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Waste-Less Tips for Storing Produce

JBF Editors

September 01, 2015

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What category of food do you end up throwing out the most? If it’s produce, you’re definitely not alone. The average household ends up throwing out 22 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables they buy—that’s more than two of every ten strawberries! If you want to ensure you’ll eat all that healthy produce before it goes bad, it helps to know how long it will last and where to store it for maximum shelf life. To help, Sustainable America created the handy produce storage cheat sheet below that you can print, hang on your fridge, and consult when you’re unpacking your groceries. First, a few general tips:

  • Most fruits ripen best at room temperature. Once ripe, store fruit in the refrigerator in a plastic bag according to the times in the chart. 
  • Berries, cherries, grapes, and figs need to be refrigerated immediately. Discard any moldy berries before refrigerating and store loosely in a shallow container covered with plastic wrap.
  • For vegetables, remove or loosen tight bands and store in plastic bags, unless otherwise noted in the chart below.
  • Separate root vegetables (radishes, beets, turnips, etc.) from their greens and store each separately in plastic bags. Most greens from root vegetables will stay fresh about 3 days.
  • In general, avoid washing fruits or vegetables until ready to eat. However, if having a bowl of already cleaned lettuce in the fridge helps you use it up more quickly, do what works for you. Once washed, dry thoroughly and store in an airtight container lined with paper towels.
  • Some fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which hastens the ripening of certain other produce items. It’s a good practice to store these ethylene emitters away from everything else: apples, apricots, avocados, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, unripe bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes.

Finally, make sure to consult this handy chart! For more waste-less ideas, download Sustainable America's meal-planning guide and visit ivaluefood.org.

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