Proper vegetable storage and fruit storage is important for a number of reasons. By properly storing fruits and vegetables, you can:
- maintain the integrity of the fruit or vegetable
- further ripen some fruit
- prevent spoilage
- prevent illness
- get the best value for your purchasing dollar
Moreover, improper storage of certain whole fresh fruits and fresh vegetables may cause deterioration of both their flavour and nutrition profile.
Visit our fruit and vegetable storage guide to learn about the best storage methods for particular fruits and vegetables, or read the sections below to learn more about:
Washing Fruits and Vegetables
With the exception of leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables have a natural protective coating and should not be washed before storing as washing will hasten deterioration.
- Wash fruits and vegetables under clean, cool, running water just before you prepare or eat them, even if you intend to remove the skin/peel.
- Use clean cutting boards and utensils when preparing produce.
Leafy greens such as iceberg, romaine, Boston, Bibb, green & red leaf lettuce and spinach will keep fresher if washed before storage. Follow these easy steps.
- Wash with clean, cool running water.
- Discard wilted, discolored or blemished leaves.
- Carefully dry in salad spinner or on clean paper towels.
- Store in salad spinner or wrap lettuce loosely in clean paper towels and store in sealed plastic bag or container.
- Use within 1 week.
- Lettuce turns pinkish-brown due to oxidation (being cut and exposed to oxygen) or when exposed to ethylene. Discard any brown ends or leaves.
- Lettuce and spinach purchased in airtight packages should be refrigerated "as is" and washed when opened for use.
How to Ripen Fruit
Some fruits do not ripen once harvested and are ready to eat and enjoy when you buy them while others will continue to ripen after harvest, because they naturally produce a gas called ethylene, (e.g. apple. tomatoes, ripe banana). Ethylene triggers the ripening process; exposure to this ethylene also causes vegetable deterioration, therefore fruits and vegetables should be stored separately in the refrigerator. Download CPMA’s Home Storage Guide for full details and a comprehensive guide to storing ripe and ripening fruit.
It's easy to ripen fruit at home by following these simple steps:
- Place fruit in paper bag. Loosely close the bag.
- Leave at room temperature but away from direct sunlight.
- Fruits ripen at different rates depending on the type of fruit and the temperature of the room. Check on the fruit every day to ensure the best possible ripeness and consult CPMA’s Home Storage Guide for more information about timelines, etc.
- To check ripeness, place fruit in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently. If the fruit responds to light pressure and smells slightly sweet, it's ready to eat! If it's not ready, leave it in the bag and check again each day until ripe.
- Hasten the ripening process by adding a ripe banana or an apple to the bag.
- Once the fruit is ripe, eat it right away for maximum flavour, aroma and texture, or it may be stored refrigerated for a short time according to the information provided in CPMA’s Home Storage Guide