A lot can happen from the time produce is picked off the vine or pulled from the earth. Some fruits and veggies go to a packing house; others are cooled and transported an average of 1200 miles before reaching the consumer.  Freshness equals nutrients, not to mention color and flavor.  But we certainly can’t eat all of our purchases in one day.  And while I’m trying to keep up with summer’s bounty by roasting tomatoes and making pesto, if I have to store my fresh-picked produce for a few days, I’ll want to keep it as close to its most natural state as possible.

Since I know you are all shopping at your local farmers’ markets, here are some hints on how to preserve the freshness and nutritional values of your perishable produce:

Store at room temperature
apples               lemons                 pineapple
bananas            limes                    pomegranates
grapefruit         mangoes              papayas
watermelon      persimmons        zucchini
garlic                dry onions            potatoes (put in paper bag and keep in drawer)
tomatoes          eggplant               peppers

Ripen on counter first, then refrigerate
avocados       nectarines         pears
kiwi               peaches             plums

blueberries       cherries           strawberries (put in Tupperware with paper towel)
apricots            grapes             figs
raspberries       blackberries    greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard
green beans     herbs               Brussels sprouts
carrots             cabbage           basil (put in vase with water, cover with plastic bag)
radishes           corn in husk    lettuces (wash first, then store in plastic bag with holes)
cauliflower      celery              leeks
beets                broccoli           mushrooms (put in paper bag in produce drawer)

In order to maximize the nutrients you receive, it is best to consume your fresh produce within two days of purchase, but these tips can help extend their life span. General rule of thumb is to wash all produce – even citrus – just before eating, with exceptions above.


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