Storing food and produce

If you are trying to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, or buying from the bulk bins, it is helpful to know how to store all that wonderful fresh food so it doesn’t go bad before you get a chance to eat it. I’ve had several people asking me where I store things like dried beans, flour, and various fresh fruits and vegetables, so I made up a handy little printable chart.

You can download the letter-sized pdf here.

A few notes:

1. I tried to make the list as comprehensive as possible while still fitting on a single sheet of paper – if there’s anything important you think I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll try to add it.

2. Some things can be stored several ways, as a matter of preference. For example, some people prefer to keep tomatoes in the fridge and some like them on the counter – I either went with what I do personally or what I felt was the most common method.

3. A general food storage rule of thumb is to think about where the food was in the grocery store when you bought it – was that avocado in the main part of the store or was it in the refrigerated part of the produce section? This doesn’t work one hundred percent of the time but it’s not a bad guideline for things you’re not sure about.

4. Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, etc.) should be ripened on the counter and then stored in the fridge once they are ripe. If you buy them mostly ripe you can just store them in the fridge right away (which is why they are listed in the “store in the refrigerator” section on the chart).

5. Bread, buns, tortillas and other baked goods can be stored in a cool dry place for about a week – if you won’t eat them within that time, you should keep them in the freezer, where they will last for a few months. (That’s why they are listed in both places on the chart). The fridge isn’t a great compromise because it makes bread go stale faster, but it can make it last a couple extra days in a pinch.

6. Lettuces and leafy greens are probably one of the trickiest things to keep fresh – as a general rule it’s best to only buy as many leafy greens as you can safely eat within 3-4 days. If you need to keep them for longer than that, wrapping them in a dishtowel (or paper towels, but you know how I like my reusable linens) and keeping them in the crisper drawer is the best way to make them last as long as possible. I’ll confess I’m usually too lazy for that step so I just keep them unwrapped in the crisper drawer and try to eat them within a couple of days.

7. Whenever possible, buy grains and seeds whole and grind them just before use (coffee and flaxseed, for example) – if you want to grind your own small seeds you can use a coffee grinder, they are usually pretty inexpensive and do a nice job for small batches. If you prefer to buy things pre-ground be aware that grinding grains, seeds, and nuts makes them go rancid faster (which is why I store flours in the freezer) so try to buy these things in smaller quantities so you can go through them quickly. So if an item is listed as “store in a cool dry place” assume I’m referring to it in its whole, unground form – once you grind it you should use it within a couple days or store it in the freezer.

8. For small foods, like snap peas, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, etc., I recommend getting yourself some breathable fabric bags (I have these ChicoBags, which I like, and these bags look like a nice cost-effective option too) so you don’t have to waste paper bags or leave your food in plastic.

I hope this chart comes in handy to help you figure out how to store all your lovely healthy food!

 

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  1. [...] wondered what the best way to store your produce, spices, flours, dried fruits and nuts, Jessica at Clean Green Simple explains it all. With her handy streamlined chart, she outlines how and where to store just about [...]

  2. [...] a food storage chart for quick reference in your kitchen may come in handy. You can find many variations online, or [...]

  3. [...] some go on the counter or a food storage shelf. There are a number of good produce charts out there http://cleangreensimple.com/2011/05/storing-food-and-produce/. This one from Clean Green Simple is user friendly and can be printed for easy posting in some easy [...]



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