The Kitchn’s Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables

updated May 10, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Fact: CSAs can be amazing. In just one week, you can end up with a dozen tomatoes, six or seven ears of corn, crisp greens, and a pound of peaches. CSAs can also be a little daunting. Wait, how do I store fresh herbs again? What’s the best way to handle all these tomatoes? Do melons go in the refrigerator or on the countertop?

With so much produce about to come our way (either through a CSA, a farmers market, or a big trip to the grocery store), 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.
(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

The Best Ways to Store Vegetables

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The Best Ways to Store Fruit

Other Produce Storage Tips

  • A Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables Without Plastic

  • What Produce Survives Best Outside of the Refrigerator?
  • How to Keep Veggies Crisp in the Fridge?
  • Foods That Should Never Be Stored in the Refrigerator

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