March 16, 2024 at 1:22 pm

How To Store Your Fruit And Vegetables So They Last Longer And A List Of How Many Days They’ll Actually Keep

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

If you’re like me, you have good intentions every time you load up your grocery cart with fresh fruit and vegetables – after all, they cost an arm and a leg so who would set out to waste them?

That said, too many times they languish in a crisper drawer, still in the little thin grocery store baggies until they go into the trash.

If you’re interested in ways you can store those delicious morsels so they’ll last longer, come along for the ride!

Food safety and audit development manager Natalie Seymour says people have all kinds of motivation for wanting to make sure their food is stored properly.

“Everyone wants to know that they’re storing produce the right way. Unfortunately, there is no right answer, because it depends on how you are approaching food storage.”

Source: Shutterstock

So, it might be helpful for you to identify your own needs before looking for advice.

“Some folks ask because they want to know the best way to store produce from a quality standpoint. They want to help their fruit ripen or keep it from changing texture, color, or smell. Others are more focused on food safety. They want to know how to avoid pathogenic growth and ensure the fruit is safe to eat.”

First up is some guidance on which fruits and veg should be stored in the fridge – at least, if it takes you more than a day or two to eat them.

Apples, asparagus, beets, berries, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, grapefruit, leafy greens, leeks, lemons, limes, mangoes, mushrooms, oranges, parsnips, peas, peppers, pineapple, watermelon, and zucchini all tolerate cold temperatures well, and will last longer because of them.

A few others, like tomatoes and bananas, actually spoil faster (or refuse to ripen) in the fridge.

Things like avocados, it depends on their state of ripeness and how long you plan to hold off before eating them.

Source: Shutterstock

Seymour says there are good reasons to take advantage of the crisper drawers meant for fresh produce, too – largely because it keeps them away from the cooling element so they won’t freeze, but also because it keeps them separated from other items.

“There is a risk of illness if animal products drip onto the produce and they are consumed either raw or undercooked. One thing I do at home is use a single drawer to store raw meat and another for produce. I also store meat in a plastic bag to make sure that they are stored separately.”

The list below, created with data from the Department of Health and Human Services, gives you an idea of how long these fruits should be good in the fridge:

  • Apples: 4-6 weeks
  • Blackberries: 3-6 days
  • Blueberries: 1-2 weeks
  • Cantaloupe: 5-15 days
  • Cherries: 2-3 days
  • Grapes: 1 week
  • Kiwi: 3-6 days
  • Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit: 10-21 days
  • Mango: 1 week
  • Peaches, nectarines, plums and pears: 3-5 days
  • Pineapple: 5-7 days
  • Raspberries: 2-3 days
  • Strawberries: 2-3 days
  • Watermelon: 3-4 days

Vegetable storage advice is pretty much the same as with fruit – and you particularly want to keep veg with a high water content away from cooling elements.

I think we’ve all accidentally frozen cut lettuce and ended up with slime.

Here’s a similar chart that should give you a good idea of how long those veggies will keep.

  • Asparagus: 3-4 days
  • Avocados: 3-4 days (after ripening in the pantry)
  • Beans: 3-5 days
  • Beets: 1-2 weeks
  • Bell peppers: 4-14 days
  • Bok choy: 2-3 days
  • Broccoli and cauliflower: 3-5 days
  • Brussels sprouts: 3-5 days
  • Cabbage: 1-2 weeks
  • Carrots and parsnips: 2-3 weeks
  • Celery: 1-2 weeks
  • Cucumbers: 4-6 days
  • Eggplant: 4-7 days
  • Kale: 3-5 days
  • Leeks: 1-2 weeks
  • Mushrooms: 3-7 days
  • Onions: 2 months
  • Peas: 3-5 days
  • Spinach: 3-7 days
  • Tomatoes: 1 week (after ripening in the pantry)
  • Zucchini: 1 week

If you’re thinking that you need to toss your produce once it starts to look a little wonky, Seymour says that’s not necessarily true.

“Many of the signs of spoilage associated with fruits and vegetables are more about quality than food safety. Produce that is bruised, cut, wilted, soft, or has turned color is completely fine. From a food-safety perspective, I don’t recommend eating produce that is visibly moldy or items that have been cut and left at room temperature for long periods of time.”

So, unless you see or smell mold, you can go ahead and eat it.

Unless you’re like, a millionaire you can refresh their produce every couple of days.

Thought that was fascinating? Here’s another story you might like: Why You’ll Never See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium