Though it’d be nice, there’s no one-size-fits-all storage methodology to maximize the freshness of different fruits. Some need to be cloaked in a cocoon of temperate air; others thrive when they’re stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some care and storage is obvious (don’t leave berries to rot at room temperature), others, less so. If you’ve ever wondered, Can bananas go in the fridge? or Where the heck should I put this cantaloupe? we’ve got you covered.
Think of apples as the lone wolves of the fruit world. Due to the ethylene gas they emit, which hastens ripening and decay, apples should be stored away from other produce whenever possible. They should especially be kept away from bananas and citrus (which also leak ethylene). While they can be stored at room temperature, they’ll last the longest—up to four weeks—when kept in their original packaging and stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
Berries, cherries, and grapes
There’s a reason berry containers all have holes in them. Berries last longest when stored in the refrigerator in bags or containers with small holes (vents) that allow for moisture release. Water can make them rot faster, so be sure to only wash a small quantity right before eating, not in one fell swoop. (The same goes for cherries and grapes.)
Bananas (and kiwis)
Ever wonder why you often see bananas hanging up at the grocery store? It’s for the same reason apples need to be stored alone: The potassium-packing dynamos release ethylene gas which causes them—and everything around them—to ripen faster. In your home, they should be stored away from other fruits—on a “tree hanger” above a fruit bowl is a great option. While according to Dole you can store them in the fridge, you should only do after they are completely ripe (same with kiwis).
Pro tip: The most gas escapes from the top of the banana bunch, so wrap the stems in plastic or aluminum foil to slow the browning.
Have you ever met an avocado that didn’t turn on you—from a green, impenetrable mass one day, to purple-skinned mush (seemingly) the next? Then perhaps you’ve been storing them properly this whole time. Avocados hold up best when they ripen first on the counter, and are then moved to the refrigerator, where they can last up to three days. But Love One Today says they need only be firm, not ripe, to be stored in the cold. Remove them one to two days before eating so they can finish ripening. Once cut, they should be stored with the pit and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
Tomatoes should be kept in a cool dry place with plenty of ventilation and should be washed just before use. Counter tomatoes will last about a week, while refrigerated ones have double that lifespan. (Though some argue whole tomatoes should never go in the refrigerator, as it renders the meat soft and mushy.)
Melons and citrus
Whole melons should be kept at room temperature until they are fully ripe, or sliced—whichever comes first. Once either of those things happens, straight to the cold box they go, preferably in an airtight container.
Citrus does not continue to ripen once it’s picked, so always pick the most fragrant and ready-to-eat looking. Store them at room temperature away from direct sunlight, where they’ll last four to seven days.
Peaches, apricots, and nectarines
Put these all on your mental “Do Not Refrigerate” list. The cold steals moisture from these juicy delights, dehydrating and robbing them of flavor. Keep them out of sunlight on the counter, where they will last about three to five days.
Mangoes, plums, and pears
Mangoes, plums, and pears should be ripened at room temperature (either in a bowl or, if you’re in a rush, in a paper bag) then transferred to the fridge for storage. Peaches and plums can last three to five days in the colder temps; mangoes and pears, five to seven.
Did you know that a pineapple should be stored upside down for a day or two to allow the sweetness to disperse throughout the whole fruit? We didn’t either. Most food experts say this should be done at room temperature before moving the ripened fruit to the refrigerator to delay decay.
When in doubt, freeze
If you won’t be able to eat all your fruit before it goes bad, consider freezing it. De-seed melons before cutting them into slices, cubes or balls. Peel bananas and freeze them whole, or in one-inch chunks on parchment paper. Rinse, drain, and spread berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet to avoid clumping. When frozen, transfer them to labeled plastic bags or containers, where they can stay for up to one year.