Storing fresh food from A to Z

Storing fresh produce can be confusing. While it seems like dumping everything in the fridge is the easy answer, some foods need to be stored carefully and some don’t go in the fridge at all.

Find your grocery list items below to make sure you keep your food fresh for as long as you can.

Fruit

  • Apples: Refrigerated apples can last for up to two months. For best results, store apples without touching each other.
  • Apricots: Ripen apricots at room temperature, and then store them in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Avocados: An unripe avocado can take up to five days to ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, you can store them in the fridge for up to two days.
  • Bananas: Hang bananas from a hook to prevent accelerated ripening that occurs when bananas touch surfaces. They'll last for up to 10 days.
  • Blueberries: Remove rotting or soggy berries and place blueberries in a glass or plastic container. They'll stay good for up to two weeks.
  • Cantaloupe: Ripen cantaloupe at room temperature, then place it in the fridge. Cantaloupes can carry food-borne illnesses. Once cut, keep cantaloupe covered in the fridge. If it's at room temperature for more than one hour, throw it away.
  • Eggplant: Ripen eggplant at room temperature, then place it in a perforated bag in the fridge for one week.
  • Figs: Put figs in a paper towel-lined basket in the fridge. Do not stack figs or allow them to touch.
  • Grapefruit: Store grapefruit on a shelf in the refrigerator. Before eating, allow grapefruit to sit at room temperature for maximum sweetness. Once cut, store in the refrigerator for up to three days. An uncut grapefruit will last for two to three weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Mangoes: Ripen mangoes in a paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, mangoes can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for one week.
  • Oranges: Oranges will last three to four weeks when stored in the refrigerator in a bag, container, or directly on the shelf.
  • Pineapple: Store pineapples in a perforated bag in the refrigerator for four to five days. Pineapples stored on the counter at room temperature are good for one to two days (this will not increase sweetness).
  • Peppers: Put peppers in a covered plastic container or in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Raspberries: Remove raspberries from packaging, remove any damaged berries, and place in a towel-lined container (uncovered). Raspberries will last for five to six days at the most.
  • Strawberries: Remove strawberries from packaging, separate any damaged berries, and place in a small colander. Don't wash until ready to use. For the best flavor, rinse and let them sit at room temperature for one hour before eating. Strawberries are good for up to five days. 
  • Watermelon: Store uncut watermelons in the warmest part of the refrigerator or at room temperature. An uncut watermelon will last for one to two weeks. Once cut, store watermelon for up to three days.

Vegetables

  • Asparagus: Store asparagus upright with the stems in 1 to 2 inches of water for up to 10 days.
  • Beets: Separate the roots from the greens. Store greens for seven days and roots for up to a month. Don't wash until ready to use.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Store cut broccoli in a produce bag.
  • Brussels sprouts: Place Brussels sprouts directly on the refrigerator shelf for up to a month.
  • Cabbage: Cabbage will stay fresh anywhere in your fridge for up to two months.
  • Carrots: Wrap carrots tightly in plastic before placing in the fridge for up to one month. The key to longevity with carrots is keeping them moist. If they dry out, they lose taste and nutrients.
  • Cauliflower: Cauliflower will stay fresh for up to two weeks when stored directly on a shelf in the fridge.
  • Celery: Place celery in plastic and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  • Cucumbers: Place cucumbers in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Green beans: Green beans can be stored in a covered plastic container or plastic bag.
  • Lettuce: You can buy containers of washed lettuce, or wash and dry lettuce, then wrap it in a paper towel. Store in a sealed plastic bag. For large quantities, place moist paper towels on top of lettuce and cover in plastic for up to two weeks.
  • Herbs: Store herbs in water or with the roots wrapped in a wet paper towel (changed frequently) in the refrigerator or in the high-humidity crisper. 
  • Mushrooms: Store mushrooms in a closed paper bag in the fridge for up to one week. Don't store mushrooms in the crisper drawer — it's too moist.
  • Potatoes: Place potatoes in a paper bag at room temperature for up to one week. Don't rinse potatoes before storing them.
  • Tomatoes: Remove tomatoes from plastic bags. Store at room temperature in a paper towel-lined box or tray with the stems facing up. Avoid heat, cold, or sunlight. If some tomatoes begin to rot, separate them from the fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are good for one week.

Other

  • Bread: Wrap bread in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. Don't store bread in the refrigerator (it will dry out). Bread may be frozen and defrosted one time. Defrost bread at room temperature and refresh in the oven.
  • Dairy: Keep milk, cheeses, yogurt, and creams on the middle shelves. Even if you have built-in shelves, keep these foods out of the door.
  • Eggs: Store eggs in the original carton in the fridge. Don't store them in the door even if it has an egg compartment because it isn't cold enough.
  • Garlic: Never store raw garlic in oil. This can lead to botulism, a paralytic illness caused by bacteria. Instead, place garlic in a cool place in your kitchen. It's best stored in a garlic keeper that's ventilated.

Wondering what kinds of foods you should be eating? Check out this downloadable list of kitchen staples.

About the Author

Paige Crawford

Paige Crawford, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., is a senior project coordinator and performance dietitian at EXOS. She develops nutrition content and manages projects on the performance innovation team.

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