Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every fruit and vegetable had a user manual for perfect storage? Unfortunately, we’re left to navigate the world of produce preservation on our own. But fear not! In this updated guide to storing fruits and vegetables, we’ll explore the essential tips and tricks to keep produce fresh. Because, let’s face it, the backbone of a whole foods plant based diet relies on fresh and vibrant fruits and vegetables.

The Crucial Role to Keep Produce Fresh in a Plant Based Diet

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of storage tips, let’s emphasize the significance to keep produce fresh in a whole foods plant based diet. Rich in essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, fresh fruits and vegetables form the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. To make the most of your plant based journey, consider incorporating high-protein options like:

  • Broccoli (5 grams/cup)
  • Brussels sprouts (3.9 grams/cup)
  • Cooked Sweet Potato (5 grams/cup)

As well as fiber-rich choices such as carrots, cauliflower, and acorn squash.

Sourcing Top-Quality Produce

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA):

Explore the option of becoming a part of a CSA to enjoy a direct supply of fresh, locally cultivated produce straight from farmers. This not only guarantees that you can keep produce fresh and focus on the quality of your food but also actively contributes to supporting local agriculture. Check out LocalHarvest.org to find a local CSA near you. You then “buy in” to a share and make an upfront payment for a set number of boxes throughout the entire season. Convenient local drop-off points will be available for you to collect your weekly assortment. Embrace the element of surprise, as the contents of each box may include items you’ve never encountered before. This unpredictability adds an exciting dimension to the experience, challenging you to creatively utilize the variety and introducing your taste buds to new and unexplored culinary delights.

Farmers Markets:

Explore farmer’s markets for a diverse selection of fresh, seasonal produce. Engaging with local farmers and other market shoppers can provide valuable insights into the origin of your food. Produce is always fresh, usually just picked from nearby farms so it enables you to keep produce fresh for longer periods of time in your home.

Grocery Stores:

Opt for grocery stores with a strong commitment to quality produce. Seek out organic and locally sourced options for the freshest choices.  High-end stores (like the one that begins with the word “whole”) are usually a treasure trove of the freshest items and a strong contender to order online because you can be sure that whatever your shopper chooses will be high quality, unlike other stores where you have to use a discerning eye to pick through to find the right “apple.”

Storage Wisdom – General Tips for Keeping Produce Fresh:

While each veggie and fruit has its own unique storage tip, here are the general guidelines you can follow to cover the bulk of your produce storage:

  • Store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place.
  • Avoid ethylene gas interference by keeping certain fruits and vegetables separate.
  • Wash before consuming, not before storing, to prolong shelf life and keep produce fresh.
  • Utilize original packaging or reusable containers for optimal freshness.
  • Regularly check and remove any spoiling produce to reduce waste.
  • Embrace composting to contribute to the fight against food waste.

Specific Storage Tips to Keep Produce Fresh:

Consider the Self Magazine article, “HERE IS HOW TO STORE PRETTY MUCH ANY KIND OF PRODUCE,” as the go-to guide in our plant based kitchen. We recommend bookmarking it for quick and convenient reference when dealing with various produce items throughout different seasons.

Apples: To prevent premature ripening, store apples separately from other produce. Bananas and citrus fruits emit ethylene, a gas that speeds up the ripening process. For extended shelf life, keep apples in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Asparagus: Trim the ends and store the asparagus upright in a glass of water. Cover it with a plastic bag, ensuring freshness. Replace the water if it becomes cloudy.

Avocados: Allow avocados to ripen at room temperature before refrigeration. Once ripe, store them in the fridge, preferably with the pit intact, and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent oxidation.

Bananas: Keep bananas at room temperature until they develop brown speckles. Then transfer them to the fridge to extend their lifespan.

Bell Peppers: For optimal storage, keep unwashed bell peppers in the refrigerator. Moisture can cause premature rotting, so wash them just before use.

Berries: Refrigerate berries to maintain their freshness. Rinse them right before consumption to preserve flavor. Leave stems or caps on until ready to eat.

Broccoli: Preserve the crispness of broccoli by placing the head in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Cover it with a moist paper towel for enhanced freshness.

Brussels Sprouts: Store unwashed Brussels sprouts in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should remain fresh for up to a week.

Cabbage: Keep cabbage in the crisper drawer, and avoid cutting it until you’re ready to use. For cut cabbage, tightly wrap or bag it.

Cauliflower: Store cauliflower in the plastic it was sold in or wrap it in plastic. Place it in the crisper drawer, stem side up, to prevent moisture accumulation. Keep the head intact until use.

Carrots: Carrots can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature. Keep them in a cool, dark, and dry environment for long-lasting freshness. Another way is to submerge them in a container of water and store them in the fridge.

Celery: Wrap celery in aluminum foil and store it in the crisper drawer to avoid exposure to ethylene gases, which accelerate breakdown. Same as carrots, you can submerge them in a container of water and store them in the fridge.

Cherries and Plums: These stone fruits last the longest when kept as cold as possible. Consume cherries promptly, as they lose sweetness with time.

Citrus: Store citrus fruits at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Avoid direct sunlight. They can last for a few days to several weeks, depending on storage conditions.

Corn: Keep unhusked corn cobs in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, until ready to cook.

Cucumbers: Cucumbers are sensitive to cold temperatures. It’s best to store them at room temperature or in a warmer location within your fridge.

Garlic: Store garlic in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place. Avoid refrigeration, as it may negatively affect its texture.  Or better yet, our hot plant based STAPLES & ESSENTIALS tip – while bulbs of garlic do taste the best, we choose to always have a container of pre-minced garlic on hand for ease in everyday recipes.

Grapes: Unwashed grapes can last up to a week in the fridge. Rinse them just before eating.

Herbs: Store fresh herbs in the refrigerator, either dry and bagged or in a jar with water. Trim the ends if storing them in water.

Kiwis: Refrigerate ripe kiwis, but only after they’ve fully ripened. Unripe kiwis can be stored at room temperature.

Leafy Greens: Keep lettuce and spinach fresh by washing and drying them thoroughly. Store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel to prevent moisture build-up. We try to purchase triple-washed lettuce whenever possible to save us this step.

Mangoes: Allow mangoes to ripen at room temperature before refrigerating. To speed up ripening, place them in a paper bag.

Melons: Uncut melons should be stored at room temperature. After cutting, refrigerate them in an airtight container to inhibit bacterial growth.

Nectarines, Peaches, and Apricots: Avoid refrigerating these fruits, as it dehydrates them. Store them in a cool spot in your kitchen.

Onions: Keep onions in a cool, dark place, but not in the fridge, to maintain their texture.

Pears: Store pears in the fridge once fully ripened. Sprinkle the cut pears with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Pineapple: Allow pineapple to ripen at room temperature before refrigeration. Store uncut pineapple wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container.

Pomegranate: Pomegranates can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated. Keep pomegranate seeds in an airtight container.

Potatoes: Store potatoes in a cool, dark place but avoid placing them with onions to prevent sprouting.

Summer Squash (Yellow Squash or Zucchini): Store summer squash, such as zucchini, in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

Tomatoes: Avoid refrigerating tomatoes, as it affects their texture. Store them at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.

Winter Squash: Uncut winter squash can be stored at room temperature for weeks to months. After cutting, refrigerate it in an airtight container for a few days.

By incorporating these storage tips and adopting high-quality produce sourcing methods, you’ll enhance your whole foods plant based diet. By using these tips to keep produce fresh you are committing to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Wave goodbye to produce-related concerns, and get ready to save money while savoring your fruits and veggies for an extended, delightful period.