Food & Vegetable Storage Tips

Artichokes: Put in plastic bags with a little sprinkle of water (not too much water or the artichokes will get moldy,) and store them in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator so they won't dehydrate. If an artichoke looks a bit dehydrated just cut the brown part off the bottom of the stem and put the artichoke in a bowl of water. Artichokes will keep about a week in the high-humidity bin of your refrigerator.

Asparagus: Cut off an inch from the bottom, wrap the fresh-cut areas in wet paper toweling, place in a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator crisper drawer. This will increase the storage life beyond the normal recommended storage time of three or four days, although the flavor will gradually deteriorate.

Bell Peppers: They like cool not cold temperatures, ideally about 45°F to 50°F with good humidity. Peppers are ethylene sensitive, so they should not be stored near ethylene-producing food such as pears or apples. Put peppers in plastic bags and they will keep up to five days in the refrigerator. Green peppers will keep slightly longer than the other, more ripe, varieties.

Broccoli: Store broccoli in the high-humidity vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to three days.

Cabbage: Head cabbage stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator's humid vegetable bin will last at least a week. Savoy and Napa cabbages should be consumed within three or four days. Kohlrabi globes will last a few weeks in the refrigerator, but the leaves are more perishable and should be used within a few days.

Carrots: Remove their green tops, rinse, drain, and put the carrots in plastic bags and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator with the highest humidity. They'll last several months this way. To keep the carrots crisp and colorful add a little bit of water in the bottom of the plastic storage bag; this will keep the carrots hydrated. Carrots should be stored away from fruits such as apples and pears, which release the ethylene gas that cause carrots to become bitter.

Cauliflower: Place in a plastic bag and store in your refrigerator crisper. When stored properly, cauliflower will last up to five days; however, it is best when eaten within three days.

Celery: To store celery, trim the base and remove any leaves or ribs that are damaged or bruised. Rinse, place in a plastic bag, and keep in the refrigerator's humid vegetable bin, and it will last about two weeks. Be sure to keep celery away from the coldest sections of your refrigerator (the back and side walls), since celery freezes easily. Frozen celery stalks will be limp and watery when thawed. As with carrots, sprinkle or add water to the plastic bag to maintain the freshness of the celery. Cut celery (unwashed), stored in well-sealed plastic bags, will last about three days. Celery can be stored refrigerated in a plastic bag for 7-10 days.

Corn: Refrigerate your corn in the high humidity storage bin as soon as you get home. It is best to refrigerate corn with the husks attached to keep it moist, but if the corn has already been husked, partially or fully, refrigerate it in a perforated plastic bag.

Cucumbers: Store in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator at a temperature between 45°F and 50°F for up to a week.

Eggplant: Does not like severe cold, so the front part of the refrigerator where the temperature is around 46°F to 54°F is ideal for storage. Eggplant is ethylene sensitive, so store it away from ethylene-producing produce such as apples. If kept in a plastic bag (to retain moisture,) eggplants will last up to five days.

Green Onions: Store green onions/scallions & leeks away from odor-sensitive foods such as corn and mushrooms, which will absorb the odor of the onions. Remove any rubber bands and any damaged leaves and store in plastic bags in the crisper section of the refrigerator. They'll both last up to five days.

Green Beans: Place green beans in a perforated plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator crisper. Although they will keep longer, up to 5 days, enjoy them within 2-3 days.

Garlic: Stored under optimum conditions in a dark, cool, dry place with plenty of ventilation, garlic will last from several weeks to one year. Ideally, try to use fresh garlic within a few weeks and do not refrigerate unless the garlic has been peeled or chopped.

Mushrooms: Paper bags are commonly recommended for storing mushrooms. The paper bag will absorb moisture from the mushrooms, so consider putting the paper bag in a larger perforated plastic bag. This two-bag system will allow the mushrooms to breathe but not go dry. Store mushrooms on the refrigerator shelf, and not necessarily in the vegetable crisper drawer. Mushrooms absorb odors like a sponge, so keep them away from foods with strong aromas. Properly stored mushrooms should last several days. Don't clean or chop mushrooms until you're ready to use them.

Onions: Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated place, in single layers. Choose and store pearl and boiler onions in a similar fashion. If the onions at home show signs of sprouting, cut away the sprouts and use them immediately.

Potatoes: Potatoes like cool (45°F to 50°F) humid (but not wet) surroundings, but refrigeration can turn the starch in the potatoes to sugar and may tend to darken them when cooked. Store in burlap, brown paper, or perforated plastic bags away from light, in the coolest, non-refrigerated, and well-ventilated part of the house. Under ideal conditions they can last up to three months this way, but more realistically, figure three to five weeks. New potatoes should be used within one week of purchase. Don't store onions and potatoes together, as the gases they each give off, will cause the other to decay.

Radishes: When you buy radishes with the greens still intact, immediately separate the two when you get home. Radishes will last up to two weeks inside a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator, but greens have a much shorter shelf life… only a few days. Keep both well chilled.

Salad Greens: Lettuce will perish quickly if not stored properly. Lettuces like moisture and cool temperatures, so store lettuce in perforated plastic bags wrapped in damp paper towels, and keep in the refrigerator vegetable crisper.

Spinach: When you get bunched spinach home, untie it, remove any blemished leaves, trim off the stems, and wash it thoroughly in cold water. Repeat if necessary until you're sure all the grit is gone. Spin dry in a salad spinner or drain well, then put into clean plastic bags very loosely wrapped with paper towels. It will last only two to three days, so plan on eating your rinsed spinach right away. Cold, moist surroundings, as low as 32°F and about 95% humidity are the best for storing spinach.

Summer Squash: Summer squash should be kept cool but not cold, about 41° F to 50° F with good humidity. Uncut melons in plastic bags will last several days in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potatoes: Store Sweet Potatoes between 55°F and 65°F in a dark, dry, cool place, for up to one month, or use within one week if stored at room temperature. If refrigerated, their natural sugar will turn to starch and ruin the flavor.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes should never be refrigerated until they (1) have been cooked, (2) have been cut or put into a raw dish like a salsa, or (3) are fully ripe and would spoil if left further at room temperature. Place tomatoes stem end up, and don't put them on a sunny windowsill to hasten ripening. Instead, put tomatoes in a sealed paper bag with or without ethylene-producing fruit such as bananas. Ripe tomatoes will hold at room temperature for two or three days. Ripe tomatoes you've refrigerated to keep from spoiling will taste better if you bring them to room temperature before eating.

Winter Squash: Winter squash should not be refrigerated unless cut. Stored at 50°F to 55°F away from light in a well ventilated spot with low humidity, it will keep for up to three months. Cut squash will keep about one week when wrapped tightly and refrigerated.

Produce storage tips provided by Tony Tantillo, The Fresh Grocer.

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