How to Store Fruits And Vegetables

Ever found yourself tossing out fruits and veggies because they ripen and spoil faster than you can enjoy them? (We’re guilty too!) The secret lies in storing them correctly. Some fruits and veggies release a natural gas called ethylene, which speeds up ripening. While this can be handy for quickly ripening an avocado in a paper bag, too much ethylene can lead to spoilage. It’s not just about ethylene, though; factors like temperature, washing habits, and storage methods also play a role. Check out our user-friendly chart and keep reading to master the art of fruit and vegetable storage.

Keep These Fruits and Veggies at Room Temperature

  • Bananas
  • Basil
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash
  • Zucchini

Start on the Counter, Then Refrigerate When Ripe

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums

Store These in the Fridge

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Cilantro
  • Corn (whole ears in the husk)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Grapes
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Should You Mix or Separate Your Produce?

When deciding where to stash your fruits and veggies, it’s not just a fridge-or-no-fridge debate – there’s more to it. Some fruits and veggies insist on being kept apart, regardless of their fridge status. Enter ethylene gas, a natural emission from certain fruits that can accelerate the ripening of some produce, while others remain unfazed. It can be a useful trick, though. Speed up avocado ripening by placing it in a paper bag next to a ripe banana, letting the banana’s ethylene work its magic.

But beware of fast-forwarding the ripening process too much; your fresh produce might turn into mush before you get to enjoy it. A simple rule: keep high-ethylene gas-emitters like apples, avocados, stone fruits, pears, bananas, and tomatoes away from other fruits and veggies. Delicate leafy greens are particularly sensitive to ethylene.

And let’s talk onions – they’re loners. Onions are generous with their aroma (especially when cut), so store them separately, especially far from potatoes. Onions’ presence can make potatoes wilt and sprout faster.

Handling Cut Fruits and Veggies

Sliced fruits and veggies are convenient for snacking and saving fridge space. Most sliced fruits last about five days (some veggies a bit longer) if you follow a couple of rules: store them in an airtight container and always refrigerate.

Avoid pre-slicing fruits like apples, pears, bananas, and avocados, as they tend to brown quickly. Instead, keep these ripe fruits (except bananas) whole in the crisper drawer. The crisper helps control moisture, extending the life of your produce.

When and How to Wash Your Produce

Ensuring your fruits and veggies are clean before consumption is a wise move, even if you plan to peel them. Harmful bacteria causing foodborne illnesses can cling to the surface, posing a risk.

Even if you’re not munching on the skin, the bacteria might contaminate your cutting board and make their way into the edible part. Though the risk is low, it’s better to play it safe.

Plus, who wants to bite into dirt? Most fruits and veggies can be swiftly rinsed under cold running water, but some need a bit more care to stay intact:

Leafy Greens

For leafy greens, separate the leaves, soak them in cold water for about 5 minutes, gently swirl to remove debris, then transfer to a salad spinner to dry. A good spinner is a wise investment – storing wet leaves can quickly turn your greens into a soggy mess.


Berries are delicate and dislike excess moisture. Rinse them in a strainer, then spread on a paper towel-lined plate to dry before refrigerating. A microwave steamer or any breathable-rack container works well for storing them, preventing them from sitting in water.


Wash herbs like salad greens in cool water, spin them dry, and store them in the fridge with a slightly damp paper towel (not soaking wet). For a creative twist, treat them like a little bouquet in a jar of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag. Asparagus and basil can also benefit from this trick – just keep your basil bouquet on the counter.

When to Wash

If you’re a cleaning maestro and can ensure thorough drying, washing your produce right after getting it home is ideal, but that’s not always practical. The best time is just before you plan to use it.

If you’re prepping for a gathering and want to avoid last-minute washing, it’s okay to do it ahead of time. Just remember, excess moisture is the enemy of fresh produce – ensure everything is dry before storing.

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