned a lot from this. Voted up and more.

Marissa (author) from United States on February 05, 2013:

Andrea, that is very true about berries: they should only be washed right before eating. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Andrea on February 05, 2013:

If you want your berries to last a week or two then do not wash and store..they don't last long at all. Only wash what you plan to eat prior to eating! If you see one going bad remove it immediately or a the whole area around it will too.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 07, 2012:

easylearningweb, I'm glad you found this helpful! Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on November 07, 2012:

What a helpful hub, thanks! I keep some fruits like apples, bananas and oranges out on the counter, and then fruits like strawberries and grapes in the refrigerator. For vegetables, I keep them all in the fridge, including baked potatoes...I buy the microwaveable kind that are wrapped in plastic. I'll keep in mind that I can keep the potatoes out of fridge.

Thanks again.

Marissa (author) from United States on July 14, 2012:

Mitch Alan, thank you very much! :)

Mitch Alan from South Jersey on July 13, 2012:

Interesting & Useful...always a pleasure.

Marissa (author) from United States on June 07, 2012:

teaches12345, thanks so much for reading and commenting! :D

Dianna Mendez on June 06, 2012:

I didn't know that about apples. I will have to store them away from other food items. Great hub and filled with information useful in keeping food fresh longer.

Marissa (author) from United States on June 06, 2012:

kellyward, thanks so much for reading and commenting! I'm glad you think it's helpful. :)

kelleyward on June 06, 2012:

Very helpful ThePracticalMommy, especially the charts! Thanks! Kelley

Marissa (author) from United States on June 06, 2012:

chrissieklinger, thank you! I'm glad you like the charts. :)

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on June 06, 2012:

very useful hub...I really like the charts!

Marissa (author) from United States on June 06, 2012:

brenda12lynette, I didn't know either until I had a conversation with my brother-in-law, who was scouring the contents of my fridge one day. :D That conversation led to my research and this hub!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

brenda12lynette from Utah on June 06, 2012:

Thanks for the information. I knew that I shouldn't store all my fruits and veggies in the fridge, but I never knew which ones. Useful hub!

Marissa (author) from United States on June 06, 2012:

GoodLady, glad you got some tips! Thanks for reading! :)

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on June 05, 2012:

How completely interesting! Thanks so much. Got lots and lots of tips from your great looking Hub.