Food storage

Squash

Strawberries

Carrots

Frozen tomato

Fruit and vegetable storage

According to a report from consulting firm Value Chain Management International, Canadians are wasting as much as $31 billion dollars in food every year. By our calculations, that’s almost $900 in food waste for every child, woman and man in this country.

How can we change that? Well, we can start by storing our fruits and vegetables in a way that ensures they last as long as possible. This page will help you do that.

Fruits | Vegetables

 

Fruits 

Apples

Small amounts will keep up to a month is a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Cover larger quantities loosely with plastic and store in the garage or fruit cellar.

Apricots

Store ripe apricots in the refrigerator. Ripen unripe fruits on the counter, out of direct sunlight.

Blueberries

Cover loosely and store in the refrigerator but eat as soon as possible. Freeze in a single layer on a pan and transfer to a freezer bag once they are frozen.

Cherries

Refrigerate as soon as you can. Chilling both preserves and improves the flavour.

Cranberries

These sturdy fruits will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Freeze in a single layer on a pan and transfer to a freezer bag once they are frozen.

Currants

Currants will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days after picking (reds usually last longer than blacks).

Gooseberries

Store in the refrigerator—unwashed, dry and lightly covered—for several days.

Grapes

They should keep for about a week in a refrigerator if they are loosely wrapped or in a ventilated plastic bag in a single layer.

Muskmelon

Melons will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Nectarines

Store ripe nectarines in the refrigerate in a single layer for up to a week.

Peaches

Keep peaches at room temperature out of direct sun until ripe, then keep in the refrigerator in a single layer for a maximum of five days. Overripe peaches should be used immediately.

Pears

Refrigerate ripe pears. They should be used within about two days of purchase.

Plums

Ripen plums at room temperature in a loosely closed brown paper bag or. At least, out of direct sunlight. Ripe plums should be kept in the refrigerator and eaten as soon as you can.

Raspberries

The most fragile of all berries, raspberries are highly perishable and must be refrigerated if not consumed immediately. Freeze in a single layer on a pan and transfer to a freezer bag once they are frozen.

Rhubarb

Wrap and refrigerate. If cleaned and cut into pieces or blanched and covered with a light syrup, rhubarb can also be frozen.

Strawberries

Strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator—hulls intact, unwashed, lightly covered, in a single layer—if used within three to six days. Freeze in a single layer on a pan and transfer to a freezer bag once they are frozen.

 

Vegetables 

Asian vegetables
Cabbages—Nappa, bok choy and mustard—will keep well for a week at the bottom of the refrigerator if wrapped in plastic. Chinese broccoli and spinach can be stored in the same way but will wilt and dry out if not used soon after purchase.

Asparagus

Asparagus can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can either wrap the stem ends in damp paper towels and cover the entire bunch with plastic wrap or stand the asparagus straight up in a jug of water.

Beans (green and yellow)

Refrigerate beans, dry, unwashed and bagged in plastic, for up to one week.

Beets

Keep beets loosely wrapped in paper towel in refrigerator crisper for up to one week. You can also keep them in a root cellar or other cool location.

Broccoli

Keep broccoli in a perforated bag in the refrigerator crisper for up to five days.

Brussels sprouts

If loosely wrapped in paper towel in a plastic bag, these hearty vegetables will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator crisper.

Cabbage

Cabbages will keep for several weeks in a moisture-proof bag. Winter cabbages will keep even longer if kept moist and cool in a root cellar or cold-storage area.

Carrots

Immediately remove the leafy green tops if you buy them like this as those greens pull moisture and vitamins from the root, leaving them wilted and tough. Store in a plastic bag for up to three weeks in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Carrots purchased in clear plastic bags should be stored, as is, in the refrigerator’s crisper. They will keep even longer in a root cellar.

Cauliflower

Store in the refrigerator, unwrapped, for up to five days.

Celery

In plastic bags, they will keep in the refrigerator crisper for a week or more. If purchased at the farm gate, wrap in newspaper and store in a cool dark room for a short period of time.

Corn

Natural sugar in corn starts to turn to starch very soon after picking so it’s best to eat it as soon as you can. Until you do, keep it moist and cool. Immediately refrigerate it in a plastic bag and try to use within three days.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator crisper in their original plastic bag.

Eggplant

Stored wrapped and in a refrigerator vegetable crisper for a few days.

Garlic

Keep them clean, firm and dry in a dry, well-ventilated location.

Leeks

Trim bruised or damaged leaves before storing. Keep loosely wrapped and damp for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Lettuce

Refrigerate unwashed in its original packaging or well-wrapped in paper.

Mushrooms

Use fresh mushrooms as soon as you can but they will keep for several days in a cold vegetable crisper. For button, criminal and Portobello mushrooms, refrigerate in a paper bag, wiping or rinsing and patting dry before using. Shiitake and Oyster varieties should be refrigerated in a container covered with a damp cloth or paper towel to prevent drying.

Onions (cooking, yellow skins, Spanish and reds)

If they are kept in their mesh bags and kept cool, dry and in the dark, they should last for about a month.

Onions (green)

Trim them immediately and refrigerate in a plastic bag. They should last up to a week.

Parsnips

Parsnips are good for several weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper.

Peas (green)

It’s best to eat these right away because like corn, their sugar starts turning to starch as soon as they are harvested. Bagged in plastic and kept in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper, you can store peas for several days.

Peppers (field)

Keep them for about a week in the crisper.

Potatoes

If you can, store potatoes in the root cellar out of direct sunlight at around 7 to 10°C. Keep them dry and cover them loosely with clean burlap or ventilated plastic to ensure good air circulation. FYI: Sweet potatoes bruise easily so handle with care.

Pumpkin

Kept in a cool, dry place, they should be good for several months. Once cut up, wrap it in plastic, put it in the refrigerator and use it within five days. Or, cook it and freeze it for up to six months.

Radishes

Store bunched radishes, leaves removed and wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. Bagged radishes, also kept in the refrigerator, should be eaten within a week. Tip: If soft, put radishes in ice water for an hour or two to revive them.

Rutabaga

Keep rutabaga cool and dry or just keep it in the refrigerator. Waxed rutabaga will keep for up to three months.

Spinach

Spinach is quite perishable. Wrap it and store it in the refrigerator but eat it as soon as you can.

Squash

To store for several weeks at home, If you keep cool and dry with good air circulation, you should have great product—especially the butternut and hubbard varieties—for several weeks.

Summer squash (pattypans, yellow squashes, marrows and zucchini)

These vegetables have tender skins and bruise easily, so handle with care. Wrap them in plastic and keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated. Instead, store them in a cool, dry place at about 12°C. Once cooked, they can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for four to five days. Freeze cooked sweet potatoes in a packed, airtight container (with a half-inch space at the top) for up to a year.

Tomatoes

Store tomatoes out of direct sunlight in a cool spot. Ripe tomatoes will keep for a few days while unripe tomatoes will start to ripen slowly. Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator.

Zucchini

These vegetables have tender skins and bruise easily, so handle with care. Wrap them in plastic and keep them in the refrigerator for up to five days.