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COVID-19 VACCINE COLD STORAGE SOLUTIONS

Your Guide to Produce Storage

How to get the longest life and best taste out of your fruits and vegetables

Produce Image - Green Apple

MARKET, HOME, REFRIGERATOR. MARKET, HOME, REFRIGERATOR. 

For many of us, this is our grocery shopping routine. It’s almost second nature to take fresh produce purchased at the grocery store or farmer’s market, bring it home, and immediately place it into the refrigerator for, what we assume, is safe keeping. However, our routine may not be the best for all produce. Outlined within this brief guide are tips and tricks to help you properly prepare and store fresh produce.

TIPS & TRICKS TO PROPERLY PREPARE AND STORE PRODUCE

Storing produce is not just about where you keep it. To get the longest life and freshest taste out of your greens, you also must consider factors like humidity, temperature, light conditions, when to rinse your fruits and vegetables, and which ones emit or are sensitive to ethylene. By storing each item under its recommended conditions, you can prolong the life of your produce, cutting down those constant trips to the grocery store and bringing out the best flavor in your food. 

Shelf of Fruit

PREPARING YOUR PRODUCE FOR STORAGE 

Different produce require different storage procedures and conditions. For example, apples are best stored in the crisper in a perforated bag, while avocados are best stored on the counter, in the open, until they ripen. To that end, some general guidelines to prepare your produce include 


Let it Breathe. Like humans, fresh produce breathes, also known as respiration. Fruits and vegetables need room to breathe. So, as you prepare to store, be conscientious about where you are storing. Generally speaking, most fresh produce should not be stored in air-tight containers, but in breathable, perforated bags or similar containers that allow air flow and circulation.  


Stay Chill(ed). Generally speaking, you will want to keep your produce cooler to slow the respiration process. The warmer the temperature gets, the faster or more accelerated the respiration process becomes. So, chilling your produce will not only slow this process but, by default, also slows the spoiling process. 


Rinse, Or Not. Conventional wisdom is that once we get our produce home, we rinse it to “clean” it prior to storage. However, washing produce prior to cooking or consumption adds moisture, which when stored, can speed up spoiling. Dirt all over your tomatoes? Leave it. As a general rule, do not wash produce prior to storage; rather, let it be until you intend to cook or consume it.


Keep Whole. Keep fruits and vegetables whole prior to storing them. Not only does this protect the produce from microorganisms, it also helps to prevent accelerated oxidation, where oxygen and the enzymes from the produce meet. This can cause discoloration and faster spoilage of your produce.

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ETHYLENE & PRODUCE RIPENING - WHAT TO KNOW & WHAT NOT TO DO

ETHYLENE & PRODUCE RIPENING - WHAT TO KNOW & WHAT NOT TO DO

Ethylene is a naturally occurring gas that is produced by some fruits and vegetables. Ethylene itself causes cells to degrade, which can cause some fruits and vegetables that are susceptible to ethylene to ripen and spoil faster. 


Ethylene can be both a positive and a negative with respect to fruits and vegetables. On the one hand, it can help to hasten the ripening process, ensuring they are ready to consume more quickly. On the other hand, if stored improperly, they can accelerate the ripening process to a degree where fruits and vegetables spoil more quickly. 

As a general rule, do not place fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene alongside fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene.  The chart below outlines which fruits/vegetables are ethylene producers, which are sensitive, and which are not sensitive. This should assist in properly storing fruits and vegetables to ensure maximum freshness and shelf life. (Note: Some fruits and vegetables are both producers and sensitive, so you’ll want to take extra caution in storing them.)

Ethylene ProducersEthylene SensitiveNot Sensitive to Ethylene
Apples
Avocados
Bananas
Cantaloupe
Kiwi
Mushrooms
Peaches
Pears
Peppers
Tomatoes
Apples
Asparagus
Avocados
Bananas
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Celery
Cucumber
Eggplant
Grapes
Honeydew
Kale
Kiwi
Lemons
Lettuce
Mangos
Mushrooms
Olives
Onions
Peaches
Pears
Peppers
Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Watermelon
Beans (Snap)
Blueberries
Cherries
Grapefruit
Oranges
Pineapple
Potatoes
Raspberries
Strawberries
Tomatoes

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Fruit / Vegetable / HerbSuggested Storage Temperature / LocationStorage LengthStorage InstructionsEthylene
(Gas produced by produce that can hasten ripening or spoil produce faster)

ProducerSensitive
Apples30-40° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 1 monthProduces ethylene; store away from ethylene sensitive produceYesYes
Asparagus32-35° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridge7 daysPlace the whole asparagus stem down in 1-2 inches of water and cover with a plastic bag.
Yes
Avocados (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripenedLeft On Counter 3 to 7 days Paper Bag 1 to 2 daysLeft On Counter Leave at room temperature and allow them to ripen; they will be ripe when they are soft to the touch. Paper Bag Place in paper bag with a banana (produces ethylene) and close it; check on them each day until ripeYesYes
Avocados (Ripe)38-45° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 5 daysWhole Store in the refrigerator until ready for use. Sliced Wrap tightly in plastic wrap with a squirt of lime juice to prolong freshnessYesYes
Bananas (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripenedUp to 7 daysLeave them on the counter and allow them to ripen; they will turn green to yellow as they do so.YesYes
Bananas (Ripe)50-60° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge5 to 7 daysStore at appropriate temperature to prevent premature ripening.YesYes
Basil68-72° F Countertop until ready for useUp to 1 weekWash and dry the basil. Cut off the ends of the stems. Place in a jar with an inch of water. Place at room temperature until ready to use. Be sure to replace water as needed.

Bell Peppers (all colors)45-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeWhole 1 to 2 weeks Sliced 3 to 5 daysWhole Keep in a plastic bag for freshness. Sliced Store in a sealed container with a paper towel inside to absorb moisture.YesYes
Berries (Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries)32-36° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 5 daysDo not wash until you are ready to use or consume. Place berries in a sealed container with a damp paper towel to absorb moisture.

Broccoli32° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.4 to 5 daysWrap whole broccoli in a damp paper towel and place in the refrigerator. Do not place in a sealed container as broccoli needs air.
Yes
Cabbage32° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.1 to 2 monthsPlace unwashed cabbage in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.
Yes
Cantaloupe (Countertop)68-72° F Countertop until ripened unless sliced1 to 2 daysLeft on Counter Leave on the counter and allow it to ripen. When ripe, it will exhibit a sweet aroma. Paper Bag Place in a perforated paper bag and allow to ripen. To quicken the process, place a banana inside the bag. Sliced Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to keep fresh.YesYes
Carrots32-38° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeVaries up to 1 monthCut off the leafy tops and place carrots in a sealed container in water. Without replacing the water, they should stay fresh for about 7 days. If you replace the water, they should stay fresh for about a month.
Yes
Cauliflower41-50° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge7 to 14 daysKeeping it as whole as possible, trim cauliflower so that it fits inside a sealed container to prolong freshness.
Yes
Celery~41° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeWhole 2 to 4 weeks Cut/Sliced 1 to 2 weeksWhole Wrap the entire stalk in aluminum foil, or in a paper towel, and place in a plastic bag. Cut Place in a sealed container submerged in water to maintain moisture.
Yes
Cherries32-35° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 1 weekStore unwashed cherries with stems in a container lined with paper towels to absorb moisture.

Corn60° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge2 to 3 daysStore in a sealed container or a plastic bag.

Cucumber (Countertop)68-72° F Countertop until ripenedUp to 1 weekLeave at room temperature. They will last longer and stay fresher.
Yes
Cucumber (Refrigerator)50-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 5 daysPlace in a plastic bag with a paper towel inside to absorb moisture and prolong freshness.
Yes
Eggplant (Countertop)68-72° F Countertop until ripenedUp to 3 daysLeave at room temperature until ready to consume.
Yes
Eggplant (Refrigerator)46-54° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 3 daysEthylene sensitive. Store away from other produce in a plastic bag or perforated container until ready to consume.
Yes
Grapefruit55-60° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 6 weeksPlace whole or sliced grapefruit in a plastic bag to keep fresh.

Grapes32-35° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.1 to 2 weeksStore unwashed in the container they came in or in a plastic bag.
Yes
Green Beans40-45° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge7 daysStore unwashed, whole green beans in a plastic bag until ready for use/consumption.

Hardy Herbs (Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme)60-70° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge2 to 3 weeksWash and dry the herbs then wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel. Place in a sealed container or bag and store until ready to use.

Honeydew40-50° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge1 to 2 weeksPlace either whole or sliced honeydew in a plastic bag to keep it fresh.
Yes
Jalapenos32-36° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 1 weekWhole Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Sliced Place in a sealed container and refrigerate.YesYes
Kale32-34° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Whole Up to 1 week Prepared Up to 3 daysWhole Store in a plastic bag wrapped in paper towels to absorb moisture Prepared Rise and thoroughly dry then wrap in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag.
Yes
Kiwi (Unripe)32-35° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 6 weeksPlace in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.YesYes
Kiwi (Ripe)32-35° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 1 weekPlace in a sealed container and store in the refrigerator.YesYes
Lemons52-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 1 monthStore whole and keep away from ethylene producers.
Yes
Lettuce (Leaf & Romaine)40° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridge7 to 10 daysKeep intact and wrap in a few paper towels until ready to use.
Yes
Limes48-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 1 monthStore whole and keep away from ethylene producers.
Yes
Mangos (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripened3-4 daysLeave on the counter at room temperature until it’s ripe. To determine ripeness, squeeze slightly. If it is just a bit soft and has a sweet smell, it is likely ripe and can be moved (see ‘ripe mangos’
Yes
Mangos (Ripe)50-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 5 daysWhole Place the whole mango in warmer space in the refrigerator until ready to consume. Sliced Keep sliced mango in a sealed container to prolong its freshness.
Yes
Mushrooms~32° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 7 daysPackaged Leave in packaging but ensure it is perforated to allow mushrooms to breathe. Unpackaged Place in unwashed perforated packaging until ready to use or consume.YesYes
Olives41-50° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 14 daysKeep chilled in the original container. If planning to stuff them, take them out and let sit at room temperature a few hours prior to use.
Yes
Onions (Red & White)32-35° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeWhole 10 to 14 days Peeled/Sliced 7 to 10 daysFor whole and peeled/sliced onions, store in a sealed container and/or away from ethylene producing produce.
Yes
Oranges (Countertop)68-72° F Countertop until ripened3 to 4 daysKeep unwashed until ready to consume. Leave at room temperature. Orange is firm with no soft spots when ripe.

Oranges (Refrigerator)40-45° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 10 daysStore whole in a fruit/vegetable drawer or similar open container.

Peaches (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripened1 to 2 daysKeep unwashed until ready to consume. Leave at room temperature. Peach is ripe when just a bit softYesYes
Peaches (Ripe)31-32° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Whole Up to 1 week Sliced 3 to 4 daysWhole Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Sliced Wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in a sealed container prior to refrigeratingYesYes
Pears (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripened4 to 5 daysKeep unwashed until consuming. Leave at room temperature. To tell if it is ripe, squeeze slightly at the stem end; if it gives, then it’s most likely ready to eat.YesYes
Pears (Ripe)30-31° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Whole Up to 1 week Sliced 3 to 4 daysWhole Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Sliced Wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in a sealed container prior to refrigeratingYesYes
Pineapple (Countertop)68-72° F Countertop until ripened1 to 2 daysLeave at room temperature. Rinse prior to cutting and consuming.

Pineapple (Refrigerator)50-55° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeWhole 1 to 2 days Sliced 3 to 4 daysWhole Store in the warmest part of your refrigerator. Sliced Place in a sealed container until ready to consume.

Soft Herbs (Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Parsley, Tarragon)60-70° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge2 to 3 weeksWash and dry the herbs. Then, trim the ends of the stems and places in a glass or mason jar with about 1" of cool water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store until ready to use. Be sure to replace water as needed.

Spinach30-31° F Store in the coldest portion of your refrigerator.Up to 10 daysStore in a sealed container wrapped in paper towels to absorb moisture.
Yes
Tomatoes (Unripe)68-72° F Countertop until ripened1 to 2 daysLeave uncovered on the counter if you’re going to consume them soon. Similarly, you can place them in a paper bag with a banana to hasten ripening. Ripe tomatoes are generally red.

Tomatoes (Ripe)50-70° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridge1 to 2 weeksWhole Place whole tomatoes uncovered in the refrigerator or pantry. Sliced Store in a sealed container until ready to consume.

Watermelon50-60° F Warmer space in refrigerator or Pantry Zone of your Summit pantry fridgeUp to 5 daysWhole Place whole watermelon uncovered in the refrigerator or pantry. Sliced Wrap in plastic wrap and store until ready to consume.
Yes
Zucchini40° F Standard refrigerator or Cold Zone of your Summit pantry fridge1 to 2 weeksKeep whole and store in a plastic bag to prolong its freshness

NOTE: The information contained in this section was researched from numerous sources and offers the general consensus of recommendations for proper produce storage. We understand there are additional methods you might prefer or already utilize. The information is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive.