How to Extend the Life of Fruits and Vegetables

How to Extend the Life of Your Fruits & Veggies

In order to extend the life of fruits and vegetables and save food dollars, proper storage is key. Some produce is best stored in the refrigerator, some is best stored on the kitchen counter for extended shelf life. While writing this article, I picked up a few tips on storing produce. For example, I wasn’t aware that I should be giving my beautiful heirloom tomatoes breathing rooms. Therefore, I should not be stacking them on top of one another.

The following are recommendations from food safety, nutrition and gardening experts. But they are just that–recommendations. Everyone has their own way of doing things, within reason. And some people have good secrets. I’d love to hear your F&V-storing secrets!

Before I get into it, a good general rule of thumb: Try not to wash fruits and veggies before storing them because the moisture will likely hasten spoilage. Rinse them right before cooking or eating them.

How to Extend the Life of Fruits and Vegetables


Store apples on the counter for seven days. Don’t store them close to other fruits or vegetables. The ethylene gases produced by apples can ruin them.

Artichokes, Corn & Eggplant

Keep them refrigerated, storing in a perforated plastic bag to retain moisture.


Store a bunch of asparagus upright in the refrigerator in a plastic bag in an inch of water, or with a damp towel wrapped around the base.


Ripen an avocado in a paper bag on the counter. When it’s fully ripe, store the avocado in a cool, dry place.


Bananas grow in a bunch, are sold in a bunch and are usually stored in a bunch. The bunch storage method will cause the bananas to spoil in a bunch. Un-bunch the bananas by pulling them apart as soon they are purchased and store on the kitchen counter, not allowing the touch one another. When bananas are stored in a bunch, the first bananas to turn brown will cause all the others in the bunch to turn brown also.

Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage & Celery

Store them in the refrigerator crisper and wash right before eating.


Store berries in the refrigerator in their original container. Be sure not to wash them before storing them because they are very susceptible to spoilage.

Broccoli & Cauliflower

Remove them from the plastic bag and loosely wrap the heads of the vegetable in a paper towel. Store them stem side down in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Never wash the vegetables before storing, the moisture will hasten spoilage. Rinse the vegetables right before cooking or eating them.

Citrus Fruits & Melons

Store them in a cool, dry place away from other fruits to avoid absorption of off-flavors. Wash before eating. Store cut citrus in the refrigerator.

Grapes & Cranberries

Keep them refrigerated in a perforated plastic bag. Do not wash until ready to use.

Leafy Green Vegetables, Green Beans & Summer Squash

Leave them in the plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Poke a few holes in the plastic bag so they can breathe to extend their shelf life and prevent the buildup of gasses that will prematurely decompose them.


Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

Nectarines & Peaches

Let peaches ripen on the counter in a paper bag punched with holes, away from sunlight.

Pears & Persimmons

When ripe, store pears and persimmons in the refrigerator. Rinse just before eating.


Store whole peppers in a cool, dry place, away from fruits to avoid over-ripening.


Store them on the kitchen counter, stem side down in a single layer. Don’t stack them. Keep them away from direct sunlight. In the fridge, they may quickly lose flavor and texture. Tomatoes left inside a plastic bag, regardless of what location they are stored in, will not last long. Home garden tomatoes can be harvested before they are fully ripe and placed in a sunny window sill, stem side down, to finish ripening and extend their shelf life.

A final note

When purchasing pre-cut or peeled produce, or after you’ve cut a fruit or vegetable, it’s best to store in the refrigerated to maintain both quality and safety. Make sure your fridge is set at 41F or below :)


For more reading on this topic, check out…




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  • Georgie Fear

    Awesome info- I’ll be saving this post! On the bananas, I do have a trick. I don’t buy them in a bunch – I buy the strays that other people pull off the bunches. You know, the “singles”. When I buy a whole bunch, they all are perfectly rip eon the same day, but we don’t want to eat them all on the same day!

    So I buy staggered ripeness: I get a couple that are ready to eat, 1 or 2 that are a tad greenish, and 1 or two that are very green. Voila! Perfect bananas for about a week. And if any do get over-ripe, I peel and freeze them for smoothies or banana ice cream. :)

    Georgie Fear RD

    • Trish

      Very clever of you, Georgie. Thanks for the tip. And yum to the banana ice cream!

  • Lisa

    I like the mushroom tip! And I had no idea that apples could do such thing. Bad apples! hehe Thanks again for a informative post. I really like the information.

    I also like Georgie’s banana tip! Great idea.

  • A Little Yumminess

    These is great advice. Much needed at our house! :)

  • Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops)

    Always great advice, we buy all our produce at the farmer’s market and my favorite part is hearing them all give advise on how to keep the meats/fruits and vegetables fresh – they have never been wrong.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • Claudia

    Great advice. I learned so much through trial and error.

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  • Nutritioulicious

    Great guide!!

  • Baking Serendipity

    So much awesome and helpful advice here…thank you! I never thought/heard to separate my bananas after purchasing them, but it makes so much sense. I’ve been getting frustrated at how quickly they have been turning this summer, and am definitely going to give your advice a shot!

  • Jeanne @JollyTomato

    This is great info! Lots of stuff I didn’t know before, especially the part about the apples. I made this part of the Friday Food News Wrap on Jolly Tomato: