Here is part one of Mamabake’s Guide to Storing Fruit and Vegetables. This is a three part series and we begin with everything from apples to coconuts. The length of time you can keep fruits and vegetables listed indicates how long the fruit or vegetable will be at its best. After that it will start to degrade a little but is still fine to use.
Apples – apples will stay fresh on the counter for 2 days. To keep for longer, place in the crisper drawer or in a bowl in your fridge with a damp paper towel draped over the top. For long term storage of apples, wrap each one individually in paper, pack in boxes with shredded paper in a cold basement cellar or similar. If you have damaged apples, don’t keep them with the others; it will release more ethylene and cause everything to ripen or rot faster. Cook your damaged apples as soon as the damage is seen or occurs. Apple recipes, here.
Artichoke – place your artichokes in the vegetable drawer of your fridge, not in a plastic bag because plastic bags keep in moisture and will cause it to rot more quickly
Asparagus – asparagus spears need moisture to stay crisp and fresh so stand them upright in a container with a few centimetres of water and cover the whole thing with a plastic bag. Asparagus will stay crisp up to 4 days this way
Avocado – ripe avocados should be stored in the fridge and will keep for 3-4 days this way. Unripe avocados will ripen on the counter within about a week but you can speed up this process by placing the avocado in a paper bag with a ripening banana and apple which will release ethylene. Avocado recipes, here.
Bamboo shoots – submerge in water and they can be kept for up to 4 days, but the water must be changed daily
Banana – Ripen unripe bananas on the counter in the presence of apples. Place ripened bananas in the fridge but they need to be consumed quickly. Overripe bananas are best peeled and the fruit stored in zip lock bags in the freezer. Banana recipes, here.
Beans – green beans are best stored in the fridge in a plastic bag to retain moisture. They can be kept for up to 4 days but will start to degrade a little after this. Some beans recipes, here.
Bean shoots – damp bean shoots degrade very quickly so they are best used within 1 or 2 days of purchase. You can keep them a couple days longer if you cover them with water in a bowl and top with a piece of lemon but you will need to change the water every day
Beetroot – beetroot should be separated from the leaves which sap moisture from the root. Eat the leaves within 2 days and the root can be kept in the vegetable drawer for up to 10 days. Beetroot recipes, here.
Blackberries and Blueberries – berries are best consumed within 2-3 days of picking or purchase. Do not wash them until you plan to consume them. Keep them in their punnets or in a container lined with paper towel. Remove any mouldy berries as soon as you see them. Blueberry recipes, here.
Bok Choy and Chinese Brocolli – keep in a plastic bag for up to 4 days and do not wash the vegetable until you are ready to use it
Brocolli and Brocollini – wrap broccoli with damp paper towels or within a plastic bag for up to 3-4 days. Broccoli recipes, here.
Brussel Sprouts – Keep sprouts in a bowl or open container with their outer leaves on to protect the insides. Sprouts can be kept for several weeks.
Burdock root – cover burdock with damp paper towel in the fridge for up to a week
Cabbage – Keep uncut cabbage tightly wrapped in cling film until ready to use. You can keep a cabbage for a few weeks this way. Keep cut cabbage wrapped tightly in cling film or in an airtight container but try to use it within 3 days.
Cantaloupe – ripe cantaloupe can be kept in the fridge in the crisper for up to 5 days, though the less ripe it is the longer it can be kept for. But you should always buy a ripe melon because it gains no fragrance once it has been picked
Capsicum – keep capsicums loose in the vegetable drawer for 5 days to one week. Capsicum recipes, here.
Carambola – otherwise known as star fruit. Wrap on a plate or tray with cling film and star fruit can keep for a week to 2 weeks depending on ripeness
Carrot – carrots continue to give off moisture even once picked. The greens should be removed and the carrots placed loose in the vegetable drawer which should be lined with paper towel to absorb moisture. Carrots can keep for several months this way, as long as the drawer is lined with paper and replaced regularly and additional moisture from other vegetables does not affect the carrots
Cassava – cassava root can be kept in water for a few days in the fridge though traditionally they are also reburied under soil in trenches to prevent moisture loss
Cauliflower – full cauliflower heads can be kept for up to 2 weeks in the fridge if loosely wrapped with cling film. Cut pieces should be kept in a zip lock bag and will keep for up to a week. Cauliflower recipes, here.
Celeriac – can be kept unwrapped at the bottom of the fridge for several weeks. When cut they will last a week or two, just cut off the dried cut surface to refresh
Celery – unlike popular perception, celery keeps longest when wrapped in paper towels or when kept in a plastic bag; it does not keep as well when stored upright in a container full of water
Chard – store unwashed chard leaves in a plastic bag which has as much air as possible squeezed out of it before sealing. Leaves will last up to 5 days this way
Citrus – ripe citrus will keep for a few days at room temperature but you can extend their life by a week or so by keeping them in the fridge. Do not keep them bagged where they press up against each other. One rotten citrus will quickly spoil the others. Citrus require air flow for good storage. Lemon recipes, here.
Coconut – whole coconuts with the rough skin on and uncut can keep for a couple of months in the fridge. Young coconuts should also be kept in the fridge and they should last 2-3 weeks depending on their freshness. Keep in mind that most coconuts are sourced from the Phillipines or Thailand, so their travel time will affect the freshness. Coconut recipes, here.