The Kitchn's Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables

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This past week my CSA pickup share was as bountiful as it's been all summer. A dozen tomatoes, six or seven ears of corn, crisp greens, a pound of peaches. It's quite a sight to lay it all out on the countertop and plan for the week ahead. But it can also be a little daunting. Wait, how do I store fresh herbs again? What's the best way to handle the tomatoes? Do melons go in the refrigerator or on the countertop?

With so much produce at our fingertips this season, it's time for a refresher on the proper way to store various fruits and vegetables. Here are the best ways to store apples, tomatoes, fresh basil, and many, many more varieties of fresh produce.

A Few General Guidelines

  • Do Not Store Fruits and Vegetables Together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the "one bad apple" adage.)
  • For Vegetables: Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. Leave an inch to keep the vegetable from drying out. Make sure the bag you store the veggies in has some holes punctured to allow for good air flow. Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator. The closer they are, the quicker they will rot. Leafy greens can be washed before storing by soaking them in a sink full of water, while soft herbs and mushrooms should not be washed until right before they are used.
  • For Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a countertop, while items like bell peppers, grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated. Bananas in particular ripen very quickly, and will also speed the ripening of any nearby fruits.
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The Best Ways to Store Vegetables

• How to store artichokes.
• How to store asparagus.
• How to store brussels sprouts.
• How to store carrots.
• How to store cauliflower.
• How to store sweet corn.
• How to store cucumbers.
• How to store and keep fresh greens and lettuces.
• How to store eggplant.
• How to store mushrooms.
• How to store napa cabbage.
• How to store onions.
• How to store potatoes.
• How to store scallions.

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The Best Ways to Store Fruit

• How to store apples.
• How to store Asian pears.
• How to store avocados.
• How to store fresh berries.
• How to store cherries.
• How to store dates.
• How to store figs.
• How to store grapes.
• How to store kiwi.
• How to store lemons.
• How to store persimmons, pomegranates, and quince.
• How to store tomatoes.

The Best Ways to Store Herbs
• How to store cilantro.
• How to store fresh herbs generally.
• How to freeze and preserve herbs.

Do you have any tips or habits for fruit and vegetable storage?

It's Reader Request Week at The Kitchn!
This post was requested by Short and Sweets.

Originally published 8.29.2012.

(Image credits: Cambria Bold; Faith Durand)