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Guide to Storing Fruits and Veggies

How many of us have stocked up on a bevy of fruits and vegetables, determined to make our diets healthier or to provide our kids with better options for snacks, only to have half of our selections turn brown, get mushy, or grow mold before we have the chance to consume them?

Storing fruits and vegetables so that they last as long as possible can be a tricky proposition, especially since what’s good for one kind of fruit or veggie isn’t necessarily good for another. However, with the burgeoning price of fresh fruit and vegetables and the importance of including them in our diet, it’s a good idea to learn how to store these items so that we can buy them in quantity and avoid running to the store every other day to stock up on these healthy goodies.

Truly, there’s no tried-and-true rule when it comes to storing produce. Because produce items are so different from one another, their individual characteristics govern whether or not they’ll get brown or if you can store them for weeks without consequence. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly purchased fruits and vegetables and how to properly store them for long life.

Apples – A favorite fruit and one that can be purchased all year long, apples are one of those fruits that last longer than most. If you have just a few that you plan to eat or use in a recipe shortly, just place them in a ventilated bag in your refrigerator’s produce drawer. If you’ve got a large quantity that need storing, wrap them individually in newspaper and place them in a cool, dark, and dry place in a single layer.

Oranges – Oranges don’t need to be placed in a refrigerator. They can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, but take them out of the plastic bag. If you prefer to eat them cold, they can be refrigerated but will most likely be less juicy as a result. In the refrigerator, they should last about a month.

Lemons – Many cooks use lemons in recipes or as a garnish and often buy an entire bag at a time. Generally, lemons can be stored in the fruit drawer for about a month. Periodically check for mold as one moldy lemon will result in a bag of moldy lemons. Outside of the refrigerator, they’ll last about a week.

Bananas – This popular fruit turns brown because of oxidation. Some people love brown, spotted bananas while others only eat them when they’re yellow or slightly green. Refrigeration will darken the skin more quickly so it’s best not to refrigerate them. Also, they’re rather aromatic and other fruits places in a drawer with bananas tend to take on their smell. So, just keep them on your kitchen counter.

Melons – Place already ripe melons in a cool location at room temperature. If you prefer to eat them cold, wrap them in plastic wrap before placing them in the refrigerator and keep them separate from other fruits. If you need to ripen them, simply place them on your kitchen counter.

Lettuce – Each day, remains of a head of lettuce lay rotting in refrigerators worldwide! If you’re not going to use your lettuce in a few days, be sure to keep it fresh by removing the core (for iceberg and other cored lettuces) and then rinse it, drain it, and dry it with paper towels. Once it’s clean, grab some dry paper towels, wrap the lettuce, and place it in an airtight plastic storage bag in the veggie crisper.

Onions – Onions should not be kept in the refrigerator, where they will get soft, but should be stored in a cool, dry place where they will likely last up to a month. For best results, remove them from the plastic bag or they will sprout. Instead, put them in an open paper bag or a basket.

Tomatoes – Any variety of tomatoes will stay fresh for up to a week or so in the veggie drawer of the refrigerator. However, if they need to ripen, place them in a closed paper bag for best results but remember to check them after a few days and move them to the refrigerator once ripened.