With each trip to the grocery store comes a load of fresh fruits and veggies! There is nothing better than having produce on hand, but it is incredibly disappointing when you discover your grocery haul has passed its prime. Properly storing your foods will help preserve nutrition and extend shelf-life. Looking for a little guidance? Read on for food storage tips!

Where to Store: 

You’ve got your groceries home — now what? Learn where to keep your foods for lasting freshness! 

In the Pantry / On the Counter

Prior to use, store the following foods at room temperature until you are ready to eat. Most produce prefers to be kept in a cool, dark place when possible for extended life. Keep in mind that once you cut into produce you will likely need to move leftovers in the fridge. 

  • Bananas: Leave bananas in a bunch exposed to air. Hanging bananas on a “banana tree” will help eliminate bruises and preserve the fruit. 
  • Basil: Trim the stems of fresh basil and place the herbs in water like a bunch of flowers. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave on the counter. Change the water every few days. 
  • Coconut: A whole coconut can be stored in a cool, dark place for many weeks or even months (depending on age).
  • Cucumber: Cucumbers are sensitive to temperatures below 50° F and can experience water soaked areas and accelerated decay if left in the refrigerator. Leave at room temperature with access to air. If they were stored in the refrigerated section at the store… you may want to keep them in the fridge and eat within a few days. Try to keep them in a less cool section of the fridge — like the door.
  • Eggplant: Similar to cucumbers, eggplants will degrade in the fridge. Too cool temperatures compromise both texture and flavor. Eggplants also don’t like to be too warm. Store eggplants in a cool pantry out of the sun. Do not leave eggplants in a bag as they will last longer exposed.
  • Garlic: Garlic thrives in dark, dry places. Place full heads in the pantry and make sure there is air circulation.
  • Onions/Shallots: Like garlic, onions do best in dark, dry places. Make sure you allow ventilation as leaving onions in a plastic bag may cause them to rot faster. 
  • Pineapple: Leave whole pineapples on the counter until you are ready to cut and eat them. They will continue to ripen as they sit, so if you don’t plan to enjoy them right away you may want to think about cutting and moving to the fridge after a few days. 
  • Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes: Potatoes need to breathe which is why they often come in mesh bags. Leaving potatoes in plastic or closed containers will increase moisture and cause them to spoil. Store potatoes and sweet potatoes in a dark, dry place for best results. Keep away from other produce as potatoes emit a gas that may deteriorate other foods.
  • Squash: Squash with a hard exterior including pumpkin, butternut, winter, acorn, spaghetti, delicata, hubbard, and banana squashes should be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Many squashes can last for a month or longer if properly treated. Squash with soft skin – such as zucchini and yellow squash — require different storage technique. See below “In the Fridge”.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes do best at around 55° F. It is recommended to store tomatoes in a single layer with the stem side down to prevent moisture loss from the fruit. Put tomatoes on the counter or pantry, out of the sun for best results. You can move tomatoes to the fridge to halt the ripening process and prevent rot, but it will alter flavor. If refrigerated, make sure you let your tomatoes warm to room temperature prior to serving for best results. 
  • Watermelon: Keep a whole watermelon in a dark, cool place for lasting freshness. Leaving your melon in the pantry versus the fridge will help retain nutritional value and flavor. If you are worried about a watermelon spoiling before use, you can move to the fridge. Just make sure to bring to room temperature before cutting to restore flavors. 

On the Counter Until Ripe

The following items can be left whole on the counter until ripe. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place produce in a paper bag. Once they are ready to eat, move to the fridge to slow ripening until you are ready to enjoy. 

  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Mango
  • Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, winter melon)
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Plantains
  • Plums

In the Fridge

A number of foods will keep best chilled in the fridge. Pop these items in the refrigerator when you get home to preserve quality. Do not wash first unless otherwise noted as moisture can cause produce to rot faster. 

  • Apples: Place apples in the crisper door. If possible, do not stack apples as they will last longer when separated. Touching may cause soft spots that lead to rotting. If you have a large number of apples, you can store them in a cool, dry place out of the fridge — such as a basement. 
  • Artichoke: To keep artichokes fresher longer, put them in the fridge with the stems damp. Simply slice a sliver from each artichoke stem and sprinkle with water. Don’t use too much water or it may cause molding. Wrap the artichoke loosely in plastic to preserve water.
  • Asparagus: Leave asparagus spears bundled together and trim off the bottom ends. Place in a jar with 1–2 inches of water, letting the asparagi stand with the trimmed ends down. Cover loosely with a plastic bag to prevent odors and crumbs.
  • Beets: To keep beets crisp, first remove the greens leaving 2 inches of stem. Don’t toss them though! The greens are edible and super healthy. Once removed, make sure your beets are dry and wrap them tightly in a plastic bag. Leaving air out of the bag will extend the life of your beets. 
  • Berries: Soft berries (like raspberries) should be kept dry and stored in the container in which you bought them until ready to consume for best results. Firmer berries can be rinsed in a water/vinegar solution to treat mold, dried, and then placed in a container on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture — think strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries. Make sure there is ventilation so the berries have room to breathe. 
  • Broccoli: Broccoli can be kept edible by storing it like a bouquet of flowers in your fridge. Simply fill a jar about half full with water and place the broccoli stalk inside. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and change the water daily.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Remove any yellow or wilted leaves and place unwashed, untrimmed Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag or closed container in the fridge. Try to remove as much air as possible from the bag for lasting freshness. 
  • Cabbage: Cabbage does best wrapped tightly in plastic wrap as it helps to retain water. 
  • Carrots: To keep carrots longer, first remove the greens as they will suck water from the roots and leave carrots dry. Store the greens separately as you can use them in salads, sandwiches, soups, or a delicious pesto. For crisp carrots, make sure they stay hydrated. Try placing carrots in a container covered with water. Change the water every few days or when it looks cloudy.
  • Cauliflower: Cauliflower is easy to keep. Simply place it in a loose plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Often cauliflower comes tightly wrapped in cellophane. You will want to move it to a looser plastic bag to release moisture. Try tucking a paper towel in the bag to absorb excess water and prevent premature rotting.
  • Celery: The trick to having crisp celery is hydration. Try wrapping whole stalks of celery tightly in aluminum foil to retain water in and let ripening gases out. Plastic does not work well for this. Once cut, you can place individual stalks in a jar of water.
  • Cherries: Cherries degrade quickly at room temperature, so get them in the fridge ASAP. Place them in a loose plastic bag and if possible, layer paper towels between to absorb excess moisture. Do not rinse before storing.
  • Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, clementine): Citrus does well in a mesh bag in the fridge. Do not leave in a closed container or plastic bag. Let your citrus come to room temperature before enjoying — it will be juicier and tastier this way.
  • Corn: Cut off the shank (knobby end) of the corn and leave it in the husk. This will help to keep your corn hydrated. Wrap in a plastic bag and place in the fridge.
  • Dates: Dates can be stored at room temperature, but will last way longer in the fridge. Store in an airtight container.
  • Fennel: Separate the stalks from the bulb and place both separately in plastic bags. Place in the fridge, but don’t let it get too cold as fennel freezes easily. 
  • Figs: Place figs in a bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap to prevent the fruit from absorbing scents from the fridge. 
  • Ginger: Store whole, unpeeled ginger in a sealed plastic bag with as much air as possible removed. Make sure it is dry first.
  • Grapes: Grapes do best cold. Do not wash grapes before refrigerating. Leave them in a ventilated plastic bag — typically the packaging they are purchased in works great!
  • Green Beans: Place green beans in a plastic bag with a loose paper towel to absorb excess moisture and prevent molding. Keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. 
  • Green Onions: Add green onions to a small mason jar or something similar with an inch or two of water. Cover the exposed tops loosely with a plastic bag.
  • Herbs – Soft (cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, tarragon): Wash your herbs before storing them to remove debris and prevent decay. Then pat dry. For soft herbs you can trim the stems and treat them like a bouquet of flowers in the fridge. Place herbs in a jar (stem side down) with a few inches of water and cover loosely with a plastic bag. Change the water in the jar every few days to increase longevity. Basil should be left at room temperature — see above.
  • Herbs – Hard (rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, oregano): As with soft herbs, you will want to rinse hard herbs well. Instead of sticking them in a jar with water, roll these herbs in a damp paper towel. Place in a resealable plastic bag with as much air removed as possible or wrap in plastic wrap. 
  • Leafy Greens: Lettuces and leafy greens can be tricky. If you bought pre-washed greens, no prep is needed. If unwashed, you will want to rinse well and thoroughly dry leaves using a salad spinner before storing. Line a container with paper towels and dump your greens in. They should be loose and not tightly packed. Place another paper towel on top to prevent sogginess. Close the container and put it in your fridge.
  • Leeks: Rinse any dirt off of the leeks roots and leaves. For best results, leave them whole and wrap leeks in damp paper towels. Keep them wrapped loosely in plastic to contain odors and moisture. Otherwise their scent may permeate other items in the fridge.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms need to breathe and shouldn’t be stored in plastic or closed containers. They also do not do well when damp. Place mushrooms unwashed in a paper bag in the fridge. 
  • Nuts: While you often see nuts stored in the cupboard, placing them in the fridge will actually extend their shelf-life and keep them nice and crunchy. Put nuts in a sealed container in the fridge. 
  • Oats: Believe it or not, raw oats actually keep best refrigerated. This is due to their high oil content. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Okra: Okra is somewhat fragile and can bruise easily. Wrap in paper towels or store loose in a paper bag. Make sure it can access air. 
  • Parsnip / Turnip / Rutabaga: Wrap these root veggies in plastic to retain moisture and store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Make sure you remove any greens beforehand as they will decay faster and suck water from the roots. 
  • Peas: Peas need to be refrigerated ASAP. They quickly degrade and lose flavor at warmer temperatures. Place whole pods in an airy mesh bag or move shelled peas to an open bowl in the fridge. Do not wash beforehand. 
  • Peppers: Keep peppers dry in a breathable bag in the refrigerator. Washing before storing will cause them to rot faster, so hold off until you are ready to eat. Do not leave them in a closed container or wrapped tightly in plastic. 
  • Pomegranate: Leave pomegranates whole until you are ready to eat. Place in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer. 
  • Radishes: First you will want to remove the leaves, stem, and root from the radishes. Rinse and store prepped radishes in a mason jar with cold water. 
  • Seeds: Like nuts, seeds keep better refrigerated than in the pantry. Put seeds in a sealed container in the fridge. 
  • Shredded Coconut: If you want to extend the shelf-life of your shredded coconut, put it in the fridge. Transfer coconut to an airtight container and seal. 
  • Sprouts (alfalfa, bean, lentil): Thoroughly wash and dry sprouts before storing. It is important that they are dry before refrigerating, otherwise they will quickly spoil. Line a container with paper towels and place the dried sprouts inside. Close the container and place in the fridge. If your sprouts came pre-rinsed in a perforated container, this should be fine to leave them in as well. 
  • Summer Squash (zucchini, yellow): Summer squashes should be left in a breathable plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Do not wash beforehand.

Food Storage Tips | Rainbowl FoodsDon’t forget to reuse plastic bags and wraps! You can reuse most bags and wraps many, many times before trashing or recycling. 

In the Freezer

If you are not going to eat your food in a timely manner, freezing might be a viable option! The following foods freeze well. Make sure you wash items well prior to freezing so they are ready to eat once defrosted. Typically it works best if you freeze foods spread out in a single layer and then transfer to a bag/container once frozen for long-term storage. This prevents items from clumping together. 

  • Apples: Peel, core, and slice.
  • Artichoke: Blanch or cook. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Asparagus: Cut off 1 inch of stem and blanch. 
  • Avocado: Freeze sliced or mashed. 
  • Bananas: Peel and slice. 
  • Beets: Slice before freezing.
  • Berries 
  • Bread
  • Broccoli: Chop and blanch. 
  • Brussels Sprouts: Blanch or roast.
  • Cabbage: Cut into wedges and blanch. 
  • Carrots: Peel and freeze fresh or blanched*.
  • Cauliflower: Freeze fresh or blanched*.
  • Celery: Freeze fresh or blanched*. Will be mushy when defrosted — good for soups and sauces.
  • Cherries: Remove pit.
  • Citrus: Freeze whole or sliced. Remove seeds if sliced. 
  • Coconut 
  • Corn: Freeze whole, kernels only, or cooked kernels. 
  • Dates: Dates keep great in the freezer! Remove the pit before freezing for easy future use.
  • Fennel: Blanch the bulb. Freeze stalks and leaves in ice cube trays with water
  • Figs: Remove stems. Peel or cut in half if desired. 
  • Garlic: Freeze whole or peeled.
  • Ginger: Peel and mince or grate.
  • Grapes: Remove from stems. 
  • Green Beans: Freeze fresh or blanched*. 
  • Herbs: Remove leaves. Freeze as is or in an ice cube tray with water or oil added.
  • Leafy Greens (spinach, kale, chard): Remove leaves from stems. Freeze fresh or blanched*. The texture will not be the same when thawed. Use in soups, smoothies, or sauces.
  • Leeks: Freeze fresh or blanched*. 
  • Kiwi Fruit: Peel and slice.
  • Mango: Peel and slice.
  • Melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, winter melon): Cube and remove seeds/skin. 
  • Mushroom: Chop and freeze fresh or cooked. 
  • Nuts: Freeze in shell or de-shelled.
  • Oats: Freeze raw or cooked in small portions. 
  • Okra: Trim stem ends (avoid cutting into the pod) and blanch. 
  • Onion: Freeze fresh or blanched*. 
  • Papaya: Cube and remove seeds/skin.
  • Parsnip / Turnip / Rutabaga: Peel, chop, and blanch. 
  • Pear: Peel, core, and slice.
  • Peas: Freeze fresh or blanched*. 
  • Peppers: Slice, deseed, and freeze raw. 
  • Persimmons: Freeze whole or peel and puree. 
  • Pineapple: Remove skin and cut. 
  • Plantains: Peel and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. 
  • Pomegranate: Remove skin/flesh and freeze seeds. 
  • Radish: Chop and blanch. 
  • Seeds
  • Sprouts (bean, lentil): Blanch before freezing. Alfalfa sprouts do not freeze well. 
  • Squash (all): Freeze fresh or blanched*. 
  • Stone Fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums): Slice and remove pit. 
  • Tomatoes: Will be mushy when defrosted — good for soups and sauces.

*Blanched vegetables will last longer in the freezer.

Additional Food Storage Tips

Some fruits and veggies create ethylene gas as they ripen. Certain produce is sensitive to ethylene gas and will spoil more quickly if exposed. The following foods produce medium to high amounts of ethylene gas: 

  • Apples 
  • Apricots
  • Avocados 
  • Bananas 
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Nectarine
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Peaches 
  • Pears 
  • Plantains
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Keep the above items away from foods sensitive to ethylene gas (unless you want them to ripen faster) including: 

  • Apples 
  • Apricot
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados 
  • Bananas 
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber 
  • Eggplant 
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Herbs
  • Honeydew 
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Lemons 
  • Leafy Greens
  • Leeks
  • Limes 
  • Mangoes 
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions 
  • Peaches 
  • Pears 
  • Peppers 
  • Persimmon
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Sprouts
  • Squash 
  • Sweet Potatoes 
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon

Hopefully the above food storage tips will help you save your produce until you are ready to eat! 

Looking for more healthy living tips and recipes. Follow @rainbowlfoods on Instagram!

I am not a medical professional. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, dietary changes, or well-being.

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