Quick Fix: How to Properly Store Fruits and Vegetables

Tired of produce that doesn’t seem to ripen or the opposite, produce that goes bad quickly?  Vegetables actually respire (a kind of breathing) and different vegetables respire at different levels. Potatoes respire very slowly so they keep for a longer time. Strawberries respire quickly so they don’t keep for a long time. Refrigeration retards the respiration or slows it down which is a good thing for berries but not so good for bananas or under-ripened pears. Proper storage means you’ll get the best your veggies have to offer.

  1. Store fruits and vegetables separately. Some fruits can cause some vegetables to ripen quickly so that they may spoil before you get the chance to use them.
  2. Soak leafy greens in a sink of tepid water. Shake as much water from them as possible and then lay them out onto clean dish towels, roll them up, seal them in plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  3. Wash mushrooms and berries right before using them. Never ahead of time.When to wash strawberries
  4. Store winter squash, potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic at room temperature. I like to keep mine in a ceramic bowl on my kitchen counter.
  5. Store bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and celery in the little plastic bags from the store in the vegetable bins in the fridge. The plastic keeps them neat and tidy and fresher longer.
  6. Trim the tops from radishes, fennel, celery root and carrots before storing them as the tops degrade and go slimy faster than the vegetables.
  7. Lemons and limes can sit at room temperature for a few days and they juice better when room temp, but they keep for longer periods in the fridge.
  8. Never refrigerate tomatoes and avocados. The cold kills the taste.
  9. Ripen pears on the countertop but once perfectly ripe, either eat them or refrigerate so they don’t continue to ripen.How to store pears
  10. Refrigerate fresh parsley and cilantro, stems down in a water filled glass jar with a plastic bag loosely fitted over the top. They will stay fresh for a week.
Carla Snyder
Posted by: Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes. Look for Carla on Facebook, Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest and at ravenouskitchen.com where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.


  1. I knew a few of these items but some I learned just by your page & liked hearing about how to store fruits & veggies.

    1. Hello Arlene – We recommend placing your bananas in a brown paper bag. The natural gases released by the bananas can speed up the ripening process. Good luck!

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