Fresh Produce Storage Chart
|Apricots, peaches, nectarines||3 to 4 days||Sliced , lemon juice & sugar, 2 months|
|Berries, cherries||1- 2 days||4 months|
|Melons||3 to 4 days||
|Papaya, mango||1 week||Don't freeze|
|Pears, plums||3 to 4 days||Don't freeze|
|Asparagus||3- 4 days||8 months|
|Beans, green||3- 4days||8 months|
|Carrots||2 weeks||10- 12 months|
|Celery||1- 2 weeks||10- 12 months|
|Lettuce, leaf||3- 7 days||Don't freeze|
|Mushrooms||2- 3 days||10- 12 months|
|Onions, dry||2 months||10- 12 months|
|Onions, green||1- 2 weeks||10- 12 months|
|Peppers||4- 5 days||6- 8 months|
|Spinach||1- 2 days||10- 12 months|
|Squash, summer||4- 5 days||10- 12 months|
|Tomatoes||2- 3 days||2 months|
Please Note: Storage times are from date of purchase.
If products bear a use-by date, observe it.
It is not important if a date expires after food is frozen.
The selection in your supermarket's produce department continues to expand rapidly as new value-added and exotic fruits and vegetables become available. Your supermarket maintains rigid quality assurance and sanitation standards to ensure that you always receive fresh, wholesome produce. Once you purchase the food, though, it's up to you to take care of it. This is important, especially because of the large number of foodborne illnesses caused by improper handling of foods in the home.
What is organic Produce?
Some states have programs in place to certify that produce have been raised organically, that is, without the use of synthetically produced pesticides. Crop rotation, integrated pest management (using "good" bugs to destroy "bad" bugs), and enriching the soil with grass or other natural fertilizers are some methods used to grow crops. The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service is currently developing criteria for a national organic standards program.
Why are pesticides used?
Pesticides protect crops from destruction and increase yields by controlling plant diseases, weeds, fungi (mold) and other pests. When needed, pesticides are normally applied to crops as a spray, fog or dust. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the manufac- turing, labeling and use of all pesticides, and it sets residue limits for the harvested crops.
Imported vs. Domestic
Imported foods must meet the same standards as domestic foods. Sophisticated testing methods are used to detect very low pesticide residues levels. Testing indicates that there is no significant difference between the level of residues found on domestic and imported foods.
What is "Waxing"?
Some produce items such as apples, citrus fruit, cucumbers, bell peppers and rutabagas have a thin coating of wax to seal in moisture. Without this coating - which is a food-grade edible wax, many fruits and vegetables would shrivel or rot before reaching the supermarket. It is perfectly safe to consume the coated peel.
How should you store produce?
- Some vegetables and fruits such as apples, berries, grapes, broccoli, lettuce and mushrooms - to name a few - need to be stored in refrigerated cases.
- Other vegetables and fruits - such as avocados, bananas, dry onions and potatoes - are displayed at room temperature.
- When fruits and vegetables are stored at an inappropriate temperature, ripening may be slowed or even stopped, and already ripened produce can deteriorate rapidly.
- DO NOT WASH fruits and vegetables before storing them in the refrigerator. Moisture can cause them to mold and rot.
- Naturally occurring enzymes trigger chemical changes during storage which cause vegetables to turn an off color, sprout, toughen and eventually mold or rot. Cooling vegetables curbs the enzymes that cause these changes.
- Handle produce gently. Any cut or bruise allows microbes to multiply and hastens decay.
- To freeze vegetables successfully, you must "blanch" - partially cook them for a few minutes, either in boiling water or in a microwave oven - to inactivate spoilage enzymes which can cause deterioration even after freezing.
- Delicate fruits can be frozen packed in sugar or sugar syrup.
- Raw fruits are safe at room temperature, but after ripening, they will mold and rot quickly. For best quality, store ripe fruit in the refrigerator, or prepare for freezing. Cut fruit should be refrigerated within two hours.
- Some dense raw vegetables such as potatoes and onions can be stored at cool room temperatures. Refrigerate other raw vegetables for optimum quality and to prevent rotting. After cooking , all vegetables must be refrigerated or frozen within two hours.