To keep spoilage to a minimum and avoid wasting money, follow the food-storage advice here. Yael T. shares her knowledge about what to refrigerate, what to wash before storage, and what to put in airtight containers. Read on for a “how-to” for each fruit and vegetable. Note that temperature patterns vary in refrigerators, so get to know the colder and warmer zones in yours to maximize freshness.
WHAT DO I REFRIGERATE?
Apples- in a cool zone away from strong-smelling foods, so they won’t absorb odors. If the refrigerator is jammed, you can also store apples in a cool, dark place outside of your fridge.
Beets- in the crisper; lop off greens before refrigerating and use them in a salad or cook them as you would spinach and other greens.
Berries -in a warmer zone of the refrigerator, unwashed, in a dry, covered container.
Broccoli- in the crisper.
Celery -in the crisper.
Cherries -unwashed, in a plastic bag, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator.
Corn- with husks on, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator.
Grapes- unwashed in a plastic bag or their plastic clam shell container, in a cool zone; pick out any spoiled grapes, since one bad one can spoil the bunch.
Green beans- in an airtight container in a moderate zone; don’t snap off ends until they’re ready to be used.
Leafy greens -in a salad spinner (if you have one and have room in the fridge) after washing or in the crisper. Otherwise, keep washed greens in a plastic bag lined with a clean cloth or paper towels; loosely tie top of bag to maintain moisture.
Melons- once they’ve ripened, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Wash the outside of a melon before cutting to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Mushrooms- unwashed, in a paper bag, in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Never store them in plastic, which traps moisture and leads to slime.
Peppers -in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Leave them whole, and unwashed.
Yellow squash/zucchini -in a plastic bag in a warmer zone of the refrigerator. Leave them unwashed, and use within two or three days of purchase.
WHAT NOT TO REFRIGERATE?
Avocados- in a brown-paper bag; add an apple or banana to the bag to accelerate ripening. Once ripe, refrigerate.
Bananas- in a fruit bowl on the counter.
Onions- in a dark, dry, well-ventilated place. Store them away from potatoes, since they can absorb the potatoes moisture and spoilage-inducing ethylene gas.
Stone fruits- including nectarines, peaches, and plums, in a brown-paper bag at room temperature to speed ripening. Refrigerate once ripe.
Potatoes- in a cool place, away from light. Don’t refrigerate, since the moisture will encourage sprouting.
Tomatoes- always at room temperature but not in direct sunlight. When the tomatoes get soft, I always place them back in the refrigerator.