Different fruits and vegetables require different treatment in order to preserve their integrity, micronutrient contents and especially taste over the longest period possible.

Time and again I am confronted with new insights like tomatoes should not be kept in the refridgerator, because they lose their aroma in cold climate, but I have yet to find a unified resource to learn about best practices in storing these goods.

Are you acquainted with such a resource or have knowledge yourself about this topic?

Thank you for sharing.

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    The best source on this, as with so many other things from the kitchen, is the book On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. He has a short text on most of the usual and quite a lot of the unusual vegetables in Western cuisine, and gives storage tips for each. – rumtscho Jul 13 '11 at 15:04
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    @rumtscho: Since the OP did ask for resources, I'd say your comment is pretty much an answer. – Cascabel Jul 13 '11 at 20:39
  • Also see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/4993/… – Martha F. Jul 14 '11 at 2:57
  • Thank you, rumtscho. I agree with Jefromi - your comment is probably the best 'answer'. – Simon Voggeneder Jul 14 '11 at 7:19

There is a very good book called On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee. It is a great source on food science, and has chapters on all food groups. In the chapters on food and vegetables, he gives a short text on each fruit resp. vegetable, including storage recommendations. He covers most common plants eaten in Western cuisine, plus quite a few rare ones (fiddleheads, nopales).

The book is also a highly recommended reading material for anybody who wants to know what is happening in their pan, not just for practical advice. It makes a good reference work, but can be also read from beginning to end. If you find the matter interesting, this is one of the best books you can choose.

  • I managed to find this at a used book store; it's been around long enough that you could quite possibly find a cheap copy. – Cascabel Jul 14 '11 at 15:34
  • You can consult it with Google Books. A great resource! – BaffledCook Jul 14 '11 at 23:11

This can actually get into a lot of detail. Especially if you consider that advice for your home may not work for mine. In England I could store butter on the counter, whereas here I need to keep it in the fridge lest I come home to a small puddle.

Some of the very basics off the top of my head:

  • Leafy greens are best stored at 12 degrees Celsius. For those in warmer climates, better 4 degrees than 24.
  • Salad vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots etc.) can be stored in the fridge for longer life. In my experience this doesn't affect their flavour.
  • Root vegetables (onions, potato, beetroot etc.), except carrots, can be stored at room temperature, even when it's warm.
  • Potatoes should be stored in the darkest place possible.
  • vegetables from the solanum family (tomatoes, aubergines and peppers) should be kept apart from the squash family (cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins). I can't remember why this is, though it causes the squash family to spoil faster.

There's plenty more, but I can't think of them right now.

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    The issues of what food to store apart from others tends to be related to issues of ethylene gas (emitters, or sensitivity to). – Joe Jul 14 '11 at 0:18

In general, I store fruit and veg in approximately the same conditions that the supermarket does. You can bet your bottom dollar that they've researched how to get the most time out of their stock.

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    This doesn't actually make sense to me. Supermarkets plan on given vegetables not staying in the store very long. If they're not going to lose much within that period, it's fine to use suboptimal storage conditions in order to gain convenience. For example, their leafy greens are often starting to wilt a bit by the end of the day. Additionally, supermarkets tend to be much more air conditioned than our homes, so even if their conditions are right, setting your AC to 68F/20C and storing things on the counter isn't very practical. – Cascabel Jul 13 '11 at 20:38
  • @Jefromi : some of the supermarkets near me also do strange things like these automatic misting things that spray down the vegetables every so often ... and you just hope they don't get some sort of bacteria in the line. – Joe Jul 14 '11 at 0:14
  • I disagree as well. From what I know, the lifespan of supermarket fruits and vegetables ranges between one and three days with one day being the most common occurrence. Therefore I guess their vegetable and fruit stock is optimized towards this one day of presenting itself to the customer. – Simon Voggeneder Jul 14 '11 at 7:20
  • @SimonVoggeneder, I cannot speak for supermarkets, for I do not know their exact requirements, but I had worked in the food distributor warehouse that supplied mostly restaurateurs and caterers, and most products, including greens and vegetables, were delivered once a week at the most, and, consequently, were expected to last as long. Each special group was stored in separate area, however, to ensure optimal temperature range, and to avoid negative proximal effects that would cause things to ripen faster (there was whole chart about that). – theUg Feb 26 '13 at 4:24

One book that I really like is the Encyclopedia of Country Living. It's more a gardening (and other oddities) book, but after the growing tips for each item, there will be a section discussing storage ... if you should blanch before freezing, canning, dry storage, etc.

It seems I didn't put it back on my shelf when I last referenced it, but I've quoted from it a couple of times, such as for onions and capsicums. Amazon also has it scanned for the 'search within the book' feature.

  • This sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you! – Simon Voggeneder Jul 14 '11 at 7:23

Since other people have given good book resources, I'll provide an answer based on experience.

No matter where you are storing your fruits and vegetables, Debbie Meyer Green Bags will help keep them fresh longer, and thereby tasting better (assuming you follow the instructions like one type of produce per bag, don't use twist ties that will rip the bag, wipe out condensation daily, etc.). I was skeptical about their efficacy (and I typically don't buy any as-seen-on-tv products), but I came across them at a discount store and gave them a try. For most produce, the green bags helped keep them fresh much longer than any other type of storage I've tried.

  • I'm not being compensated to write this. It's just the solution that works for me. :)

[...] I have yet to find a unified resource to learn about best practices in storing these goods.

Are you acquainted with such a resource or have knowledge yourself about this topic?

StillTasty is a useful database.

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