Know where and how to store fresh produce

Keeping Produce Fresh

by Leanne Ely, CNC


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One place you can really get nailed on is buying fresh produce. Produce will only keep so long so you absolutely have to have a plan to use it up. If all you do is buy it and let it sit in your fridge, you might as well start flushing five-dollar bills down the toilet!

But still the question remains, how do you keep your produce fresh? That's a great question and the answer varies according to what you have. Let's tackle the most common fruits and veggies, shall we?

First up, there are some things you need to know about keeping produce fresh. There is a certain chemical compound called ethylene that is released as produce ripens. This ripening action builds up in a closed plastic bag so the gas makes your food break down quicker. What I do is keep the bags open to avoid that too quick ripening factor. If you take it out of the bags, it will dry out so opening the bag really helps to preserve it. Check the packaging you bought your produce in. Often times, these bags have little holes in them to allow the ethylene to release without drying out.

Secondly, there are things that should be refrigerated and there are others that should not. Here is a list of stuff to store in your pantry:

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Hard winter squashes
  • Sweet potatoes

Keeping these guys away from the light will help prolong their shelf life and stop your potatoes and onions from sprouting.

Here is a list of stuff to stick in the fridge:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melons (unless you're trying to ripen up on the countertop)
  • Corn
  • Berries (don't wash until ready to use)
  • Grapes
  • Peas
  • Any citrus
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus (cut the ends off and place them in a glass of water, plastic over the top)
  • Lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers
  • Leeks
  • Greens
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Any fresh herbs
  • Radishes
  • Green onions or scallions
  • Zucchini and summer squash
  • Turnips
  • Green beans
  • Celery

The thinner the skin on the fruit or vegetable, the sooner it needs to be used.

Here is a list of stuff that can start on your counter then can go into the fridge if necessary, but you need to be aware that it can get too cold and end up somewhat bruised or ruined by the fridge:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Papaya
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Nectarines
  • Mangos
  • Kiwi

There you go with everything you wanted to know about keeping produce but were afraid to ask! This simple guide should help you start storing and using your produce wisely without the spoilage. Enjoy!


Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular, FlyLady.net, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. SavingDinner.com. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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