How to handle and storage fresh fruit and vegetables?

  • For a lot of fruit and vegetables refrigeration is vitally important in maintaining freshness and extending ‘storage life’: Oranges and pears will last for up to two weeks longer if kept in the fridge. Peppers and carrots will last for at least a week longer if kept in the fridge.
  • For some bulky vegetables such as onions and potatoes, storage in a cool (15°C) temperature is preferable to a warm (22°C) temperature but refrigeration is unnecessary. However it is vitally important to exclude light from these products to prevent greening / sprouting.
  • Some types of fruit such as bananas or kiwis are injured at refrigerator temperatures and should be stored at cool temperatures.
  • The dryness of the air within refrigerators will encourage the loss of water (transpiration) from fruit and vegetables and can be a major factor in loss of quality and presumably also in product rejection (waste) by consumers. Whilst packaged products are afforded some protection against excessive loss of water those purchased unpacked have no protection.
  • Storing unpacked products therefore in perforated polyethylene bags may be beneficial in conserving water and maintaining freshness. Peppers, carrots and lemons will last for example for at least a week longer if kept in the fridge, but two weeks longer if kept in a bag in the fridge.
  • Many vegetables are sensitive to ethylene, a gas emitted by many fruits and some vegetables. Foods that emit ethylene include apples, avocados, bananas, pears, peaches, plums and tomatoes. Vegetables that absorb ethylene include brassicas, leafy greens, beans, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, peas, peppers, and potatoes. Ethylene triggers the ripening process and exposure to ethylene also causes vegetable deterioration, therefore fruits and vegetables should be stored separately in the refrigerator.