Tips for Storing Fruits and Vegetables

Nothing beats fresh fruits and veggies … except when they spoil sooner than expected. When it comes to storing fresh produce, there’s no golden rule you can apply to all fruits and vegetables. To help you keep things straight – or should we say perfectly ripe – we gathered some tips to help you extend the shelf life of your produce.  

The 5 variables to storing fruits and vegetables: 

  1. Ethylene (a gas given off by ripening fruits and vegetables) 
  2. Temperature 
  3. Airflow 
  4. Light   
  5. Moisture 

Ethylene Gas  

This gas is nature’s way of signaling it’s time to get ripe. And ethylene gas from one ripening fruit can accelerate the ripening process in other produce nearby. Onions, tomatoes, apples, and bananas are all ethylene super-producers and can cause vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and even squash to ripen before their time. To keep things fresh for as long as possible, keep your ethylene-producing produce away from ethylene-sensitive veggies.  

Learn more about ethylene gas in fruit from Gardening Know How.

Temperature, Airflow, and Light 

Here’s a list of how most fruits and veggies like their accommodations. Keep them happy and you might have fewer trips to the compost bin. 


  • Apples, oranges, grapefruits, and berries last longer when stored in the fridge.  
  • Root veggies like beets, carrots, turnips, and parsnips, as well as cabbage, broccoli, and leafy greens are best kept in a fridge’s crisper drawer. 
  • Avocados, lemons, limes, pears, and mangoes can ripen on the counter and then be transferred to the fridge. 

Comfy on the Counter 

  • Bananas should live on the counter away from sunlight – and other produce! Remember, bananas are ethylene super-producers ready to ripen your whole fruit bowl. 
  • Tomatoes – also ethylene powerhouses – like to ripen at room temperature. Temperatures below 60 degrees cause tomatoes to turn mealy. 

Best Kept Cool & Dry 

  • Winter squash, onions, garlic, and potatoes can also be left at room temperature in a cool and dry area. Potatoes prefer to be left in the dark, and they will go green if overly exposed to sunlight. 

Take a deeper dive into fruit and vegetable storage with Spruce Eats.

Moisture Control  

Excess moisture can cause most fruits and veggies to spoil prematurely. To prevent this, make sure produce is dried thoroughly before storing. 

  • Avoid pre-washing leafy greens. But if you must, wrap dried leaves in a clean towel to absorb excess moisture and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge.  
  • Trim the heads off your root veggies. Leaves draw moisture out of the vegetable, making it wilt quicker.  
  • Store washed and dried berries in the fridge in an air-tight container. Most fruits do not like to be contained, but berries are fickle! And they can be delicate too. It’s helpful to give them space by using flat containers with an abundance of surface area.  
  • Storing cut vegetables, like carrots, celery, potatoes, and apples, in water can help prolong their freshness.  

Keep an Eye on Your Produce 

Even with the best storage practices, one bad apple can spoil the bag. But if one part of your produce goes bad, don’t throw the whole lot away! Remove what’s spoiled as soon as possible and monitor the rest until it’s time to enjoy. 


Bring Home More Fruits & Veggies with Double Up Food Bucks!

Now that you’re equipped with some key fruit and vegetable storage tips, you’re even more ready to Double Up. Find a participating location near you and bring home even more fruits and veggies with your Bridge/EBT card and Double Up Food Bucks. 


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