How to Keep Produce Fresh

Unless you purchase all locally-grown produce, the vegetables and fruits you buy at the grocery store usually travel thousands of miles to reach your dinner plate. To ensure that produce looks fresh while sitting on grocery store shelves, growers usually pick crops before maturation. By the time you buy it, produce is already in the process of decaying. By following a few produce storage tips, you can slow down the aging process and keep produce fresh as long as possible.


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    Shop frequently instead of stocking up. The more often you buy produce throughout the week, the better chance you have of purchasing fresh stock.
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    Examine all produce for bruises, nicks and decay. Damaged produce will rapidly decay because once broken leaves and skin are exposed to air, spoilage will occur. If produce in your refrigerator is damaged, consume it sooner than undamaged items.
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    Prepare daily meals based on the individual spoilage factors of each item. Fragile produce such as lettuce should be eaten sooner than heartier items like potatoes.
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    Store produce in their most accommodating environments. Some produce should not be refrigerated until ripened, like nectarines. Other produce needs a climate controlled storage environment as quickly as possible, such as carrots, which should go into the bin as soon as you bring it home from the store.
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    Utilize plastic bags to maintain humidity when storing certain items, such as zucchini, cabbage and leafy greens. Punch several holes in the plastic bags to allow them to breathe.
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    Keep mushrooms in a paper bag. Because mushrooms will spoil in humid conditions created by plastic bags, keeping them in a paper bag will absorb excess humidity and reduce spoilage.
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    Move berries out of their containers and into plastic containers with lids. Berries are fragile and will quickly deteriorate when exposed to air. Storing them inside a sealed container will minimize produce spoilage due to excess handling and opening and closing of the refrigerator door.
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    Use the crisper bins in your refrigerator for fragile produce storage. Ideally you'll have 2 climate controlled bins; a low humidity one for hard vegetables and fruit with low water content, and a high humidity one for salad greens, herbs and leafy greens like Swiss chard.
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    Cut the ends off asparagus and celery and stand upright in a container with an inch of water.
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    Keep onions and potatoes in a cool, dark place outside of the refrigerator. Do not store them together on the same shelf since onions will cause potatoes to sprout.
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    Separate avocados, bananas and tomatoes away from other vegetables. These produce items emit ethylene, an invisible and odorless gas that causes rapid ripening. Store them on the counter top.


  • Ask your grocery store's produce manager to find out when new produce arrives. Shop on those days for the freshest selection.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic bags
  • Paper bags
  • Plastic containers with lids

Article Info

Categories: Food Selection and Storage