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Publication #FCS8909

Food Safety: Keeping Produce Fresh1

Jennifer Hillan and Amarat Simonne2

Have you ever wondered whether to store watermelon in the refrigerator or on the counter? Read on for storage guidelines and other tips for keeping your fruits and vegetables as fresh and safe to eat as possible!

  • Choose produce that has been kept refrigerated or cool and looks fresh and undamaged.

  • Place soft produce on top of heavier items so it doesn't get bruised.

  • Keep fresh produce cool when taking it home from the store or farmer's market.

  • Store fresh produce in the right place – either on a counter top away from direct sunlight, or in the refrigerator (see Table 1).

  • Wash fresh produce (with cool running water only) just before using.

  • Clean everything – utensils, cutting boards, dishware, and hands – before preparing produce.

Tables

Table 1. 

TYPE OF PRODUCE

STORAGE TIME & TEMPERATURE

Climacteric Fruits (temperate):

Apricots, avocados, figs, kiwifruit, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums

Ripen at room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 3–5 days

Climacteric Fruits (tropical):

Bananas*, mangoes*, pineapple*, plantains*

Room temperature, but not beyond peak ripeness

Small Fruits and Berries:

Grapes

Refrigerated, 3–5 days

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries

Refrigerated, 2–3 days

Melons:

Cantaloupe*,watermelon*

Room temperature when whole, but refrigerated when cut

Other Fruits:

Apples

Room temperature, up to one week, or refrigerated, up to one month

Citrus (grapefruit, lemons, oranges)

Room temperature for a few days, or refrigerated, up to two weeks

Vegetables:

Artichokes

Refrigerated, 2-3 days

Broccoli, celery, green onions, lettuce, peas, summer squash

Refrigerated, 3-5 days

Carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn

Refrigerated, up to 1 week

Asparagus, cabbage, radishes

Refrigerated, up to 2 weeks

Greens (mustard, kale, collard, spinach)

Refrigerated, 2–3 weeks

Cucumbers*, eggplant*, tomatoes*, winter squash*, peppers*

Room temperature

Garlic*, onions*

Room temperature, ventilated storage

Potatoes*

Room temperature, ventilated storage, away from light

Cut fruit/vegetables and fresh herbs

Refrigerated and eaten as soon as possible

* Storage times vary for these items depending on your storage conditions. Look at the quality of the produce to decide whether to use it or throw it away.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8909, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published May 2010. Reviewed March 2013. Please visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator/trainer, and Amarat Simmone, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.