Ever wonder why your produce keeps spoiling, over and over again, at a rate that seems unnaturally accelerated? How hard is it, really, to keep produce from going bad? You’re not the only one having difficulties. The average American family trashes 1/6 of their food in any given year. Clearly, this is a waste, and an unnecessary one at that.

By storing your fruits and vegetables properly, you’ll save yourself cash, eat more vegetables, and do a pinch more to help save the world. Knowing a few basics will stretch the life of your produce by days, giving you ample time to eat em’ up.

Fruit Storage Tips

One of the most common reasons for the premature spoiling of vegetables is due to the gas Ethylene. This gas is odorless and colorless, so it’s difficult to detect. Ethylene naturally emits from a variety of fruits that are commonly kept in the refrigerator – apples, bananas, peaches, tomatoes, to name a few. Ethylene occurs naturally and is harmless to humans. To your vegetables, on the other hand, it is a spoiler. Spinach leaves will wilt and yellow within a day or two if stored next to an ethylene emitter.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to simply separate your fruits and vegetables into two different drawers in your refrigerator. Some of these ethylene emitters don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated, though. Here’s a quick list for your reference:

Fruits To Refrigerate: Honeydew, Figs, Apples, Cantaloupe, Apricots

Fruits To Leave On Counter: Bananas, Avocados, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums

Vegetable Storage Tips

Some produce is kept on the countertop, while others are refrigerated. Here’s another quick list for you to consider:

Vegetables To Refrigerate: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Corn (best left un-shucked), Grapes, Green Beans, Green Onions, Herbs, Leafy Greens, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, (in a brown paper bag), Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Sprouts, Summer Squash

Vegetables To Leave On Counter: Basil, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Jicama, Peppers

When storing fruits and vegetables suitable for the countertop, be sure to place them out of direct sunlight, and preferably in a cooler part of the house. Make sure to leave some out on the table. You’re sure to eat more raw fruits and veggies if they’re readily accessible. They also have a lovely, subtle aroma.

For refrigerated produce, be sure to place them in perforated plastic bags before putting them in the vegetable crisper. This will extend their life even longer. Feel free to wash these vegetables before putting them in the fridge, but be sure that they are pretty dry before they go into their plastic bags.

Also be sure to remove the green tops from all root vegetables (radishes, turnips, carrots, etc.). The greens will leach moisture and nutrients from the roots, making them less nutritious and shortening their shelf life.