A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Spoiled rotten: Learn how to store fruits, veggies

assortment of fruits and vegetables, watercolor illustration

Tired of opening the refrigerator to find fruits and veggies you just brought home already are rotten?

Storing produce in the right place will help keep it fresh longer and help you stop wasting money each time you throw away rotten produce.

Keep produce fresh longer

Before you shop for produce, check the chart below to find out how long it’s expected to last. Wait to buy fruits and veggies if you don’t plan to use them in that time period.

“Check out the quality of produce before you leave the grocery store,” Marshfield Clinic dietitian Chrisanne Urban said. “Don’t buy something that’s bruised or discolored.”

printable produce guide previewTips to extend shelf life

  • Store fruits and veggies in separate refrigerator bins if they must be refrigerated.
  • Store produce in vented bags or containers.
  • Ripen produce in a paper bag if needed.
  • Rinse produce with tap water shortly before eating. Never use detergent or bleach. Packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “washed” don’t need to be washed again.
  • Cut fruits and veggies immediately before using. Slicing and dicing too soon shortens the life of your produce.

Some produce can be frozen if it’s near the end of its shelf life. Fruits and veggies with high water content, like watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers and celery, don’t freeze well.

If it’s already spoiled, throw it out, Urban said.

Skip special containers and produce sprays

Special storage containers for produce aren’t necessary to extend their shelf life. Any vented bag or container will work. Avoid products that don’t let air circulate around the produce.

Sprays designed to clean fruits and veggies also aren’t needed. Tap water is all you need to clean produce.

Guide to storing produce

Not sure how long fruits and veggies should last or where to store them?

Download and print this handy guide to storing produce. Keep it in your kitchen for quick reference.

Produce Storage Guide with decorative leaves

Produce Name Where to Store When to Toss
Apples Counter (up to 7 days) then refrigerate 3 weeks
Apricots Fridge 5 days
Asparagus Fridge 3 days
Avocados Counter to ripen (4-7 days) then refrigerate 5 days (once refrigerated)
Bananas Counter 4 days
Basil (in water) Counter 10 days
Beets Fridge 3 weeks
Berries Fridge 2 days – 1 week
Broccoli Fridge 1 week
Brussels sprouts Fridge 1 week
Cabbage Fridge 2 weeks
Carrots Fridge 2 weeks
Cauliflower Fridge 1 week
Celery Fridge 2 weeks
Cherries Fridge 3 days
Citrus fruit Counter 1-2 weeks
Cucumber Counter 3 days
Eggplant Counter 3 days
Garlic Pantry (cool and dry) 2 months
Ginger Counter 3 weeks
Grapes Fridge 1 week
Green beans Fridge 1 week
Green onion Fridge 1 week
Herbs (other than basil) Fridge 3-5 days
Kiwi Counter to ripen (2-3 days) then refrigerate 1 week (once refrigerated)
Leafy greens Fridge 5 days
Mangoes Counter 4 days
Melons Counter 4 days
Mushrooms Fridge 1 week
Nectarines Counter to ripen (2-3 days) then refrigerate 5 days (once refrigerated)
Onions Pantry (cool and dry) 2 months
Peas Fridge 4 days
Peaches Counter to ripen (1-3 days) then refrigerate 5 days (once refrigerated)
Pears Counter to ripen (1-4 days) then refrigerate 1 week (once refrigerated)
Pineapple Counter 5 days
Plums Counter to ripen (2-3 days) then refrigerate 5 days (once refrigerated)
Potatoes Pantry (cool and dry) 3 weeks
Radishes Fridge 2 weeks
Spinach Fridge 3 days
Sprouts Fridge 3 days
Summer squash Fridge 5 days
Sweet corn Fridge 3 days
Sweet potatoes Pantry (cool and dry) 2 weeks
Tomatoes Counter 5 days
Winter squash Counter 1-2 months

Printable Produce Guide (PDF)

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