How to Keep Fruits & Vegetables Fresh

Overview

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy eating plan. They're low fat, low calorie and low sodium while packing serious nutritional punch. Still, the longer fruits and vegetables age, the more nutrients they lose. It's important to store fruits and vegetables correctly, not only to maintain nutrients but also for safety and for money savings. Improperly stored produce rots faster than properly store produce, which both wastes money and harbors bacteria in your refrigerator.

Step 1

Separate your fruits and vegetables when you get home from the grocery store. Leave them in their produce bags.

Step 2

Place your apples, bananas, cucumbers, oranges and tomatoes on your counter top. These are all high ethylene gas producers. Ethylene gas causes produce to ripen faster, shortening its shelf life. These foods need the open air to remain fresher longer. Avoid placing them in the refrigerator because not only will they spoil faster, but they will cause your other foods to spoil faster, too.

Step 3

Place any avocados, peaches, pears, plums and nectarines in a bowl (separate of the foods from Step 2) to ripen on your counter top. Move them to the refrigerator when they're ripe. They produce more ethylene gas as they ripen and less once ripe.

Step 4

Separate your remaining fruits and vegetables into two piles, with fruits on one side and vegetables on the other. It's important to store these foods separately because more vegetables than fruits produce ethylene gas.

Step 5

Transfer all pre-cut produce to airtight containers and place them in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Poke holes in the whole produce's bags to allow gasses to escape.

Step 6

Place vegetables in one produce drawer and fruits in another. Refrigerate at 40 degrees or lower, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This temperature both preserves your produce, but also inhibits bacteria and fungus growth.

References

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Produce Safety
  • University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension: Food Reflections
  • University of Missouri Extension: How to Keep Fruits and Vegetables Safe
Keywords: store fruits vegetables, keep produce fresh, make produce last

About this Author

Lillian Downey has a diverse background, including studies in English, social work, women's studies, nonprofit management, political science and nursing. She's worked as an intern sex-educator, clinic manager and mental health professional. She is currently studying to be a birth doula and childbirth educator. She served as editor-in-chief of "Nexus Journal of Literature and Art" and an assistant fiction editor at the "Antioch Review."