assortment of vegetables in a basket
Updated: April 30, 2021

Fruit and vegetables have various and specific ways to properly store them to prevent spoilage and ensure the best flavor. Some are better to store in the refrigerator while others are best stored at room temperature. Once a fruit or vegetable is cut or prepared it is always important to store it in the refrigerator and use it up within a few days. Some produce is best stored washed while others unwashed.  

Regardless of how they are stored always remember to thoroughly wash any garden item prior to eating or cooking. When pre-washing before storage, be sure to dry fruits and vegetables with a clean paper towel before storing to prevent any mold or rotting.

 

Fruit/Vegetable Storage Method and Time Tips
Berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries) Refrigerator crisper: 2-3 days Remove any spoiled or crushed berries before storing. Store unwashed in plastic bags or containers. Don’t remove green tops from strawberries before storing. Wash gently under cool running water before eating.
Melons (watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe)

Store uncut melons at room temperature

Refrigerator: 3-4 days for cut melon

For best flavor, store melons at room temperature until ripe. Store ripe, cut melon covered in the refrigerator. Wash rind thoroughly before cutting (preferably use a scrubbing brush to wash rind).
Peaches, pears, nectarines Refrigerator crisper: 5 days Ripen the fruit at room temperature, and then refrigerate in plastic bags. Wash before eating.
Apricots, cherries, plums Refrigerator in a perforated bag: 1 week Refrigerate in a perforated bag. Wash well before eating.
Tomatoes Store at room temperature To ripen quickly, store in a paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, there is no need to refrigerate, once refrigerated they will lose flavor and become overly soft.
Salad Greens (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, collards) Refrigerator; loosely packed in a perforated mesh bag for 2-4 days Refrigerate immediately after harvest, store unwashed. Wash thoroughly before eating.
Beets, carrots, parsnips, radish, turnips Refrigerator crisper: 1-2 weeks Remove green tops and store in mesh bags. Trim taproots from radishes before storing. Wash before eating.
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower Refrigerator in perforated mesh bag: 3-6 days Remove outer leaves from cabbage before storing. Wash before eating.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions (red, white, yellow Room temperature: 2-4 weeks Store in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from light. Scrub well before cooking.
Bell peppers Refrigerator up to 5 days Store in a mesh bag and rinse before eating.
Winter squash Room temperature up to 3 months Length of time a winter squash can be stored at room temperature depends on the size and variety.  Store in a cool, dark place.
Pumpkin Up to 1 month at room temperature Scrub or wash the outside of the pumpkin before cutting.

   
*Note: These are general guidelines for storing garden produce. If produce develops mold, discoloration, a foul odor or if the texture changes significantly (for example a cucumber that becomes soft and mushy), dispose of the product and do not attempt to consume.

This material was developed by a WIC Dietetic Intern, Kimberley Zisman, utilizing fact sheets and handouts from these Extension Services and resources:

Grow It, Eat It, Freeze It - The Basics of Freezing Foods at Home | University of Maryland Extension 

(PDF) http://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/Store_produce_newsrelease_final.pdf | University of Wisconsin Extension 

(PDF) http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/storage | Cornell Cooperative Extension 

Harvesting and Storing Home Garden Vegetables | University of Minnesota Extension