How to Store Your Produce: A Visual Guide Juicy Enough to Eat

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Congratulations! You just purchased fresh produce. Now what? You could stare at it for a while, using power of the mind to turn it into bags of delicious Haribo gummy bears, or you could be responsible and properly put it all away so it doesn't spoil while you attempt party tricks.

I was very bad at this task when I first started cooking. For instance, I'd put unripe tomatoes in the refrigerator and wonder why they tasted like wet paper towels when I cut into them. To save future salsa, I searched for produce guides that lay down the Fruit and Vegetable Law without any fuss. This guide was helpful, but the problem with relying on one point of reference is that there are exceptions to rules and scientific rationale that's better clarified elsewhere. Also, this particular PDF is not visually appealing. I am a visual learner and I'm the only thing that matters, so it's really a pity that the creators of this table didn't take this into account.

I remedied the situation at hand by making the below produce using colored macaroni, Elmer's glue, and glitter. I hope you like it as much as I like the taste of Elmer's glue.

 

Refrigerator Produce

Rules of thumb:

  • Use ripe produce within 1-3 days for maximum flavor and freshness
  • Remove rubber bands from vegetables and herbs to keep them from drying out
  • Pack your produce loosely in separate, perforated bags
  • Leafy greens can be washed in advance if they are sandy, but wait to wash soft herbs and mushrooms until you need them
  • If your refrigerator has crisper drawers with adjustable low-humidity and high-humidity settings, use them. An expert tells Epicurious to designate one drawer as your high-humidity crisper and one as your low-humidity crisper. Ethylene-producing produce (ethylene is a natural plant hormone that forces things to ripen) should be kept in the low-humidity crisper while ethylene-sensitive produce should be kept in the high-humidity crisper. I helped you out by putting an L or an H on the photos throughout so you know which produce goes in low-humidity and which goes in high.

Not Pictured: Cut vegetables, cut fruit, sprouts, fresh herbs (a separate guide dedicated to herbs is coming)


Counter Produce

Rules of thumb:

  • Ripen these babies on the counter before you refrigerate them
  • If you need to ripen an apricot or an avocado quickly, throw them in a closed paper bag. If you need guac NOW, add an apple or a banana into the bag and pray to the ethylene deities.

Room Temperature produce

Rules of thumb:

  • Keep these puppies away from direct sunlight
  • Keep garlic, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in a well-ventilated place in the pantry

Suggested reading if you're still here:

  • More on refrigerators from Epicurious 
  • Very in-depth guide on fruit and vegetable storage from Real Simple
  • Another in-depth guide from

Analyze & Discuss:

If you were produce, would you be ethylene-sensitive or ethylene producing?