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In a pickle: How to prevent fruits and veggies from rotting

There are few things worse than stocking up on fruits and veggies only to have them spoil before you can enjoy them. Start making them last longer!

Fresh vegetables

Fruits and veggies can last in the fridge from two days to more than a month, depending on the specific fruit or veggie, of course. Certain factors play a role in their freshness — such as how ripe the produce was when you purchased it, the temperature of your fridge and which types of produce should or shouldn’t be stored together. Here’s a quick guide to help prevent your fruits and veggies from rotting and maintain their freshness longer.

Autumn and winter produce

Winter fruits and veggies can last all season long if you store them properly. Apples, pumpkin, squash and garlic should all be kept dry and cool. The area should be well-ventilated and dark, such as a basement. Prevent placing any fruits or vegetables in a spot where they’ll be in direct contact with the sun. The ideal temperature for winter produce is 32 degrees F. Winter squash will last the longest at up to six months, whereas cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli can only last one month, assuming it’s properly stored.

Summer produce

Typically, summer fruits and vegetables do not last as long as their winter counterparts. Berries, watermelon, zucchini and peppers last up to one week in the refrigerator. Summer produce should all be stored in separate plastic bags in the refrigerator for maximum freshness and quality. Lettuce and chard should be kept dry and in a separate crisper drawer than all other fruits and veggies. Corn, cucumbers and green beans have the shortest lifespan of just four days, so plan a meal right away to use up these foods.

Check out this guide on how to preserve summer fruit >>

Extra tips on keeping produce fresh

  • Certain foods should be kept away from each other to prevent premature spoiling. Bananas, mangoes, avocadoes and plums should be stored separately from broccoli, carrots and leafy greens.
  • Citrus fruits last up to one week when stored properly. Ideally, store them in a cool, dark place (such as the fridge) away from sunlight.
  • Keep all veggies as dry as possible in the crisper drawer.
  • Do not wash berries until you eat them to prevent extra moisture.
  • Carefully select your produce before buying it. Do not buy anything that is bruised or cut, as it will spoil faster and cause your other produce to spoil quicker as well.
  • Herbs and asparagus should be stored in a glass of water and covered with a plastic bag.
  • Root vegetables — like carrots or beets — can be frozen to last all winter long.
  • Shop at the farmers market to get the freshest, best-quality harvest.
  • Plan meals ahead of time and only buy what you need. Shop regularly to ensure your fruits and vegetables won’t go to waste.

revive wilted greens

If your lettuce becomes wilted despite your best efforts to keep it fresh, it can be salvaged as long as it’s not moldy. The reason lettuce (and other greens) become wilted is simply because they lose their water. To perk them back up, submerge in cold water for 30 minutes. This allows them to regain their crispness and provide you with a fresh, delicious salad in under an hour.

More on fruits and vegetables

Canned versus frozen fruits and vegetables
How to incorporate fruits and vegetables in meals
Health benefits of yellow fruits and vegetables

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