Fruit & Veggie Guide: How To Wash Produce & How To Store Produce

How to Properly Wash & Store Produce. Handy guide via DesignMom.com - How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Here is my not-at-all-comprehensive-but-very-helpful-guide to Properly Washing + Storing Fruits and Vegetables.

How to Store Produce Secret #1:

Some vegetables and fruits should never be refrigerated.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

TOMATOES will turn mealy and flavorless if refrigerated. Ick! Keep at room temperature to ripen and only store cut tomatoes in the fridge.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

MELONS such as cantaloupe and honeydew will turn rubbery if kept in the fridge, though refrigerated watermelon does absolutely fine, before and after cutting.

Before cutting melons (and other tough skinned produce like AVOCADOS, PINEAPPLE and SQUASH) wash with a little dish soap and a scrub brush, rinsing well, to prevent spreading any microbes lurking on the surface.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

WINTER SQUASHES should be kept in a cool dark place instead of the fridge.

POTATOES should not be kept in the fridge either. The starches in the potatoes will turn to sugar and the potatoes will taste sweet.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How to Store Produce Secret #2:

Ripen these foods on the counter and then refrigerate: AVOCADOS, KIWI, STONE FRUITS (peaches, plums, nectarines, etc.) and use within a few  days.

BANANAS should also be kept at room temperature. If refrigerated, peels will turn black, but it doesn’t really affect quality or taste. (Very ripe bananas can be frozen, un-peeled, until later. To use, simply peel the frozen bananas under warm water and add them to smoothies or mash for breads and other baked goods.)

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

As soon as you bring them home, check over BERRIES and pick out any that show signs of spoilage, because mold will quickly spread to other berries. They should be kept dry. Store them in a plastic clamshell container or paper bag in as few layers as possible. You can also store them on paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Berries should never be rinsed until just before eating.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

BEANS and PEAS should always be stored in the fridge after picking or buying, and used immediately.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How to Store Produce Secret #3:

Use perforated plastic bags  to allow for some air circulation, while not letting produce dry out.

ONIONS should be stored away from other foods, particularly potatoes. Keep them in mesh bags in a cool, dark place and they will keep happily for months. You can also refrigerate onions, but be careful because the strong flavor might transfer to other foods. The exception to this is GREEN ONIONS, which should be stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator crisper drawer.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

The best way to store ASPARAGUS is to cut 1/4″ off the bottom of the stalks and store them upright in a little water.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How to Store Produce Secret #4:

Storing in water also works for fresh herbs, particularly parsley, cilantro, oregano, sage, marjoram, basil, rosemary, tarragon, mint, and chives.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

For sturdy leafy greens like KALE, CHARD, and COLLARDS, rinse well, remove the tough stems and cut the leaves into ribbons. Store in a  plastic bag with a damp paper towel to keep them fresh and ready to use in recipes during the next week.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Remove tops from root veggies like BEETS, TURNIPS, RADISHES, CARROTS, etc., and store separately in plastic bags with a damp paper  towel to keep them from wilting. Use the tops within a few days. The roots will keep for much longer. Before cooking with un-peeled root veggies, use a sturdy brush to scrub the nooks and crannies.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How to Store Produce Secret #5:

Good news! You don’t always have to peel root vegetables. Especially if they’re from your own garden and you know they’re  chemical-free. A good brush to remove the dirt is all you need.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom
How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

SALAD GREENS should be refrigerated until ready to eat. When you buy them, keep them in the plastic tub they come in with a paper towel between the greens and the lid to absorb any excess moisture. If you buy them bagged, get them from a local farm, or pick them from your garden, wash greens in a big bowl of water with a little white vinegar added. Gently swish to remove dirt and bugs. Repeat until water is clear, and spin or gently pat dry. Store in plastic bags or tubs with a damp paper towel.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Use the same washing process for broccoli and cauliflower.

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How to Store Produce Secret #6:

Head lettuce can tolerate more moisture to keep it crisp, so it doesn’t have to be super dry before going in the fridge. (Yay for timesavers!)

How to Store Produce featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

Never soak MUSHROOMS in water. If they are very dirty, give them a quick rinse. Otherwise, leave them be.

And there you have it. Clean fruits and vegetables, that won’t spoil minutes after you buy them. Enjoy the harvest!

P.S. — More Secrets to Living Well.

79 thoughts on “Fruit & Veggie Guide: How To Wash Produce & How To Store Produce”

  1. Great tips – VERY helpful – really. I’ll add one more: Do not store avocados and bananas next to one another UNLESS you need to them both to ripen a bit, and then doing so helps a lot.

  2. Nice tips. Thank you.
    We are the members of the local CSA and I must admit I have a hard time keeping up(storage etc) with all the veggies and fruits that we get. Only this week we got 4 watermelons.

  3. Such good and timely tips! Now that harvest season is upon us, we find ourselves coming home from the market with so many lovely fruit and veggies and hurrying to eat them up before they turn limp and unattractive.

    As Sherri mentioned, I have also heard of this neat thing about bananas. When they ripen, they produce ethylene, which is a natural plant hormone regulating ripening. And bananas produce so much of it that they can contribute to the ripening of other fruits when placed in close contact (in a bag, for instance). How did I live without knowing this before?

  4. I peel my very ripe bananas, put them all in a ziploc in the freezer, and then pull out frozen pieces for smoothies or banana bread. You definitely don’t need to keep the peel on to freeze them.

  5. Beautiful pics Lindsey.

    I can attest the truthfullness that tomatoes should NOT be refrigerated. I came upon that tip from a Costco Connections magazine years back, & have been glad ever since. No more mealy tomatoes!

  6. Wonderful tips! While I was in France this summer, I heard many of these same tips from friends – I tried them and they worked! It’s funny that in the US we have a slight obsession with refrigerating everything when doing so is not always necessary. I agree with Sharon, I will definitely be hanging these tips in a cupboard in my kitchen.

  7. Good tips. I noticed you had a salad spinner in some of the pictures – store greens in mine and they stay fresh for much longer than any other method I’ve found.

  8. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! No wonder my tomatoes haven’t been awesome lately. I just joined a CSA and have been delayed in researching washing + storage for my beautiful produce. THANK YOU!

  9. I never knew about cleaning greens with a bit of white vinegar too. What does that do? Does it help with the cleaning or does it help with the longevity of the greens?

    Thanks for a great post!

  10. What a gorgeous bounty of fresh produce and tips! I’m another one who loves to keep greens in a salad spinner… they stay fresh all week. One thing I do differently is wash all berries when I bring them home… a box of blueberries or strawberries for example. I rinse them well, pour off as much water as possible, and keep them in a loosely covered container in the fridge – have never had a problem and it’s just more convenient to have them ready to eat.

  11. I also heard Dr. Oz say that onions and potatoes should never be refrigerated because it creates carcinogens and can be cancer-encouraging. I am butchering the way he said it, but you get my drift. XO

  12. Love these tips. I’ll but posting these up on my fridge this weekend. One thing that I have found that goes against the common – never pre-rinse berries, mantra is that I actually soak them (for many be 5 minutes – usually just long enough to put away the other produce)/
    I soak them in a large bowl or my sink with water and white vinegar. It’s similar to the lettuce wash you mentioned. I’ve heard that the vinegar works because it kills surface bacteria.
    After their vinegar and water bath is over is let them air dry on a large cloth napkin. Then I put them all in a big bowl, lined and covered with a dry cloth. It’s worked well. The strawberries at the bottom of the bowl (5 days later) are usually still as good the day we bought them.

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  14. I’ve also heard the same as Julia, (#23), about pre-washing berries in water and vinegar. It helps prevent bacteria that will spoil the fruit.
    Also, if you store your herbs as I do in a glass with water on the bottom, then Cover the herbs with a Plastic bag covering them, they will last for many Days. Just like a mini greenhouse. I use the fruit and veggie green bags and am amazed that my Basil lasts so long.

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  17. I’ve read to, and have had success with, bathing berries in a water/vinegar mixture to kill mold. I do this as soon as I get home from the market; soak for 5 minutes, rinse, dry, and store as usual. Have you ever used this tip?

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