There's nothing more disheartening than gleefully taking that big, juicy, fire engine red tomato out of the fridge, only to discover it tastes like...nothing.
If only you hadn't stuck that beautiful heirloom fruit in the fridge. As it turns out, refrigeration wrecks the flavor of tomatoes by damaging the membranes inside the fruit, giving them a bland flavor and mealy texture that could ruin an otherwise flawless BLT.
Don't let a farmers market bounty to go waste by storing it improperly. As long as you know how long and where to store each fruit and veggie, you'll get the most out of every market trip and all but eliminate food waste.
Most fresh fruits and vegetables keep best when they're stored in the refrigerator. Generally speaking, fresh produce should be eaten within a few days of being purchased to enjoy the freshest flavor and the most nutrients!
However, a few fruits and vegetables (aka bananas and tomatoes) actually last longer and retain a better flavor when they're stored at room temperature. To maximize your fridge and counter space, and get the most out of each farmers market run, here are some tips for storing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Best stored in the refrigerator
- Any fresh-cut items, such as fruit or pre-cut salads (eat immediately)
- Berries (eat as soon as possible, storing them for no longer than one week)
- Pears (eat within 3 to 4 days)
- Plums (eat within 3 to 4 days)
- Pineapple (eat within 3 to 5 days)
- Melons (eat within one week)
- Grapes (eat within one week)
- Apples (eat within three weeks)
- Citrus fruits (eat within three weeks)
- Rhubarb (eat within four weeks)
- Pumpkins (eat within two or three months)
- Herbs (eat within a few days)
- Peas (eat within 3 to 5 days)
- Beets (eat within 3 to 5 days)
- Broccoli (eat within 3 to 5 days)
- Lettuce and other greens (eat within 3 to 5 days)
- Summer squash (eat within 4 to 5 days)
- Asparagus (eat within 5 days)
- Artichokes (eat within one week)
- Peppers (eat within one week)
- Okra (eat within one week)
- Cucumbers (eat within one week)
- Eggplant (eat within one week)
- Cauliflower (eat within one week)
- Cabbage (eat within two weeks)
- Celery (eat within two weeks)
- Corn on the cob (eat within two weeks)
- Spinach (eat within two weeks)
- Radishes (eat within four weeks)
- Carrots (eat within six weeks)
- Parsnips (eat within two to six months)
Best stored on the kitchen counter
- Bananas (until ripe)
- Tomatoes (until ripe, then up to a week)
- Most unripe fruits like stone fruit, mango, pear, avocado (until ripe)
- Potatoes (store in a cool, dark place for up to two months)
- Onions (store in a cool, dark place for up to one month)
- Garlic (store in a cool, dark place for up to one month)
- Winter squash (store in a cool, dark place for one to two months)
If you must store fresh fruit outside of the refrigerator, most can be stored at room temperature until they're ripe. The same goes for vegetables that should be stored at room temperature—they can be stored in the fridge, but will most likely lose some of their flavor.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho