Produce Storage Guide
How you store fruit and vegetables will have a major impact on their taste and texture when you serve them. Almost everything can be stored in the refrigerator except for bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, and limes. These items should be kept in a cool, dry area, but will experience strange changes if kept at too cold a temperature. Garlic and onions should also be kept at room temperature (or cooler) in a well-ventilated area.
Tomatoes -Should be stored unwashed and always at room temperature. Any refrigeration will give them an unpleasant mealy texture and kill the flavors and aroma.
Cut onions -have a very high water content and should be individually wrapped in paper towels or aluminum foil before being stored in the fridge.
Eggplant -goes bad quickly and should be used within a couple days of purchase and stored in a cool area.
Asparagus -should be stored in the refrigerator with a moist paper towel around the stems or can be stood up in a glass of cold water with a damp paper towel wrapped around the tops to keep them crisp.
Mushrooms—can be kept in a cool, dry place and should only be washed directly before use.
Potatoes -Root cellars are the perfect environment for potatoes and other root vegetables. But, if you don't have one, just make sure to keep the taters out of the fridge and in a cool, dry place with a lot of ventilation .The starch turns to sugar at cold temperatures. Keeping an apple with your potatoes will keep them from growing eyes, but warmth and light will definitely cause them to sprout!
Carrots -should be peeled only right before use and can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Cut off the carrot greens, even if you are going to use the greens later, and store them separately to keep them from sapping nutrients from the roots. Secondly, store the carrots in a covered container filled with water. This will keep them fresh for a long time! We have also seen a tip that says you can roll carrots in bubble wrap and that this will also keep them ultra-fresh. We have never tried that, but we can speak to the effectiveness of the water bath.
Herbs-There are several ways to keep herbs fresh longer: wash them before they go in the fridge, dry them well, cut off the ends, and put them in a glass of water like a little bunch of flowers. You can cover the tops with a plastic bag or damp paper towel to lock the moisture in. You can also store washed and dried herbs in a plastic bag along with a paper towel which will absorb extra moisture and make the environment more humid.
Lettuce-Fill up a bowl of cold water, break off the leaves, dunk them in the water, lift them out, change the water, and repeat until the water is clean. Always dry greens very well with paper or kitchen towels or a salad spinner and store them in a plastic bag with a couple paper towels as you would with fresh herbs.
Corn-You can theoretically store corn for several days refrigerated in the husk, but they will gradually lose their sweetness and begin to taste starchy even when cooked.
Cucumbers- are sensitive to temperatures below 50°F and may develop "chilling injuries" including water-soaked areas, pitting, and accelerated decay. Some surprising information about the best way to keep cucumbers fresh, is to store them at room temperature – not in the refrigerator. If you must refrigerate your cucumbers, limit it to 1-3 days and eat them as soon as possible. In addition, cucumbers are highly sensitive to ethylene and should be kept away from bananas, melons, and tomatoes, in particular.
Tree Fruit- If your fruit is not ripe and ready to eat and you want to hasten the ripening process, it's really easy to do. Just place the fruit (pears, peaches, plums, nectarines or kiwifruit) in a paper bag out of direct sunlight and at room temperature. Fold the top of the bag over so it's closed. If you want to speed up the process, just place an apple or a banana inside the bag with the other fruit. Be sure to check the fruit daily to be sure to not over-ripen. The natural ethylene produced by the fruit inside this bag will cause the fruit to ripen faster than by just setting it on a counter or leaving it in your refrigerator. You can tell that the fruit is ripe if it yields to gentle palm pressure. Once the fruit is ripe you can place it in your refrigerator.
Tree Fruit like peaches, plums, pears, nectarines and apricots are picked before they are ripe in order to make it to market.
Apples -are one of the few fruits that really do benefit from being stored in the fridge as quickly as possible. Keep them in the crisper drawer with aforementioned damp paper towel, or else keep them in perforated plastic bags in a cold shed or cellar. —->
We also discovered the truth of that old adage: "One bad apple rots the whole bunch." Apples give off a lot of ethylene gas, and so just one bruised and rotting apple will give off enough to swiftly ripen (and rot) the others. If you have any bruises or soft spots on an apple, set it aside for eating. Don't store with the other apples.
Bananas -should be kept at room temperature on a hanger if possible. They will last longer if you separate them break them apart instead of storing them in the bunch.
Citrus Fruit-Most citrus will keep at room temperature for several days. For best results, store citrus in a plastic bag or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Lemons and limes will last a long time at room temperature while they tend to absorb odors from the fridge, something worth avoiding.
Do not store fruits and vegetables together. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the "one bad apple" adage.)