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Store Produce Properly to Prevent Produce Zombies

Halloween is right around the corner, and while Zombie trick-or-treaters may be spooky,  they pale in comparison to zombie ( or rotten) produce in your fridge.

Just like you’d want to avoid a real zombie at all costs, you want to avoid produce zombies at all costs too.

Don’t worry though, here at we have you covered with our Produce Zombie Survival Guide, which is just our fun way of saying that we have a guide that teaches you everything you need to know in order to properly store your produce.

This is not a topic to be underestimated. In my private practice I often encounter clients whose fruit and vegetable intake is compromised because they fear things going bad before they get a chance to eat them, to the point where they don’t bother buying them in the first place.

If this sounds familiar, you will certainly benefit from today’s article.

 Produce Zombie Survival Guide

Part I – Fruit

There are two rules you should know right off the bat when it comes to proper storage of fruit:

  1. When it comes in packaging (as in berries, grapes etc), keep it in its packaging.
  2. When fruit is ripe, refrigerate it in the crisper compartment of your fridge*.

*Fruits such as mango, kiwi, avocado and peaches should generally not be refrigerated until they at the desired ripeness.

Let’s take a closer look at how long commonly available varieties of fruit stay fresh, this should help you plan accordingly.

Fruit Freshness: How Long Will They Last?

A few days

Pineapple, ripe plums/peaches/nectarine,  ripe avocados, strawberries, raspberries.

A week or less

Cherries, mangos, kiwis, pears.

More than a week

Grape fruit, orange, apples, pomegranate , blueberries.

Frozen fruit can last up to a year.

The Ripening Process

Certain commonly purchased fruits like bananas, apples and tomatoes give off ethylene gas which causes other produce nearby to ripen and spoil more quickly. In order to avoid this, don’t store these particular fruits close to fruits that ripen, and store them separately from your vegetables in the fridge. For a more exhaustive list of foods that produce and are sensitive to ethylene and accelerated ripening, take a look at the following.


Part II- Vegetables

Veggies are the most important foods in the human diet, and arguably the most challenging to store.

I commonly encounter clients who scale back vegetable purchasing ( and thus consumption) over concerns over the produce going bad.

This is something I really don’t like to hear, as many Canadians don’t eat anywhere near enough vegetables as it is.

Quick Tips

As a general rule, when you store vegetables in your fridge it makes sense to store them in your crisper and/or keep in the open ended bag you purchase them in. If you have the ability to do so, keep them separate from fruit.

For Leafy Greens –  Rinse and wrap them in a paper towel to help them stay fresh longer

For Root Vegetables – Store them in a cool, dark and dry spot outside of the fridge. Your cellar works.

For Tomatoes – Keep them away from the sunlight to prevent premature or imbalanced ripening.

Among the healthiest vegetables, that also happen to be among the most sensitive when it comes to storage.  You can rinse and wrap them in a paper towel to help them stay fresh longer.

Vegetable Freshness: How Long Will They Last?

A few days

Spinach, squash, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, corn.

1 week or less

Cabbage, cucumber, celery, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms.

1 week or more

Peppers, green onion, beets.

Frozen vegetables last much longer than fresh, and it make senses to keep them on hand as a great back up option in case you run out or run into issues with the produce you have on hand.

You should generally purchase vegetables with the intention of eating them soon after they make it back to your fridge. If this isn’t possible, then you can always blanch and freeze them for prolonged storage.

If you like to chop your fruits or veggies and store them that way, be sure to keep them in a sealed glass or plastic container.

Final Thoughts

Produce Zombies are no joke and I sincerely hope you enjoyed our Halloween-themed approach to educating you guys on properly storing your fruits and veggies.  A spooky seasonal cake should be the only scary thing in your fridge this October!

Andy is a Toronto-based registered dietitian and nutrition writer who holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition. You can learn more about Andy and his services at



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