Found this utterly complete guide to store your fruits and vegetables, made by a couple whose experience on a organic CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, motivated them to list down these items and came up with this terrific tip list for us. Check it out
Before we start, a quick chemistry lesson. Ethylene is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by some fruits and it helps them ripen (or age). Some produce a lot more of the chemical, like apples and pears, than others so a lot of tips revolve around segregating these producers. As an aside, ethylene is what commercial growers use to ripen some fruits after harvest.
You probably know this trick to help ripen bananas faster – put bananas in a paper bag. That’s because the bag traps the ethylene and that helps ripen the fruit. You can expand this strategy by taking fruits that produce more ethylene, like apples, and putting them in with those that don’t produce as much, like tomatoes and bananas. The apples help the tomatoes and bananas ripen. Also, that saying “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” is in part caused by ethylene. When a plant or fruit is damaged, it releases more ethylene which, in turn, ripens the other fruits faster! (the damaged area also attracts bugs, which then discover the feast).
Which fruits produce the most ethylene? Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes comprise the short list of produce that are a significant source of ethylene. You will want to keep these fruits away from other fruits and vegetables, and certainly not store them in the same enclosed space, unless you want them to ripen faster.
Where to Store Fruits & Vegetables
There are basically three places you should store your fruits and vegetables – in the refrigerator, on the countertop, or in a cool dry place (not as cold as the fridge, but certainly not someplace “warm”). When in the fridge, there are three ways to store something – exposed, in a plastic bag, or in a paper bag. In general, the stuff that you put inside bags will want a more humid environment while the exposed ones do better in dryer climates. Ever notice water condensation inside a plastic bag? You can avoid that by putting a few holes in it. That water isn’t good for the produce, it promotes mold.
If all else fails, I generally try to store the fruit or vegetable the same way the grocery store does it. Asparagus is stored in a tray of water. Bananas hang out on the counter. It’s not a perfect system but if you aren’t sure how to store them, it doesn’t hurt to copy the grocery store.
Store in Refrigerator
In general, you do not want to wash fruits and vegetables until right before you use them. If you do wash them, make sure to dry them before storing. Water promotes mold and mold is bad. There’s a subset on this list that you absolutely cannot wash, like berries, simply because you can’t get it dry enough!
Here are the items you will want to store in a fridge:
Don’t wash these before you put them in a fridge and, if you can, store in a single layer. If you wash them, the skins will get soggy and it’ll accelerate spoilage. The argument for storing them in a single layer is because when they do start to go bad, the juice that leaks out can accelerate the decline of other berries. Storing in a single layer reduces the amount of damage while permitted air flow.
Blackberries Blueberries Raspberries Strawberries
Store on the Countertop
When storing on the counter top, try to keep it at room temperature. Avoid sunlight and cooking surfaces, which can increase the ambient temperature. If you want it to ripen, then you can leave it in the sun. If you can, move them around every so often so they aren’t resting on the same point. This is especially important for tomatoes.
Many root vegetables are best stored in a cool dry dark place, which is why root cellars were so popular back in the days of yore. One thing to keep in mind is that air circulation is important because of ethylene buildup. You may have heard the advice that you shouldn’t store onions and potatoes, that’s because of ethylene.
Organizing the list by “where,” as opposed to by “what” might not be the best approach if you have a fruit or vegetable and just want to know where you should put it. Here’s a list alphabetized by the fruit/veg (download as a PDF here):
Acorn squash – cool, dry place Apples – on the countertop Artichokes – in fridge Avocados – in fridge after ripening Bananas – on the countertop Basil – on the countertop Beets – in fridge Blackberries – in fridge, single layer, do not wash Blueberries – in fridge, single layer, do not wash Broccoli – in fridge, in plastic bag Brussels sprouts – in fridge Butternut squash – cool, dry place Cabbage – in fridge Cantelopes – in fridge Carrots – in fridge, in plastic bag Cauliflower – in fridge, in plastic bag Celery – in fridge Chard – in fridge, in plastic bag Cherries – in fridge Corn – in fridge, in plastic bag Cranberries – in fridge, in plastic bag Cucumbers – on the countertop Eggplant – on the countertop Garlic – cool, dry place Ginger – on the countertop Grapefruit – on the countertop Grapes – in fridge Green beans – in fridge Green onions – in fridge, in plastic bag Honeydew Melons – in fridge Jicama – on the countertop Kiwi – in fridge after ripening Leafy vegetables – in fridge Leeks – in fridge Lemons – on the countertop Lettuce – in fridge, in plastic bag Lima beans – in fridge Limes – on the countertop Mangoes – on the countertop Mushrooms – in fridge Nectarines – in fridge after ripening Okra – in fridge Oranges – on the countertop Onions – cool, dry place Papayas – on the countertop Peaches – in fridge after ripening Pears – in fridge after ripening Peas – in fridge, in plastic bag Peppers – on the countertop Persimmons – on the countertop Pineapple – on the countertop Plantains – on the countertop Plums – in fridge after ripening Pomegranates – on the countertop Potatoes – cool, dry place Pumpkins – cool, dry place Radishes – in fridge, in plastic bag Raspberries – in fridge, single layer, do not wash Shallots – cool, dry place Spaghetti squash – cool, dry place Spinach – in fridge Sprouts – in fridge Strawberries – in fridge, single layer, do not wash Summer squash – in fridge Sweet potatoes – cool, dry place Tomatoes – on the countertop Yellow squash – in fridge Winter squash – cool, dry place Watermelon – on the countertop Zucchini – in fridge [/b]
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