Food Q&A: Keeping Veggies Fresh

This week: How can I keep my celery crisp and my broccoli from molding?
Food Question and answers Keeping Veggies Fresh

Need ideas for coping with restaurant buffets? Want some good snack ideas? In our Q&A series, WeightWatchers.com nutritionist and food editor Leslie Fink, MS, RD, answers readers' questions about food, nutrition and weight loss.


Q: I don't know how to store fresh vegetables in the fridge. Do I take them out of their plastic bags? Is there anything special I should do before putting them in the fridge? How long can I expect them to last?

A: Although the best storage methods for fresh vegetables can vary within each vegetable category (green onions differ from Spanish onions, for example), here's a list with some basic guidelines. A few overall points to keep in mind first, though:

  • Refrigeration can damage some vegetables (such as potatoes), yielding an off-flavor or mushy texture.

  • Keep vegetables that are not stored in the refrigerator (such as potatoes and onions) away from heat sources and out of sunlight.

  • Some vegetables (like eggplants) can be left on the counter to ripen and then refrigerated to extend their lifespan.

  • When storing vegetabes in plastic bags, make sure to poke some holes in the bag to allow for proper air circulation. Or buy perforated plastic vegetable bags.

  • Keep vegetables and fruits in separate produce drawers because some fruits, such as apples and pears, produce a substance called ethylene that hastens ripening of other produce.

  • Do not store potatoes and onions together because they each give off gases that can cause the rapid decay of the other.

  • Although some vegetables can last for long periods of time when properly stored, try to use them sooner, rather than later, for optimal flavor and nutrient value.

  • Add crispness back to limp vegetables like celery and asparagus by placing them stem-side down in a small amount of water; refrigerate until crisp.

  • Last but not least, do not wash vegetables until you're ready to eat them!
Vegetable Storage Tips
Artichoke Refrigerator life: 4 to 5 days. Add a few drops of water to a plastic bag.
Asparagus Refrigerator life: 4 to 5 days. Wrap stalk bottoms in a damp paper towel and place in a loosely closed plastic bag.
Broccoli Refrigerator life: 4 days. Store in an open plastic bag.
Cabbage, Whole Refrigerator life: 1 to 2 weeks in a plastic bag.
Cabbage, Cut Refrigerator life: 1 to 2 days if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
Carrots Refrigerator life: Very variable. Store in their original plastic bag.
Cauliflower, Whole Refrigerator life: Up to 5 days. Store stem-side up in a plastic bag.
Celery Refrigerator life: Up to 2 weeks. Store in a plastic bag.
Cucumber Refrigerator life: 1 week if waxed; less if not waxed.
Eggplant Refrigerator life: 3 to 4 days. Store in a plastic bag.
Garlic Shelf life: A few weeks to a few months, depending on size. Store in a dark, cool spot.
Green beans Refrigerator life: 3 to 5 days. Store in a plastic bag.
Leafy Vegetables Refrigerator life: 3 to 5 days. Wrap in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag.
Leeks Refrigerator life: Up to 1 week. Loosely wrap in a plastic bag.
Lettuce Refrigerator life: Varies greatly by type. Leave in plastic bags.
Mushrooms Refrigerator life: Varies greatly by type. Store in a loosely closed paper bag on a refrigerator shelf and not in the produce drawer.
Onions, Whole Shelf life: 3 to 4 weeks. Store in a cool, dry, open space.
Onions, Cut Refrigerator life: 2 to 3 days if tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Peas Refrigerator life: 1 to 2 days. Store in a plastic bag.
Peppers Refrigerator life: Up to 1 week. Store in a plastic bag.
Potatoes, New Shelf life: 1 week. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Potatoes, all-purpose and baking Shelf life: Up to 2 months. Store in a cool, dark, dry place in a burlap, brown paper or perforated plastic bag.
Pumpkin Shelf life: Up to 1 month in a cool, dry place.
Scallions (green onions) Refrigerator life: Up to 3 days. Store in a plastic bag.
Squash (Winter), whole Shelf life: Up to 3 months. Store in a cool, dry place.
Squash (Winter), cut Refrigerator life: Up to 1 week if wrapped tightly in plastic.
Squash (Summer) Refrigerator life: Up to 1 week. Store in a plastic bag.
Sweet Potatoes Shelf life: Up to 1 month if stored in a cool, dry place; up to 1 week if stored at room temperature.
Tomatoes Shelf life: Up to 2 days once fully ripe. Store at room temperature for the best flavor.

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