You’ve just arrived home from the farmers market or grocery store laden with bags full of plump blueberries, juicy peaches and bright leafy greens, ready to be made into fantastic meals. Keep your bounty fresh with our handy food storage guide.
We’ll outline the shelf life of common fruits and vegetables so you can smartly plan meals to eat your most fragile foods first. (No more finding slimy lettuce in the crisper drawer at the end of the week!) We’ll also share storage tips to help preserve your food longer and in its best condition. Finally, we share signs that your food is at peak ripeness so you can enjoy that fleeting summer peach or crispy winter cauliflower at its glory.
|Produce||How Long It Lasts||You’ll Know It’s Ready to Eat When…|
|Apples||4-8 weeks in the fridge||It’s OK if your apple has a few brown spots. Those can be cut away. But if it looks wrinkled or feels mushy, it’s time to toss.|
|Avocado||4-7 days at room temperature||Peel off the stem. If the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe. It’ll also give in to light pressure when squeezed.|
|Bananas||2-5 days at room temperature||Bananas are best when they’re yellow and have just started to develop brown spots. A ripe banana will be easy to peel.|
|Blueberries||1-2 weeks in the fridge||Most blueberries you get at the store will be ready to gobble down. They’ll have a blue-gray color. If they start to feel moist or look moldy, it’s time to toss.|
|Broccoli||7-14 days in the fridge||Your broccoli should have a rich, green color. It’s best to eat when the stems feel firm, not limp.|
|Carrots||3-4 weeks in the fridge||Carrots are past their prime when they feel limp or have developed a white, grainy look. If you bought carrots with their greens on, it’s best to cut the greens off and store separately.|
|Cucumbers||1 week in the fridge||Your cucumber should have a bright and even green color throughout. Discard if it has any sunken areas, is yellow or has wrinkly skin.|
|Garlic||3-6 months at room temperature||Garlic in its prime will feel firm and have an off-white color. If it’s grown any sprouts, peel them away before cooking. Pass up garlic that has turned tan or looks wrinkly.|
|Iceberg and romaine lettuce||7-10 days in the fridge||If your greens look discolored, feel soggy or have a rotten smell, it’s time to discard.|
|Lemons||3-4 weeks in the fridge||Healthy lemons will be bright yellow and slightly firm to the touch. It’s overripe if it has soft spots, dark blotches or is oozing juice.|
|Onions||2-3 months at room temperature||A good onion will look clean and feel firm. Moisture and soft spots can be a sign it’s gone bad.|
|Oranges||3-4 weeks in the fridge||Juicy oranges will look bright and feel slightly firm to the touch. Check to see that there are no soft spots.|
|Peaches||1-3 days at room temperature||Ripe peaches will have a deep golden color. They’ll also wrinkle slightly around the stem and give in a bit when gently squeezed.|
|Potatoes||3-5 weeks in the pantry||A good potato will feel firm and smell like earth. It’s OK if it has small sprouts, but if the sprouts are longer than a few centimeters, your potato may have gone bad.|
|Strawberries||3-7 days in the fridge||Fragrant and bright strawberries are the best to eat. Discard if there is any sign of mold.|
|String beans||3-5 days in the fridge||The beans should be slender and firm without any visible seeds. You’ll know they’ve gone bad if they’ve turned limp or moist.|
|Tomatoes||1 week at room temperature||Ready-to-eat tomatoes will feel firm when slightly squeezed and seem slightly heavy compared with their size.|
|Watermelon||7 to 10 days at room temperature||Tap on the side. If the melon sounds hollow, it’s good to eat. Also, it should feel firm when pressed but not hard as a rock.|
|Whole mushrooms||7-10 days in the fridge||If the mushroom feels sticky or slimy, it’s bad. Whole mushrooms will keep longer than sliced mushrooms.|
|Zucchini||4-5 days in the fridge||Your summer squash should be firm yet slightly flexible and have glossy skin. If the zucchini looks gray, it may be overly ripe.|
No matter what-or when-you decide to cook, it’s best to err on the conservative side when judging whether food is safe. Trust your instincts. If something looks or smells off, your best bet is to toss (or compost).