Your All-In-One Guide to Storing Fresh Produce

by Elle Penner, MPH, RD
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Your All-In-One Guide to Storing Fresh Produce

For those of us who don’t have a green thumb, or the time, space or climate to grow our own fruits and veggies, fresh produce can be expensive. Knowing how to store it at home will not only preserve freshness, flavor and nutrients, but also save you money too!

You’ve probably realized that certain fruits and vegetables fare better on the countertop, while others last longer and taste better coming out of the refrigerator. What you may not know is why. As it turns out, colder is not always better when it comes to food storage. Cold refrigerator temperatures, which usually range from 38° to 42°F (3.3° to 5.6°C), can actually damage some types of produce, and/or prevent them from fully ripening. If you want to see for yourself, put a banana in the refrigerator and see what happens.

To help you get the most out of your fresh produce, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to storing fruits and veggies. Feel free to “pin it” to Pinterest, or print a copy to keep on the refrigerator at home.

produce guide subhead 1


Fruits and vegetables suitable for storage on the countertop or in your pantry typically keep for anywhere from 3-7 days, until fully ripe. Storing produce in a bowl, paper bag or plastic bag with small holes can speed ripening. Whatever you do, don’t keep produce in sealed plastic bags on the countertop. The trapped carbon dioxide and moisture paired with a lack of oxygen increases the likelihood of unpleasant odors and decay.

produce quick tip 2

Refrigerator & Cool Storage

While most countertop-friendly produce is perfectly okay to leave out, fruits and veggies in the fridge have very different needs. Some prefer to be exposed to the air, others in airtight plastic bags or containers, and certain veggies, like mushrooms, like a mix of the two. Just like your children are picky about vegetables, some vegetables can be picky about temperature, preferring a cool 50-60°F basement over a much colder refrigerator. The guide below outlines all of this for you.

produce quick tip 1

produce storage guide infographic


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  • What is a “cool storage”? Is this a special refrigerator?

    • Carolyn

      According to the article, “cool storage” is a 50-60 degree basement (versus a 38-42 degree refrigerator).

      • Argh. Not gonna happen at flat land sea level Houston! Thanks.

    • Joni A

      Basement, a locker in your mud room, etc. Cool area other than your refrigerator.

  • Nice

    • Google

      I’m going to store my “cool storage, well ventilated” in my air conditioner closet. I’ll put in special little shelves. I’m fortunate that I have the room in there!

  • 水野弘美


  • Robb Gouldy

    I use FRESH PRODUCE PACKS they keep my produce fresh up to 2 to 3 weeks longer on average and really fresh . email them at; …They really work!

  • Roberta Silverstein

    I have standardized on Kerr glass jars. I cut up my lettuce (romaine) and keep it in the jars. Easy to store in frig (small footprint) and easy to dump and go.