If you’ve ever come home from the grocery store with a haul of fresh fruits and vegetables or unpacked your weekly Home Chef box only to find yourself unsure of how to store everything properly, you’re not alone. It turns out a majority of Americans are concerned about how much unused food they’re throwing away, both from a cost and waste perspective. A recent study showed that 21% of the food each of us buy goes to waste, with the average American family of four spending $1,800 per year on food that they don’t eat and each individual toss about 20 pounds of food per month, adding up to 238 pounds of wasted food a year. These concerns are justified, as household food waste accounts for more than any other sector in America – including grocery stores! To help you get the most out of your produce and keep as much food as possible out of landfills, we’ve broken down the best storage methods for some of the most common fresh fruits and veggies that can leave even the most seasoned shoppers confused.
In the Refrigerator
Asparagus: Use the florist method for asparagus that stays fresh for the whole week. Simply trim the woody ends and store upright in a jar of water loosely tented with a plastic bag.
Apples: Did you know that apples you buy at the store are often refrigerated for weeks or even months before they arrive in your produce aisle? If you’re not planning to eat them within a few days, they’ll keep for up to two weeks in your crisper drawer.
Summer Squash: zucchini and yellow squash are water-packed veggies, which means they’ll fare best in the crisper drawer. Keeping them in a plastic bag will help keep its moisture for one week.
Carrots: One of the heartier veggies you can buy, carrots will last unpeeled in the crisper drawer for up to three weeks.
Cucumbers: Like summer squash, cucumbers are loaded with water, which is what makes them so refreshing to eat! Store them in the crisper in a plastic bag, and it’ll stay fresh for up to two weeks.
Berries and Stone-fruits: The most delicate produce on this list, berries and stone-fruits are best when stored in a container with vents (which they often come pre-packed in), but regardless should be enjoyed within the week for the juiciest flavor and texture.
Fresh Herbs: Like asparagus, the florist method will keep leafy herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro, and even scallions fresh for up to 2 weeks. Just be sure to change the water if it starts looking a little murky at any point.
In a Cool, Dry Place
Potatoes: Regardless of variety, potatoes last longest when stored in a cool, ventilated, and dark place – like the inside of your pantry, or even in a dutch oven with the lid partially on. When stored correctly, they can last for up to a month – making them a great pantry staple.
Onions and garlic: Similar to potatoes, onions and garlic fare best when stored in their protective papery skin, out of direct sunlight and heat.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes can be stored out on the counter, where they’ll continue to ripen to perfection. If you aren’t planning on using them right away, store them stem-side down which will help them last up to two weeks.
Avocados: These popular stone fruits can go from rock hard to overripe in a matter of days, so be sure to purchase them unripe unless using the same day. Once ripe, they can be stored in the fridge for up to a week until you’re ready to whip up that famous guacamole recipe for your next cookout.