Food Safety: Keeping Produce Fresh1

Jennifer Hillan and Amarat Simonne 2

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.


Table 1. 



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:


Refrigerated, 3–5 days

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries

Refrigerated, 2–3 days



Room temperature when whole, but refrigerated when cut

Other Fruits:


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



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


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.


1. This document is FCS8909, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 2010. Reviewed July 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator/trainer and Amarat Simmone, Ph.D., professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FCS8909

Date: 2019-07-10
Simonne, Amarat

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