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How to Store Produce

Here Are the Best Ways to Store Produce

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It can be easy to let fruits, veggies, and herbs go bad quickly. We've all been guilty of getting a wonderful piece of fresh produce only to forget about it and find it spoiled in the fridge. Whether it's your fruits and vegetables ripening too fast or your produce just straight up rotting after a day or two, food storage can be a head scratcher. To make things easier, we've compiled a list of tips and hacks for picking great produce, storing it, and knowing when to toss it. You'll never have to deal with a produce-storage headache again.

How to Store Potatoes

  • What to do first: check for any soft spots, moldy patches, sprouting, and significant bruising or damage. If the potato appears to have any of the above, throw it away.
  • Best storing tip: potatoes can last for weeks or even months when stored properly. Store your potatoes in a dark, cool area and place them in a cardboard box, a mesh bag, or by themselves to maintain a good shelf life.
  • Discard after: the potatoes are shrunken, wrinkled, and/or soft. At this point, they're starting to go bad and could spoil the perfectly nice potatoes you still have.

How to Store Onions

  • What to Do First: check for any signs of leaks, moldy patches, soft spots, etc.
  • Best Storing Tip: because onions contain a decent amount of moisture, it's important to give them proper air exposure to prevent molding. Onions are best stored in a dark, dry place at room temperature in either an open brown paper bag or a mesh bag.
  • Discard After: the onions form dark spots or mold, as well as sprouts.

How to Store Cut Onions

  • What to do first: peel back the other layers of the onion and cut according to your preference. Store immediately after cutting.
  • Best storing tip: once you've cut your onions, it's best to wrap them in a paper towel and place them in an airtight container to maintain freshness.
  • Discard after: 7 to 10 days after storing. Once the onions are lacking in flavor or become slimy, throw away.

How to Store Avocado

  • What to do first: check the avocado(s) for soft spots. Evaluate its ripeness by gently pushing into it. If it's slightly soft but firm to the touch, it is ripe and ready to eat. If it's hard and doesn't give to pressure, it's still unripe.
  • Best storing tip: your refrigerator will do just fine for ripe avocados. A whole ripe avocado will last approximately 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Discard after: the avocado becomes completely soft and mushy, and it's gray/brown when you cut into it.

How to Store Cut Avocado

  • What to do first: Determine the ripeness of the avocados. If ripe, feel free to start cutting. If not, wait a couple of days for the avocado to ripen before cutting.
  • Best storing tip: due to oxidation, avocados are prone to browning once they're cut open. For best storage, cut the avocado in half, sprinkle with lemon or lime juice, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. The acid from the citrus will halt the browning process.
  • Discard after: the avocado is flavorless and/or gray or brown in color.

How to Store Garlic

  • What to do first: check for any black, moldy spots and sprouting, and ensure the garlic bulbs are firm.
  • Best storing tip: store the garlic in a cool, dry, and dark place. When stored like this, garlic can last approximately six months.
  • Discard after: the garlic shows any kind of green sprouting or bruising.

How to Store Cilantro

  • What to do first: check for any signs of spoilage or wilting. Look for bright-green leaves and sturdy stems.
  • Best storing tip: unfortunately, cilantro doesn't have a long shelf life. For best storage, place the cilantro in a small container filled with a couple inches of water. The stems should be slightly submerged. Once the cilantro is in the container, wrap the top (including the cilantro) in a plastic bag.
  • Discard after: the leaves and stems start to wilt and brown.

How to Store Strawberries

  • What to do first: check for any soft, dark, and moldy spots. Look for colorful red strawberries. If there are bright-green spots, they aren't ripe yet.
  • Best storing tip: strawberries are best stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator wrapped in paper towels. The paper towels help absorb any moisture the fruit gives off.
  • Discard After: the strawberries are dark, soft, and grow mold.

How to Store Green Onions

  • What to do first: check for dark green or brown parts.
  • Best storing tip: similar to cilantro, green onions are best stored in the refrigerator. They can be stored two different ways: in a container with a few inches of water and wrapped in a plastic bag, or with a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. Either will preserve freshness.
  • Discard after: the green onions are wilted or brown in appearance.

How to Store Mushrooms

  • What to do first: check for mushy and moldy spots on the mushrooms.
  • Best storing tip: mushrooms don't stay fresh for long, so it's best to buy them only if you plan on using them ASAP. Wipe the inside and outside of the mushrooms with a slightly damp paper towel, then store them with a fresh, dry paper towel in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
  • Discard after: the mushrooms are slimy, have dark spots, and are wrinkled.

How to Store Tomatoes

  • What to do first: check your tomatoes for any soft, browned, or wrinkled spots.
  • Best storing tip: for ripe tomatoes, the refrigerator is your friend. The temperature of the fridge helps keep the tomatoes from over-ripening. For under-ripe tomatoes, store at room temperature away from sunlight.
  • Discard after: tomatoes are shriveled, soft, and brown in spots.

How to Store Cut Tomatoes

  • What to do first: thoroughly wash and dry your tomatoes. Cut in quarters or halves.
  • Best storing tip: cut tomatoes can lose their flavor soon after you cut them, so it's best to eat them as soon as possible. When storing cut tomatoes, place them in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last between 2 to 3 days.
  • Discard after: the tomatoes lose flavor, are slimy, and develop a dry film on the flesh.

How to Store Asparagus

  • What to do first: check for cracked, dry stems before buying. The asparagus should be bright green at the stem and have smooth skin.
  • Best storing tip: if you aren't using asparagus the day you buy it, trim the ends, then store it standing up in a small container with a few inches of water in the refrigerator. You can also store asparagus in a plastic bag with damp paper towels.
  • Discard after: the asparagus is dried out and has browned and cracked at the stem.

How to Store Cucumbers

  • What to do first: check for soft, brown, and/or moldy spots. Thoroughly wash the cucumbers to get rid of any dirt. Dry them completely.
  • Best Storing Tip: wrap the cucumbers in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Discard After: the cucumbers are mushy, discolored, and/or moldy.

How to Store Fresh Basil

  • What to do first: check leaves for any wilting or browning.
  • Best storing tip: like other herbs, basil can be stored in a container with a few inches of water in the refrigerator and wrapped in a plastic bag. You can also store basil by wrapping the leaves in a single layer on a paper towel and putting them in a plastic bag.
  • Discard after: the basil is slimy, wilted, and brown.

How to Store Apples

  • What to do first: check for bruises, brown sports, or mushy areas on the apple. If those are present, throw it (and any others) away. One bad apple can ruin the whole bunch.
  • Best storing tip: apples are best stored in cool, dry places. To get the maximum amount of life out of your apples, store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the apples in newspaper and store them in a place away from sunlight, such as a pantry or closet.
  • Discard After: the apples show signs of rotting, such as moldy, soft, or brown spots.

How to Store Carrots

  • What to do first: check for any discoloration and weird smells.
  • Best storing tip: leave the carrots unpeeled and unwashed until you plan on using/eating them. Wrap them in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag or container to keep fresh.
  • Discard after: the carrots start to smell, become discolored, or are slimy.

How to Store Celery

  • What to do first: check the celery stalks for any browning or cracking. Fresh celery should be bright green in color, with smooth skin.
  • Best storing tip: leaving the ends slightly open, wrap the celery in aluminum foil and place in your crisper drawer.
  • Discard after: the celery is dry, cracked, brown, and flavorless.

How to Store Bananas

  • What to do first: check for any excessive browning or bruising. A few brown spots are perfectly fine and actually indicate that your fruit is nice and ripe.
  • Best storing tip: bananas don't fare well in extreme temperatures, so it's best to store them in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from avocados, apples, tomatoes, etc., as those fruits produce ethylene gas, which can accelerate ripening.
  • Discard after: the banana skin is mostly dark brown and nearly black, soft, and/or moldy.

How to Store Corn on the Cob

  • What to do first: check for bright-yellow corn kernels under the husks.
  • Best storing tip: store the corn on the cob in the refrigerator with the husks on and in a plastic bag until you're ready to cook it.
  • Discard after: the corn is slimy, moldy, and has a bad smell.

How to Store Eggplant

  • What to do first: check for any soft spots or molding. A good eggplant should feel firm but give slightly when squeezed.
  • Best storing tip: eggplants are best stored at room temperature in an open brown paper bag. You can also wrap eggplants in a paper towel and put them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Discard after: the eggplant skin is wrinkled and there are significant soft/mushy spots on it.

How to Store Grapes

  • What to do first: check for significant softening and any signs of mold.
  • Best storing Tip: store grapes in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator in the plastic bag they come in, as the holes in the bag are great for providing the fruit with ventilation.
  • Discard after: the grapes are discolored, soft, leaky, and/or moldy.

How to Store Lemons

  • What to do first: check for browning or bruising. Fresh lemons should be bright yellow in color and firm with a slight give when you squeeze them.
  • Best storing tip: lemons are best stored in the refrigerator. You can store them on a shelf or in your crisper drawer.
  • Discard after: the lemon is discolored, the skin is wrinkled, and the fruit itself is hard.

How to Store Peaches

  • What to do first: check for soft, mushy, or brown spots.
  • Best storing tip: peaches are fine if kept at room temperature. Be sure to keep your peaches from touching, as this can hasten the ripening process. They can also be stored in a loose brown paper bag.
  • Discard after: the peaches are discolored, leaky, soft, and/or moldy.

How to Store Radishes

  • What to do first: check if there's any softness or moisture coming from the radish. If there is, toss it.
  • Best storing tip: radishes can be stored both on the counter and in the refrigerator, depending on when you want to eat them. If you plan on eating them right away, radishes can be stored on the counter at room temperature in a bowl of cold water. In the fridge, store the radishes by trimming the roots, wrapping them in a damp paper towel, and placing them in a plastic bag.
  • Discard after: the radishes are soft and their leaves are brown and wilted.

How to Store Zucchini

  • What to do first: check for any soft, discolored spots. Fresh zucchini should be bright and dark green in color.
  • Best storing tip: zucchini is best stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. If it starts to lose any moisture, pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Discard after: the zucchini is mushy, moldy, or discolored.

How to Store Beets

  • What to do first: check for signs of spoilage, such as soft spots and mold.
  • Best storing tip: cut the green leaves/stems of the beet off first, as the leafy parts can actually hasten their ripening. Place the beets in an airtight plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of your fridge until ready to eat.
  • Discard after: the beets look shriveled in appearance and are soft and mushy to the touch.

How to Store Blueberries

  • What to do first: sift through your container of blueberries and toss any that are moldy or shriveled. Spoiled blueberries can ruin the others in your package.
  • Best storing tip: storing blueberries is simple. Don't wash them until you're ready to eat them, and keep them in the container you bought them in. Place them on the shelf in your fridge so they get proper ventilation.
  • Discard after: the blueberries show any signs of spoilage, like mold or softness.

How to Store Broccoli

  • What to do first: check for any browning or yellowing. The perfect head of broccoli should have bright-green stalks and dark-green crowns.
  • Best storing tip: store broccoli in an unsealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for the best freshness.
  • Discard after: the broccoli changes in color, has a foul smell, or is soft/slimy.

How to Store Kale

  • What to do first: Check for any brown or wilted leaves.
  • Best storing tip: Kale can be stored in whole bunches or separated. For either, wrap the leaves in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Discard after: the kale is brown, wilted, and slimy in texture.

How to Store Lettuce

  • What to do first: thoroughly wash and dry your lettuce (even if it's prewashed). A salad spinner is great for this, but if you don't have one, paper towels work just fine.
  • Best storing tip: wrap your washed lettuce in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Discard after: the lettuce is slimy and the leaves are browned.

How to Store Parsley

  • What to do first: check for any discolored or wilted leaves. Wash and dry the parsley before storing it.
  • Best storing tip: parsley is best stored wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • Discard After: the leaves start to wilt and become slimy or discolored.

How to Store Bell Peppers

  • What to do first: check for bruising, damage, or wrinkled skin.
  • Best storing tip: the best way to store peppers is by leaving them whole and in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can either leave them in the drawer by themselves or place them in a mesh bag.
  • Discard after: the skin of the peppers is no longer smooth and looks wrinkled, or if the peppers are leaky/moldy.

How to Store Cabbage

  • What to do first: check for any signs of molding, such as dark spots or foul smells.
  • Best storing tip: cabbage can be stored in a couple of different ways. You can either slice the cabbage in quarters and wrap them in plastic wrap, or do the same but in plastic sealable bags. Be sure to let out as much air as possible.
  • Discard after: the leaves are brown and wilted, and the cabbage has a foul, spoiled smell.

How to Store Cherries

  • What to do first: sort through your package of cherries for any mushy dark ones.
  • Best storing tip: cherries are best stored unwashed, with the stems, in a cool, dark place. You can store the cherries in a bowl or on a baking sheet — just be sure to check regularly for any bad ones.
  • Discard after: the cherries are mushy and/or moldy.

How to Store Kiwi

  • What to do first: check for wrinkled skin and any blemishes. A good kiwi will have slightly bumpy skin and be firm but slightly soft to the touch.
  • Best storing tip: for ripe kiwis, store in the refrigerator away from ethylene-producing fruits and veggies. For unripe kiwis, store at room temperature on the counter.
  • Discard After: the kiwis are soft, wrinkled, and/or moldy.

How to Store Mangoes

  • What to do first: eetermine the ripeness of the mango. A ripe mango should be bright orange, red, and yellow in color and have a firm yet soft touch when squeezed.
  • Best storing tip: ripe mangoes can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately one week. Unripe mangoes can be placed in a paper bag at room temperature.
  • Discard after: the mango starts to have black spots (both on the skin and inside the fruit) or smells sour.

How to Store Oranges

  • What to do first: check for any bruising or brown spots on the skin of the orange.
  • Best Storing Tip: oranges are best stored in a mesh bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They can be kept out at room temperature, but they won't last as long.
  • Discard after: the oranges have brown spots, are especially hard to the touch, and show signs of molding.

How to Store Spinach

  • What to do first: check for wilted, dark, and slimy leaves.
  • Best storing tip: spinach can spoil quickly if there is too much moisture. To maintain freshness, wrap the spinach in paper towels and place in a plastic bag/container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Discard after: the leaves are wilted, dark, slimy, and smell bad.

How to Store Cauliflower

  • What to do first: check for brown spots, dull coloration, and crumbling buds.
  • Best storing tip: similar to broccoli, cauliflower is best stored in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Be sure not to wash until you are ready to cook it, as moisture can hasten its spoilage.
  • Discard after: the cauliflower is brown, discolored, and foul in smell.

How to Store Green Beans

  • What to do first: check for discoloration, soft spots, and a bad smell.
  • Best storing tip: for optimal storage, place the green beans in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any moisture and put in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.
  • Discard after: the green beans have black/moldy spots.

How to Store Scallions

  • What to do first: look for signs of browning, wilted stems, and slimy textures.
  • Best storing tip: like its herbaceous counterparts, scallions are best stored in the refrigerator in either a container with a few inches of water and wrapped in a plastic bag, or in a plastic bag with paper towels.
  • Discard after: the scallions are slimy, discolored, and wilted.
Image Source: Pexels / Oleg Magni
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