What do you do with your fruit and vegetables when you get home from the grocery store? Automatically put everything in the refrigerator? Never put any fruit in the refrigerator? And where at in the refrigerator should you store vegetables? The crisper? On a shelf? Should you ever leave fruit in direct sunlight?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers when it comes to storing fruit and veggies. Each one is a little different, with some having different needs than the others. The main reason for eating fresh fruit and vegetables, aside from taste, is that they are rich in vitamins and minerals. But most lose those very things when kept at room temperature. On the other hand tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples will undergo very rapid deterioration if stored in cold places.
The first place most people will choose to store fruits and veggies is in the crisper drawers. The crisper is so-called because food placed there loses its moisture more slowly than food placed on refrigerator shelves. Therefore a piece of celery broken in two will have a much crisper pop! to it than celery placed on the shelf. Because of the slower loss of moisture, the crisper is much more humid than the rest of the fridge. Foods that need the humid atmosphere should be placed in the crisper, but not necessarily without an added bit of storage prep.
For instance, apples should be placed in a paper bag first in order to slow ripening and keep them from getting mushy. Don’t store apples for more than three weeks, however. Carrots should also be stored in a paper bag, although plastic is almost as good, in order to keep them from going limp, making sure you cut off the green top first. The longer you keep them, the limper they will be. Try not to keep for longer than a week. Asparagus is a special case. Not only are you dealing with the snap effect, but leaving asparagus at room temperature would rob them of almost half their vitamin C power.
When it comes to those shelves you’ll want to make room for any fruit or vegetable that benefits from air circulation. Shelving is best for unhusked corn. The best way to store it is to keep it wrapped in a damp cloth and by no means keep it in there for very long. Try to use it within a day or two and certainly no longer than three or four days if you want maximum taste. Most berries should be shelved, either in a paper bag or else covered in plastic, and the stems should be left on until ready to eat. You want to make sure you put your cucumbers in the highest place you can, disregarding a crisper. The reason for this is that you want to make sure ice crystals get as little a chance as possible to form around the seeds. Mushrooms should be wiped with a damp cloth, although cleaning them with water is not necessarily as devastatingly bad an idea as you may have heard, and then stored in a paper bag, the darker the color bag the better.
Most tropical fruits should never see the inside of a refrigerator unless they’ve been transformed into juice or have reached absolute ripeness (by which time they should by all rights have already been eaten). Everything from avocados to lemons to plums to melons are best kept on the coolest part of your countertop that you can find.
Never ever ever refrigerate tomatoes unless you enjoy eating a flavorless piece of mush. Rather, store them with the stem-side down away from any direct sunlight.
Oddly enough, the best place to store your garlic is also the best place to store your vampire. A dark, dry, ventilated area will keep garlic fresh for three months.
Do you put onions in the refrigerator or in a hanging basket? I know people who do both and frankly I can’t tell the difference. The experts say to go the way of the hanging basket, but if you’ve got them in the fridge, I wouldn’t get too upset.
One last word of advice: Don’t freeze raw fruit and vegetable. Not only will they be practically inedible, but if you don’t let them thaw completely, you could suffer serious dental bills if you try to bite into them.