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There are PLENTY ways to keep your vegetables and fruits fresh for longer, without plastic.
Learning some tips on storing your food correctly will save food from going to the landfill, save money and lower your carbon footprint!
Keep reading to find out how to store & keep fresh 45 different vegetables and 17 fruits.
In the end, you can also find:
- Additional tips on how to store vegetables and fruits without plastic
- Benefits of storing your vegetables and fruits properly
- The best containers to store your produce without plastic
Now, let’s begin.
*The two lists are in alphabetical order.
How To Keep Vegetables Fresh Longer:
- Artichokes: Keep them refrigerated and sealed, in an airtight container, with light moisture (sprinkled with a bit of water) for 5-7 days. You can keep cooked artichoke in the fridge for several days. You can freeze cooked artichokes.
- Asparagus: Stand the asparagus up in a glass with 1-2 inches of water at room temperature. It can last 1 week inside or outside the fridge. Cooked asparagus will last 3-5 days. For freezing, blanch for 3-5 minutes, drain and place in an airtight container.
- Avocados: If ripe, place them in the refrigerator to keep fresh for 2-3 days. If it isn’t quite mature, leave it out on your countertop. Place the avocado with an apple in a paper bag to speed up the ripening. You can freeze it as halves or mashed in a silicone bag.
- Arugula: Refrigerate and keep dry for up to 2 weeks. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel, and absorb any extra moisture. To freeze, drop into boiling water for 2 minutes, cool immediately in ice water, drain and place in freezer bags.
- Basil: Basil does not like the cold or being wet. To keep basil fresh, trim the stems, place it in a glass of water, and leave it on the counter at room temperature. It will last 5-9 days. To freeze – steam basil & pat dry and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Beans (Legumes): Store dry legumes in air-tight jars for 2-3 years, in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Once cooked, refrigerate for 3-5 days. You can freeze cooked legumes in air-tied jars (leave a tiny bit of space on the top).
- Beets: Cut the tops off to keep the flavor & firmness. Refrigeration will last for 10-14 days. Then, wash them, and keep them in an open container with a slightly wet fabric towel. For freezing, it’s best to cook the beets until tender.
- Beet greens: Wrap in a dry towel and store in an airtight container, refrigerated for 4-5 days. Wash just before consuming. To freeze, blanch for 2 minutes, drain, and then pack in an airtight container or silicone baggies.
- Broccoli: Place unwashed in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp fabric towel before placing it in the refrigerator for up to 6-7 days. Cooked broccoli will last 4-5 days in the fridge. Ford resizing, blanch first.
- Brussels sprouts: Keep in the fridge in an open container with a slightly wet fabric towel on top for 3-4 days. If cooked, they can last ~ 3 days refrigerated. Blanch for 3-5 minutes if you want to freeze them.
- Carrots: Cut the tops to keep them fresh and place them in a closed container dunked in cold water. Change the water every couple of days to store them for longer. They will last 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Blanch before freezing.
- Cabbage: Keep it on a cool counter (lasts ~1 week) or in the fridge (lasts ~2 weeks). If you cut a piece from it, use the rest in 7-8 days. Cooked cabbage will stay fresh for up to 5 days. After that, you can freeze it raw (shredded!) or blanched.
- Cauliflower: Wrap unwashed cauliflower in a damp cloth towel and put it in a closed container, in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. To freeze, blanch it first.
- Celery root: Don’t peel or wash it. Loosely wrap in a damp fabric towel and keep in the fridge for 10 to 14 days. To freeze, blanch it first for 4-5 minutes.
- Celery: Store in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, wrap in aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. Blanching isn’t necessary for freezing, but the result will be more flavorful and last up to a year.
- Corn: It’s best to eat corn the day you picked/buy it. Refrigerate it and store it in their husks for 3-5 days. If you don’t plan on eating it within 3 days — freeze it (first blanch to preserve the taste and texture).
- Cucumber: Will last 1-2 weeks at cool room temperature or in the fridge, wrapped in a moist towel. You can freeze whole fresh cucumbers.
- Eggplant: To store it for longer, refrigerate it and use it within 5-7 days. Don’t wash it since eggplants don’t like any extra moisture. You can blanch or steam eggplant and then freeze it.
- Fennel: Keep it on the counter, upright in a glass with water. To keep it longer, place it in the fridge in a closed container with a bit of water. It will last 7-10 days. Freeze raw or cooked in sealed bags or containers.
- Fava beans: Place unshelled fava beans in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and eat within 10 days. Dried-shelled fava beans can be stored in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months. You can freeze raw or blanched fava beans.
- Garlic: Store in a cool, dry, dark place for 3-5 months. Individual unpeeled garlic cloves can last for 7-10 days in the pantry. Mince leftover garlic and store refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Green garlic: Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can also stick the green garlic in a tall glass with water in the bottom.
- Greens: Most greens must be in an airtight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out for 5-7 days. Kale, collards, and chard are doing well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge. You can freeze most greens, either raw or blanched.
- Green beans: Store unwashed fresh beans in a reusable container in the refrigerator for 7 days. You can use a damp cloth over an open or loosely closed container. Before freezing, rinse, drain, and cut the beans’ ends.
- Lettuce: Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days. You can also wash, and spin them dry, then wrap them in a fabric towel. Head lettuce will last longer – from 1 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Leeks: Do not wash, trim, or cut leeks before storing. Leave it in an open container in the fridge, wrapped in a damp cloth or a shallow cup of water on the counter for 10-14 days. Blanch before freezing.
- Onion: Store in a cool, dark, and dry place for 6-8 weeks. Store peeled and sliced onions in the fridge in an airtight container for 10-14 days. To freeze, wash, peel and chop raw onions.
Note: Don’t keep potatoes (or tomatoes & bananas) near onions, as gases from the onions can hasten to sprout in potatoes and make other veggies or fruits go bad faster.
- Okra: Use a dry towel in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Eating it right after purchase is best since it doesn’t store that well.
- Parsnips: Keep in an open container or wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge for 2 weeks. Cooked parsnips may be refrigerated and used for 3 days. You can freeze raw or blanched parsnips.
- Potatoes: Store in cool, dark, and dry places from a few weeks to 1-2 months. Exposure to light or moisture can bring on rotting in the skin. You can store potatoes in a cotton or paper bag, too. It’s best to cook them before freezing for the long term.
Note: Don’t store potatoes near onions, bananas, or other fruit — this will encourage them to sprout faster.
- Radishes: Store them in the fridge in an open container, with a wet towel on top, for 10-14 days. Remove the greens (store them separately), so they don’t draw excess moisture from the roots.
- Radicchio: Store unwashed radicchio in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top for 3-5 days.
- Rhubarb: Wrap in a damp towel and place it in an open container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Wash it just before you plan to eat it. Blanch before freezing.
- Rutabagas: Keep them in a cool, dark place for months or in a closed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
- Spinach: Store loose in the fridge, in an open container for 7-10 days. Keep the spinach as dry as possible. A trick that can help is to put dry paper towels around the container and spinach to collect extra moisture. You can freeze it with or without blanching.
- Snap peas: Refrigerate in an open container (unwashed) for 3-5 days. Blanch before freezing.
- Spring onions: Keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. To keep it fresh for longer, fill a tall glass with 2 inches of water and place the roots of the onions. Change the water every few days.
- Summer squash: Refrigerate it unwashed in a vegetable drawer for 3-5 days. You can freeze it raw or blanched.
- Sweet peppers: Store in a cold place for a few days. For more extended storage, keep it in the fridge for 5 days. Wash them before you plan to eat them. Freeze raw or steamed till firm.
- Sweet potatoes: Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place for a few weeks and up to a month. Never refrigerate ‐ sweet potatoes don’t like the cold. Bake or steam sweet potatoes before freezing.
- Tomatoes: Never refrigerate unripe tomatoes. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay on the counter for up to 2 weeks. If ripe – store in the fridge.
- Green Tomatoes: Store in a chilly place away from the sun for up to 2 weeks. Use quickly, or they will begin to color. To hasten ripeness, place in a paper bag with an apple.
- Turnips: Store in an open container with a moist cloth, refrigerated for 3-4 weeks. Also, remove the greens (store separately). It’s best to blanch before freezing.
- Winter squash (Pumpkin): Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place for 1-3 months. You can also keep it in the fridge, but it’s unnecessary. Chopped or sliced (raw) will last 2-5 days. Cooked – about 4 days.
- Zucchini: Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for 5-7 days. Don’t wash or cut up the zucchini until ready to use. Wash and cut into chunks before freezing.
How To Keep Fruits Fresh Longer:
- Apples: In a cold counter or shelf for up to 2 weeks. For extended storage, place them in the fridge for up to a month. Freeze whole raw (or cooked) apples, or cut them into smaller pieces.
- Apricots: Store on a chilled counter for up to 5 days or in the fridge if ripe for 7 days. Once mature, you can transfer the apricots to the refrigerator and eat them in 2-3 days. To freeze, remove the pit, and place it in airtight silicone baggies.
- Bananas: Keep unripe bananas at room temperature on the counter. Once fully ripe, place ripe bananas in the fridge. Peel raw bananas and freeze (chopped or whole) in a container.
Note: Store away from ethylene-sensitive produce like apples and potatoes.
- Berries: Place your berries in a paper bag, and only wash them before eating them. Since they are fragile, give the berries some space. They tend to spoil quickly when they’re smashed up against each other. If possible, don’t stack too many and spread them on a single layer. They will last 1-2 days at room temperature and 3-4 days in the fridge. To freeze, wash gently with cold water, pat dry, and place in an airtight container.
- Citrus (oranges, grapefruits, pomelos): Store in a cool place for up to 2-4 weeks. Once the fruit is ripe, you can store it in the fridge. You can freeze the whole fruit or slice it into thin pieces.
- Cherries: Store ripe cherries refrigerated for 5-10 days in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat. To freeze, wash the cherries, remove the pits, and place in airtight silicone baggies.
- Dates: Keep dry dates – up to 6 months in a pantry and a year in the fridge. Moist (Medjool) dates – 7 weeks in a pantry and up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
- Figs: You can use a paper bag to absorb excess moisture or place it evenly on a plate and refrigerate for 5-6 days. Wash just before eating. To freeze, place whole figs on a baking sheet, spaced apart. Freeze until solid, then transfer to silicone baggies.
- Grapes: Store unwashed grapes in a cloth produce bag in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
- Melons: Store a whole melon in a cool, dry place, out of the sun, for a couple of weeks. Once it’s fully ripe, you can store it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Keep cut melons in the refrigerator, in an open container, or on a plate, and consume them within 3 days.
- Nectarines and peaches: Keep the fruit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, to speed up the ripening. Like apricots, if it’s ripe, you can store them in the fridge for 3-7 days.
- Pears: Store 3-4 days at room temperature and a week in the fridge if ripe. Store at room temperature until they are ripe.
Note: To hasten the ripening, put an apple in with them/
- Persimmons: Store at room temperature until completely ripe. Then, keep it in the fridge for 1-3 days.
Note: To hasten the ripening process, place in a paper bag with a few apples.
- Pineapple: Keep ripe pineapple at room temperature for 1-3 days and 3-5 days in the fridge. Once you cut it and peel the flesh, store it in an airtight container and consume it in 3-4 days.
- Pomegranates: Keep in a cool, dry, out of direct sunlight. It will last 1-2 weeks at room temperature and 1-2 months in the fridge.
- Strawberries: Keep them dry. You can store them in a paper bag in the fridge for 3-7 days. Discard any bruised or moldy strawberries before that. Don’t wash them until ready to eat. To freeze, gently wash freeze on a single baking sheet layer for 3-4 hours. Then transfer in silicone baggies and freeze for longer.
Extra tip: To enjoy the strawberries for weeks, you can do this: Mix one part vinegar with 10 parts water. Soak the strawberries for 2 minutes, then drain. Put them on a towel to dry out for 15-20 minutes. Then, place them back in an open container and store them for weeks.
- Watermelon: 3 weeks in the refrigerator and 7-10 days at room temperature. If cut into smaller pieces, keep in the fridge, in a deeper bowl, covered with a plate for 4-5 days. If cut in half, store refrigerated for 7 days, and put the cut side facing down on a large plate (or cover with a wax wrap).
Tips on how to store vegetables and fruits without plastic:
You shouldn’t refrigerate:
- Garlic & onion
- Hard squash
- Potatoes & sweet potatoes
- Unripe stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, lychees, mangoes, almonds, apricots, dates, and cherries)
Allium genus is vegetables, high in beneficial sulfur compounds, giving them their distinctive flavor and aroma.
Allium means garlic in Greek, but other plants are members of the allium family, including onions, shallots, leeks, and chives.
Don’t store onion, garlic, leeks, etc., in the same container as potatoes since they release gasses that can spoil the vegetables faster.
Half-cut veggies or fruits:
Use a wax wrap to keep half-cut produce. Wax wraps are an excellent option that extends the life of half-cutter vegetables or fruits since they keep them fresh for longer.
Store in natural fiber bags/baskets at room temperature.
Store in ventilated baskets, metal bins, or even sturdy cardboard box holes poked in the sides. You can also cover the container so that no light can penetrate.
Most times, it’s best to arrange the chopped vegetables or fruits, on a baking sheet, in a single layer.
Once frozen (in 2-3 hours), you can transfer them to a silicone bag or freezer-safe container.
This will prevent freezer burn, as well as they won’t get stuck together into huge chunks.
It is essential to store certain fruits and vegetables separately since some fruits contain ethylene glycol, a natural plant hormone released in the form of a gas.
It causes cells to degrade, quickens the ripening, and may cause spoilage in some vegetables.
Click here to find which foods are sensitive to ethylene glycol and which ones produce it.
Heat treatment before freezing:
All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down nutrients, and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage.
That’s why it’s best to blanch, boil, or steam most vegetables, destroying these enzymes before freezing.
Blanching helps vegetables keep their vibrant colors, retain nutrients, and stop the enzymes that would otherwise lead to spoilage.
Some veggies and fruits will turn into a mush:
Even though you can freeze most veggies/fruit, some will become complete mush once you try to defrost them (tomatoes, bananas, etc.).
That’s why it’s best to use them in recipes. For example, tomatoes in stews, soups, and frozen bananas in smoothies.
Refrigerating can depend on your climate:
If you live somewhere tropical, you should refrigerate certain foods, even though it is not recommendable.
Humidity and very hot weather will spoil quite fast some vegetables or fruits.
Benefits of storing your vegetables and fruits properly:
There are multiple benefits to taking care of your fruits and veggies properly, such as:
- Saving money – By storing food properly, you will reduce your food waste and save money.
- Saving resources – You will conserve energy and resources, preventing pollution in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, selling food, and preventing food waste that will eventually end up in the landfill.
- Methane emissions – Less food waste in the landfill means fewer methane emissions (methane is a gas, 25 times more potent than CO2)
- Lower carbon footprint – The 2nd and 3rd point combined means that your personal and overall carbon footprint will be smaller.
The best containers to store your vegetables and fruits without plastic:
It keeps the wrapped food fresh and is ideal for almost every veggie and fruit. You can also freeze wax wraps.
However, always avoid anything hot when dealing with wax wraps since high temperatures will separate the wax from the cloth and destroy them.
You can keep them, store dried goods and spices on your counter, refrigerate veggies and fruits, freeze leftovers, and cook raw foods. Jars are a cost-effective way of storage and keeping things fresh.
Tip: If you plan to freeze things in jars, leave some space on the top, as food expands when frozen.
Bags are fantastic for placing whole fruits and vegetables in and keeping them in your refrigerator or on the counter.
Leakproof Tupperware containers are good for storing leftovers, veggies, and fruits. You can also use them to freeze things.
It is great to keep things dry and lay over veggies or fruits to keep them crisp.
Silicone baggies are freezer safe, convenient, and the closest to Ziploc bags, with the benefit of being a reusable and environmentally-friendly option.
Reusing anything you have:
Plastic or glass Tupperware containers, metal containers, glass jars, produce bags, dish towels – it’s best to use anything you have before purchasing new things.
So there you have it – a list of various vegetables & fruits and how to store them (in the fridge or outside!) without plastic.
Did I miss something? Do you have any additional tips or notes?
Let me know in the comment section below!