How To Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

I am often asked how I store fresh fruits and vegetables. So when at a recent photoshoot, I had a huge bowl of produce begging for attention, I knew we had content and information to share. Now, this is not typically how I would store these beauties but again, the camera was doing her job, but afterward, proper storing would happen. In this blog post, I have compiled my personal experience and suggestions, as well as research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmer’s Almanac, various food manufacturers, and food scientists.

You may have your own way of prepping and storing, but when writing this blog, I took a more conservative approach as my first consideration is food safety. I typically leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. The exceptions would be mushrooms and herbs, which are noted below. If you frequent the farmers’ market for your greens, you may find sand or dirt (SO fresh!). Simply rinse and dry well, wrap in a paper towel before placing them in a plastic bag. Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose.

In my guidelines listed below, I am assuming your produce is ripe and ready to eat. Some items, like apricots and avocados, will ripen faster in a paper bag on the countertop. The bag traps ethylene gas, which is released by the produce and acts as a maturing agent. Want to speed the process up even more? Simply, place an apple in the bag.

The US Food and Drug Administration recommends washing all fruits and vegetables under cold running water before preparation. Once fruits and vegetables are cut, chopped, or cooked, they should be refrigerated in covered containers or frozen in freezer containers. Avoid leaving cut, peeled, and cooked fruit and vegetables at room temperature for more than two hours. Fresh fruits and vegetables vary widely in their storage times, from a few days to several weeks. Very few can be safely stored at room temperature for long, and most must be kept in the refrigerator. Bruises and mold are signs of spoilage…toss!

The fruits and vegetables listed below are items I “typically” purchase weekly and remember, the below are guidelines that work for my family.

ApplesRefrigerator: 3 weeks
BananasCountertop: 5 days
Ripe bananas can be frozen for baking, the skins will blacken, but the flesh will be fine.
PeachesRefrigerator: 5 days
To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft and slightly fragrant.
PearsRefrigerator: 5 days
To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.
PomegranatesRefrigerator: 3 weeks (whole) 3 days (seeds)
TomatoesCountertop: 3 days
To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag.
AsparagusRefrigerator: 3 days
Trim the ends before wrapping the spears in a damp paper towel, then in a plastic bag.
AvocadosRefrigerator: 3 days
To ripen, keep at room temperature in a paper bag until soft.
Bell peppersRefrigerator:
Green/1 week
Red, yellow, orange/5 days
CeleryRefrigerator: 2 weeks
CucumbersRefrigerator: 5 days
GarlicPantry: 2 months, makings sure air can circulate around the bulb.
MushroomsRefrigerator: 1 week in a paper bag

Citrus Fruits

GrapefruitCountertop: 1 week
Refrigerator: 3 weeks
ClementinesRefrigerator: 5 days
OrangesCountertop: 3 days
Refrigerator: 2 weeks
LimesRefrigerator: 3 weeks
LemonsRefrigerator: 3 weeks
TangerinesRefrigerator: 1 week


HerbsRefrigerator: 3 days (basil, cilantro, chives, tarragon)
5 days (parsley, minty)
2 weeks (rosemary, thyme)
Wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel before bagging
KaleRefrigerator: 3 days
Lettuce – bagged or clamshellFollow the expiration date on the packaging as bacteria can develop.
Lettuce – headRefrigerator: 5 days
Iceberg can last for 2 weeks.

Root Vegetables

The beauty of root vegetables is that many of them will keep for a long time.
This is especially true of veggies like potatoes, onions, and garlic. Make sure
root vegetables are in a cool, dark place with air circulation.

CarrotsRefrigerator: 2 weeks
OnionsPantry: 2 months
Whole, make sure air can circulate around the bulb
Refrigerated: 4 days, cut
Potatoes, red, russet, Yukon gold, and other varietiesPantry: 3 weeks
Sweet PotatoesPantry: 2 weeks in a paper bag

Products I use to help keep my produce fresh!

Food Huggers Set of 5

Avocado Hugger

Food Hugger Bowl Lids

Reusable Mesh Produce Bags

Eat Cleaner Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Salad Scissors

Vegetable Chopper

Stainless Steel Colanders

Refrigerator Tote

Reusable Bag


  1. Meg Plotsky says:

    Love this helpful information!

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