Tips on storing fruit, vegetables

BURNING QUESTIONS

November 01, 2006|By Erica Marcus | Erica Marcus,Newsday

Where should I store fruit and vegetables?

Fruit and vegetables manifest strong and diverse preferences for how they should be stored. Going against these preferences can result in a loss of flavor or texture. Tomatoes, for example, should never be refrigerated; the cold air will kill their taste. Apples, on the other hand, will retain their firm texture much longer if kept just above freezing.

Home cooks have only two storage temperatures available to them: room temperature and refrigerator temperature, which is usually between 35 and 38 degrees. Unfortunately, some produce prefer climates in between. Citrus fruit, for example, lasts longest at about 50 degrees.

I offer the following advice, based on various sources, including "Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Better Taste," a paper published by the University of California at Davis' Post-Harvest Technology Center:

Store only at room temperature: bananas, ginger, jicama, persimmons, pineapple (uncut), plantains, pomegranates, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash.

Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for no more than three days: cucumbers, eggplant, peppers.

Store at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate: avocados, kiwis, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums.

Store at room temperature for less than a week; in the refrigerator for longer periods: grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines.

Store in the refrigerator: apples, apricots, artichokes, asparagus, beets, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, corn, figs, grapes, green beans, leafy vegetables, leeks, lima beans, mushrooms, peas, radishes, scallions, spinach, zucchini, cut fruit and vegetables.

Store in dark, well-ventilated place: potatoes, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes.

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to burningquestions@newsday.com, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food/Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.

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