We’ve all been there. Walking circles around the produce section, hoping someone will notice the helpless look on our faces. Dreaming that one day we’ll be bestowed with the eternal wisdom of knowing what produce is best to take home. Look no further, my friends. In this article, you’ll find not only the knowledge to take home produce that won’t rot in a day, but also the wisdom of how to store it properly in our fridges. Since we’re in the summer season, this article will focus on summer produce.
One of the most common fruits we eat. Thankfully, also one of the simplest. The signs you have a rotten apple are bruises, wrinkled skin, and a brown color. Apples like cool and dark places to ripen. Try wrapping them in newspaper and storing them in a box. You can also freeze them; however, they’ll lose some crispness and flavor. Only freeze them if you’re going to be cooking them like for pies or applesauce.
A notoriously finnicky fruit. Avocados should have dark purple skin. A soft but not mushy interior. Ripe avocados should be eaten day of; so, if you want to leave your avocado in the fridge for a while, pick a dark green skin, and firm interior. If you’ve cut your avocados open and want them to last longer, seal the flesh with a sprinkle of lemon juice, lime juice, or olive oil. Wrap the halves in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Another commonly consumed fruit. The more brown spots a banana has, the riper it is. If you want your bananas to last a few days without intervention, pick yellow bananas with a slight bit of green on them. You can hang bananas to slow their ripening process. You can wrap the stems in plastic to slow the release of ethylene. If you want to freeze bananas, wait until they’re ripe. Banana skins turn brown in extreme cold, so you won’t be able to tell when it’s ripe.
Blackberries and Raspberries
You want blackberries to have a deep black color. When you pinch them, it should have a slightly tender feel. If your blackberries are in a plastic box, flip it upside down. If the berries stick to the paper, they’re overripe and about to mold. The best way to keep your blackberries fresh is to keep them as dry as possible. If you wash them, make sure to dry each berry and the container it’s in.
You want your cherries to have a dark red, bright red, yellowish red, or black color. Cherries should aways be refrigerated. A ripe cherry has shiny skin and should feel firm when you gently pinch it. As with most fruit, make sure it’s as dry as possible before you store it in the fridge. If you’re going to freeze cherries, wait until they’re ripe. They will not ripen in the freezer.
The outside of cantaloupe should have a straw-colored rind with some spots of green. You can press on the stem and if it gives a little under pressure it’s ready to eat. You can also shake the melon, if the seeds rattle inside, it’s ripe. You can store cantaloupe in a cool, dry spot for a few days. Or in your fridge for about five days. Wrap cantaloupe slices in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
The rind should be creamy yellow with no green color on it. It should feel smooth and waxy when you touch it. If the bottom is slightly soft when you push on it, it’s good to eat. It ripens best when it’s warm, but you can store it in the fridge if you want it to last longer. As with any melon slice, wrap it in plastic wrap before it goes into the fridge.
It will have a deep hollow sound when you thump it. You want the rind to look dark and dull for a ripe watermelon. If you push on the stem and it’s a little soft, it’s ready to eat. Store watermelon in room temperature to ripen it quickly. Wrap slices in plastic wrap to prevent molding when it’s stored in the fridge.
Peaches and Plums
Both fruits have the same way to test their ripeness. When gently squeezed, it should feel a little soft. For peaches, you want a dark yellow color. For plums, the skin should be purple or black. Storing both at room temperature ensures quick ripening. If you want them to last a little longer, you can cut large holes in a bag so the fruit can breathe. As well as refrigerating them.
The most debated fruit of our society, tomatoes should be a vibrant red. You want the skin to have no green spots on it. When you gently squeeze it, it should be a little soft. Always refrigerate for the best tasting tomato.
For this citrussy fruit, size matters more than color. Most lemons you’ll find in the store are yellow. You want lemons to measure about two inches in diameter. A good way to practice this, is to take two fingers and the lemon should be about that length. Refrigerate them for the best taste.
Lightly scratch the peel and if the fruit smells like lime, you’re guaranteed a sour treat. A heavier lime indicates more juice in the lime, which means it’s riper. When you squeeze it should be a little soft. Put this delightful citrus in the fridge to store.
When you squeeze a mango, it should feel a little soft. You want the skin to have mostly orange or yellow spots. While you can refrigerate a mango, they are a tropical fruit and ripen better in warmer conditions.
Possibly the most underused vegetable in this list, you want beets to feel heavy and firm. If the leaves are still attached to the beet, they should be bright green and fresh looking. It’s best to store beets in the coolest, darkest part of your fridge.
A summer favorite, bell pepper skin should be red with no other color. It should feel smooth and firm to touch. A fully grown pepper will be a little bigger than half your hand. Always refrigerate for the best taste.
It should always be a bright green color. The stems should be firm and crispy. If it has even a touch of brown on it, leave it alone. For best storage, take off whatever coverings you find in the grocery store. Instead, individually wrap it in aluminum foil.
A rabbit’s favorite treat, carrots should always be firm and tender to touch. Its iconic bright orange color is the best way to tell if a carrot is starting to go bad. If you’re buying baby carrots in a bag, check the bottom to make sure there’s no water in it. A little bit of moisture is fine, a puddle at the bottom is not. Store them in the coolest, darkest part of your fridge. You can blanch and freeze them if you want them to last longer.
It should always look clean and smell sweet. The corn husk must be a bright green color. Stay away from dry husks. And watch out for small brown holes in the husks. It means little bugs have most likely infested the vegetable. Corn is best eaten on the same day you’ve bought it. But if you want to refrigerate it, individually wrap it to store.
It should never have soft spots, dimples, wrinkles, or other colors. Cucumbers should be firm and completely green. Store them in the warmest part of your fridge, individually wrapped in plastic wrap.
Eggplants should be their signature purple color on the outside. It should be firm but not hard when you squeeze it. Store in a cool, dark place like your pantry.
They should be tender and long. When you bend a green bean, it should be stiff but a little flexible. Avoid ones that bend too much or have tough skin. Always refrigerate green beans.
It should be a vibrant green color with smooth, tender, blemish-free pods. Healthy okras should be two to three inches long. You should never wash okras before putting them in the fridge. If you’re going to cover okras, they should be loosely wrapped with holes to keep mold away.
It should never have cracks or soft spots on the skin. The stem should feel dry and firm to touch. If you’ve already purchased a summer squash, put your fingernail into the skin. If it’s hard to push into the skin, you have ripe summer squash.
Zucchini should feel heavy to hold. Its skin will be smooth. You can take a bag and poke holes so your zucchini will be able to breathe while it stays in the fridge.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any produce tips you like to use! Thank you for reading this article, I hope it helps with future trips to the store!
Featured image from istockphoto
Hi, my name is Adah! Thanks for stopping by! Growing up, my grandma taught me so many recipes and tips for cooking in the kitchen. I’m so excited to share those things with all of you. You can find me on Instagram and Tiktok @shmaduh if you want to see more of my content.