Storing Fruit and Vegetables

bubbels (sxc.hu)

Have on hand potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, salad greens, parsley, and a few other fresh herbs like basil and dill. You also may want to stock cucumbers, scallions, assorted citrus, mushrooms, red and green peppers, and celery for slicing and eating raw or for flavoring sauces, soups, salads, and stews. Keep an assortment of fresh fruits – apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, or whatever is in season – for snacking, slicing into cereals, or making quick dessert sauces.

It’s best to keep unripe melons and tree fruits like pears, peaches, and nectar­ines at room temperature so that they can ripen and grow sweeter. Once fully ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator for several more days. Fruits like cherries and berries are quite perishable and should always be refrigerated. For best flavor, consume them the same day you purchase them.

  •  Bananas can go in the refrigerator to slow down their ripening. Their peel continues to darken, but not their flesh.
  • Tomatoes have more flavor at room temperature. Keep in a cool, dark place or in a paper bag to ripen fully. Refrigerate them after they ripen to keep them from spoiling. Then return to room temperature before eating. (See Chapter 11 for more information about tomatoes.)
  • Citrus fruits, such as lemons, grapefruits, kiwis, and oranges, do not ripen further after they are picked and are relatively long-storage fruits. They keep for up to 3 weeks or more if refrigerated.
  • Avocados, papayas, and mangoes should be kept at room temperature until fully ripened and then refrigerated to keep for several more days.

Most vegetables are quite perishable and require refrigeration, with the exception of onions, white potatoes, garlic, shallots, and hard-shelled squash, which keep at room temperature for several weeks to a month.  Keep garlic and shallots in a small bowl within reach of your food preparation area. Store onions, potatoes, and winter squash in a cool, dry, dark drawer or bin.

Here are some storage tips for specific fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples: Refrigerate or store in a cool, dark place. Keep for several weeks.
  • Artichokes and asparagus: Refrigerate and use within 2 to 3 days of purchase.
  • Beans:  Refrigerate and use within 3 to 4 days of purchase.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower: Refrigerate and consume within a week.
  • Cabbage: Keeps for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Carrots: Keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  • Celery: Keeps for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Corn: Refrigerate and use the same day of purchase. After corn is picked, its sugar immediately converts to starch, diminishing its sweetness.
  • Cucumbers and eggplant: Keep for 1 week in the cold crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
  • Grapes: Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Leaf greens (beet tops, collards, kale, mustard greens, and so on): Very perishable.  Refrigerate and consume within 1 to 2 days.
  • Mushrooms: Store in a paper bag or plastic container in the refrigerator.  Use within a week.
  • Pineapple: Does not ripen after it’s picked. Cut up, place in a plastic bag or sealed container, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Salad greens: Store completely dry in plastic bags in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Keep for 3 to 4 days.
  • Sweet bell peppers: Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Spinach: Store completely dry in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
  • Summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash): Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
(source:  Cooking for Dummies-1996)
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