Storage Wars

How to Store Literally Every Dang Fruit & Vegetable

In this week's Storage Wars, we'll break down how to store your farmers market haul, from apples to zucchini.

February  8, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

Welcome to Storage Wars, a new series about the best ways to store, well, everything. From how to keep produce orderly in the fridge (or not), to ways to get your oddball nooks and crannies shipshape; and yes, how to organize all those unwieldy containers once and for all—we've got you covered.


I tend to do one big farmers market trip for all my weekly produce. I set out armed with as many reusable totes as I can shove into my trusty grocery cart (which once helped me lug the contents of an entire Thanksgiving dinner, including a frozen 17-pound turkey, by subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn). After unloading the produce haul and spending several minutes admiring the colorful bounty, panic sets in: Keeping everything fresh for the week can be challenging if not done properly.

Luckily, there are plenty of tricks to keep lettuce crisp, carrots crunchy, berries un-mushed, potatoes unsprouted, herbs perky...and that’s only the beginning. From the best places in the kitchen to store the produce to how to store everything, there are plenty of dos and don’ts. So you never have to wonder—or bite into a limp radish—ever again, here’s our ultimate guide to the best ways to store fruits and vegetables.


All The Alliums

Garlic

Store garlic in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation, in a mesh or paper bag.

Leeks

Store leeks in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel. For extra protection, put the damp cloth inside a plastic bag (easy to reuse!). Don’t forget to wash them really well.

Onions

Store onions in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation, in a mesh or paper bag.



Crunchy, Leafy Vegetables (Herbs, Fungi & Nightshades, Too)

Carrots

Store carrots in a plastic, mesh, or open cloth bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin; if you don’t have room in the fridge, opt for a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation, in a mesh or paper bag.

Celery

Store celery wrapped tightly in aluminum foil (weird, we know!) in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin; though you can reuse foil, for a more environmentally friendly option, wrap in a damp cloth towel.

Cucumbers

Store cucumbers in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation, or in the refrigerator on a high shelf—warmer than the crisper. (Store zucchini and summer squash this way, too.)

Eggplant

Store eggplant in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation.

Fennel

Store fennel in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel with the stalks and bulb separated, in two plastic or mesh bags.

Greens

Store greens, unwashed until you’re ready to eat them, in the refrigerator in a container with a paper or tea towel draped over the top instead of a lid (or wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel). For another idea, check out lettuce.

Herbs

Store herbs in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel; alternatively, store them stems-down in a water-filled jar at room temperature (or in the refrigerator with the tops covered by a bag—store scallions and asparagus like this, too!). Basil is best left out of the fridge and used as quickly as possible, to avoid its turning brown.

Lettuce

Store lettuce directly in the salad spinner, post-wash and spin, in the fridge with the lid on (this also works for greens).

Mushrooms

Store mushrooms in the refrigerator (or somewhere very cool), in the perforated package they were purchased in, or in a paper bag.

Peppers

Store peppers in a cool spot in the kitchen, in a container covered with a cloth towel.

Potatoes

Store potatoes in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation, in a mesh or paper bag. (Store sweet potatoes and beets like this, too!)

Radishes

Store radishes (and their greens) in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel. If they lose some of their crunch after a couple days in the fridge, soak them in ice water until they perk up.

Squash

Store squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, kabocha, etc.) in a dry, dark place with plenty of room-temperature to cool air circulation.

Tomatoes

Store tomatoes in a cool spot in the kitchen with plenty of air circulation; to keep super-ripe tomatoes for another day or so, store them in the refrigerator. (Store peaches the same way.)



F is for Fruit

Apples

Store apples in the refrigerator’s vegetable bin—some suggest wrapping each apple in newspaper to prevent one rotting apple from spoiling the brunch.

Avocado

Store avocados in a cool spot in the kitchen with plenty of air circulation. If they’re at prime ripeness, but you’re not eating them today, transfer them to the refrigerator to preserve that ripeness level for a couple days. For cut avocados, read this article for a couple ideas to prevent the inevitable browning.

Bananas

Buy bananas slightly underripe, store them at room temperature until they hit ideal ripeness, then transfer them to the refrigerator to preserve that ripeness level for a couple days.

Berries

Store berries in a container lined with paper or cloth towels, with the lid slightly open. To extend their life, first wash berries in a solution of vinegar and water, then dry thoroughly and transfer to the container.

Citrus

Store citrus fruits (including lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges) in the refrigerator in a moist environment—some say to submerge them in a bowl of water; for those with less fridge real estate, store citrus in tightly sealed zip-top or silicone bags.

Mangoes

Store mangoes in a cool spot in the kitchen with plenty of air circulation. If they’re at prime ripeness, but you’re not eating them today, transfer them to the refrigerator to preserve that ripeness level for a couple days.

Need Even More Produce Advice?

For extra produce-storage tips, check out this article.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“If you are fond of blue green mold, by all means store your citrus in a damp environment, otherwise best not to.”
— Smaug
Comment

How do you store produce? Do you have a foolproof tip? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • EveM
    EveM
  • Basia Dugan
    Basia Dugan
  • Barry Ryman
    Barry Ryman
  • Carmen Shearer
    Carmen Shearer
  • rbrock1225
    rbrock1225
Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. She tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

25 Comments

EveM February 17, 2021
I put my lemons in gallon of water with 1/2 c white vinegar for 30 minutes then wash off, dry and in a sealed bag into the fridge. Last for a very long time..Limes too...this way I can buy a lot of Meyer lemons when in season and not have them go bad before i can use.
 
carol February 19, 2021
I'm curious about why the submersion and addition of vinegar? Does that prolong the shelf life of the citrus?
 
Basia D. February 15, 2021
I would love to see an addition of can/how to freeze produce if they’re at the end of their shelf life!
 
Barry R. February 14, 2021
unable to read artical due to excessive add content
very interested in saving food artical
how can I get to read
 
Carmen S. February 14, 2021
Thank you for writing this although I have been very successful at storing all my fruit and vegetables and take much pride at my knowledge it was a good refresher course ..
 
rbrock1225 February 14, 2021
The single biggest improvement is one I learned about from our daughter (a NFP). There's a product called BluApple that you can add to your produce drawers and greatly slow the rate of spoilage. The same company has two other products that also help. I have no affiliation w/the company but have found a huge savings. Also, their claims are backed by reputable science.
 
Cy February 14, 2021
That sounds interesting, I am going to look into it. Thanks for the tip!
 
rbrock1225 February 15, 2021
You're welcome.


Also, on their site, they have info on veggie/fruit storage: https://thebluapple.com/pages/produce-storage-tips
 
Cy February 14, 2021
I foil trick with celery is genius! I’ve been using it for the past six months or so. I tell everyone I know. Also works great for cucumbers. The best way with most herbs is the damp paper towel or cloth in a plastic bag ( I use reusable, compostable paper towels). I agree the really challenging part is finding room in my tiny fridge( one produce drawer!)
 
Teddee G. February 14, 2021
Many of these storage suggestions are impractical if you live in an apartment with no cool, dark, dry place for storage.
 
carol February 14, 2021
Is it true that potatoes and onions should not be stored together? Also I've heard that potatoes should not be put in the fridge- ever. I never put my tomatoes in the fridge unless they are so ripe I will be cooking them down.
 
Smaug February 14, 2021
There is a theory that potatoes stored in the refrigerators will metabolize starches into sugar (a lot of root crops, and others such as citrus, develop sugars as protection against freezing) and that this will hasten their demise- this is likely true to some extent, and russets do OK out of the refrigerators, but I've found that new potatoes will be fine in the refrigerator if used in a reasonable time and will shrivel and try to sprout if out of it; I think they actually last longer in the refrigerator. I don't know anything specific about potatoes and onions, but many foods will absorb odor from onions; they're a pretty uneasy companion.
 
carol February 14, 2021
Thank you!
 
Alison H. February 14, 2021
As a Florida resident there is no location in the house cool, dark and dry with air circulation. Mostly have to make do with in-fridge life or out-of-fridge short life cycles. I can only dream of these options. Since everything has to live in the fridge here, have invested in a set of plastic vented fruit storage berry boxes that help keep things much fresher and I don’t have to have open containers or weird towels in the fridge.
 
jeannebrody February 17, 2021
Food52, how do you define "cool, dark and dry with air circulation"? Does a kitchen cabinet count? Or are you talking about a basement situation?
 
M February 8, 2021
I store most produce in clear plastic bags that get rinsed and re-used several times. Cut veg is sometimes wrapped in saran, which is also rinsed and re-used.

Radishes and carrots (and sometimes celery) last a month or more in plastic bags, and most others at least a couple weeks. Herbs last 2 weeks in the jar of water + bag, but that's a massive space-hog and prone to tipping if the fridge is full. Mushrooms almost always come in plastic wrap unless bought in bulk, so they're transferred to a mushroom bag. If I don't get to them in time, I let them dry out fully for future use.
 
Thea M. February 14, 2021
Also, plastic bags (like ziploc) can be recycled at your store drop off recycling bin!
 
Smaug February 14, 2021
Have you done comparison tests with other storage methods? Foil will certainly slow evaporation but is there any evidence that it does better than storing it in plastic bags, wrapping in wax paper or any other method?
 
Smaug February 14, 2021
Oops, this belongs with the post below. On the subject of ziplocks, I understand some recyclers don't take them (at least intentionally)- don't know why exactly.
 
Cy February 14, 2021
The evidence is that your celery and cucumbers last much longer than any of the other methods. Iv’e tried them all :)
 
Smaug February 14, 2021
Hm- in side by side tests? I don't know what my record is for celery in plastic bags, probably a couple of months or so. At any rate I've never had to throw it away, so I haven't bothered trying other methods. I'm all for experimental science, but you gotta choose your spots.
 
Smaug February 8, 2021
I have made a moderate effort to find out if there's anything to the aluminum foil thing for celery- couldn't find anything from any scientists, but a lot of cooking blogs recommend it, all of them citing a comment in Cook's Illustrated that, on the face of it, doesn't seem to make much sense. The theory is that celery emits ethylene gas -, which it does in quite small quantities- and that this will cause the celery to spoil. Ethylene gas accelerates flowering and ripening of fruit in many plants; I know of no examples of it acting on vegetative growth, like celery stalks. The idea is that aluminum foil will allow ethylene gas to escape while not allowing water to evaporate, which seems awfully dubious- at any rate, I keep celery in plastic bags and it keeps very well for several weeks. It can be revived in a glass of water if it does start to dry out. If you are fond of blue green mold, by all means store your citrus in a damp environment, otherwise best not to.
 
Thea M. February 14, 2021
Not sure about it being backed by science, but I actually do the foil trick and it 100% works.
 
Thea M. February 14, 2021
@smaug in my experience the foil works better than a plastic bag. I’m always shocked how long my celery - including the leaves - lasts in foil.
 
Cy February 14, 2021
It works great!