Increase The Shelf Life of Your Fruit & Veg..Without Using Toxic Plastic Products

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater.

But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat?

Would you like to increase the shelf life of your fruits and veggies without having to use toxic plastic products that harm both the environment and you?

In today’s economy you can’t waste money on food that will rot the day after you bring it home.

Plastic food wraps and their negative effects on the environment and human health.

    • PVC: Some food cling wraps (especiallyused at the deli counter) are polyvinylchloride (PVC), which is not only very environmentally toxic, it’s also laced with phthalates. Source
    • BPA and phthalates: BPA and phthalates have been found in several types of plastic food containers and storage bags, increasing the possibility that you absorb them by storing food in plastics. Source
  • Wildlife hazard: Film plastics like bags and cling wraps pollute landscapes and oceans where they pose choking, suffocating, intestinal blockage threats to wildlife. They also add to the great Pacific Ocean plastic island where they wrap around coral, killing these vital organisms.Source
  • Nonrenewable: Whether it’s made from #3 PVC or #4 LDPE or low-density polyethylene (another common material used to make plastic wrap products), these plastics are derived from petroleum, making them inherently non-renewable.
  • Non-recyclable: Although it is technically possible to recycle these plastics, most curbside recycling programs will not accept plastic wraps. Learn more about recycling soft plastics.


These tips are from the Berkley Farmer’s Market which is a Zero Waste market! Here is a printable PDF of their original tip sheet.

Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe.

Artichokes – Place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus – Place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
Avocados – Place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening, place an apple in the bag with them.
Arugula – Like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Basil – Is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside, left out on a cool counter.
Beans – Shelling open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
Beets – Cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Beet greens – Place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
Broccoli – Place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Broccoli Rabe – Left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.
Brussels Sprouts – If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage – Left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to loose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.
Carrots – Cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
Cauliflower – Will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery – Does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter.
Celery root/Celeriac – Wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn – Leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner then later for maximum flavor.
Cucumber – Wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.

Eggplant – Does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage, place loose, in the crisper.
Fava beans – Place in an air tight container.
Fennel – If used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
Garlic – Store in a cool, dark, place.
Green garlic – An airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.
Greens – Remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air-tight container with a damp cloth, to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans – They like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Green Tomatoes – Store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
Herbs– A closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Lettuce – Keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.
Leeks – Leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
Okra – Doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
Onion – Store in a cool, dark and dry place, good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.
Parsnips – An open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
Potatoes – Like garlic and onions, store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Radicchio – Place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.
Radishes – Remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Rhubarb – Wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
Rutabagas – In an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.
Snap peas – Refrigerate in an open container
Spinach – Store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
Spring onions – Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.
Summer Squash – does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
Sweet peppers – Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
Sweet Potatoes – Store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Never refrigerate sweet potatoes they don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes – Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Turnips – Remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
Winter squash – Store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
Zucchini – Does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

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Apples – Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Citrus – Store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air?tight container.
Apricots – On a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
Cherries – Store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.
Berries – Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.
Dates – Dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag? as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
Figs – Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un?stacked.
Melons – Uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.
Nectarines – Similar to apricots, store in the fridge is okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches – And most stone fruit, refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears – Will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Persimmon –Fuyu (shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature. Hachiya (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack?they get very fragile when really ripe.
Pomegranates – Keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
Strawberries – Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.

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  • dee

    There were still no ideas for those air-tight containers, other than plastic. That is what I was looking for more than anything else.

    • Wake Up World

      That is a great point Dee.

      Here is a link to stainless steel containers –

      Hope that this helps 🙂

    • kristine

      i use glass mason jars to store things. they come in sizes from 4 oz. to 1 gallon and can usually be found at a farm supply store.

    • Lorna

      Yes, there is an alternative… canning jars come in all shapes and sizes – small, large, short and fat, tall and skinny… a bit expensive at the start, but last forever.

    • spACE

      Different plastics have different properties and some are FAR more toxic than others. Generally the rule is, the SOFTER the plastic, the more easily it leaches it’s toxins, Cling Film being the absolute worst. Also, as plastic heats up it also releases it’s toxins. Glass containers with silicone lids are awesome. The glass actually HOLDS the temperature (using less ENERGY to keep cold) and the silicone is toxin-free. I hope that helps. ; )

  • Name (required)

    Not very helpful if you live in a very hot enviroment

  • Sandy

    We wash all our fruits and veggies as soon as we bring them home from the store. We use food-grade hydrogen peroxide and filtered water. We let them soak for a few minutes then set them out to dry, storing them only after they’re reasonably dry. The H2O2 kills the fungus and bacteria which cause quick degradation of the produce. Strawberries washed this way last two weeks with no fuzz. They do dry out a bit, becoming less firm, but they still taste great and work well in smoothies even 14 days after purchase.

  • Heather

    Fresh BASIL keeps well in a jar of water – like a vase of flowers. Change the water every 2 days. Should keep for a couple of weeks!

  • Mavrik

    Sandy, What % of H2O2 ? Are you diluting?

  • WE use the 2.5 pH on our Fruit and veggies to kill fungus and bacteria and use the 11.5 Strong Alkaline to remove spray for insects!

  • Goldbug36

    I store all fruits and veggies in Debbie Meyer Green Bags. Things can be stored both in the refrigerator and out. They are made of a MINERAL that absorbs the gases that speed ripening and deterioration. She also makes green boxes that are sturdy and stackable. They prolong the life of fresh bread without having to freeze it. Some veggies, e.g., lettuce, celery, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. will keep for 2-3 weeks to a month. I bought mine on

  • Madame Butterfly

    Great info! Thanks so much…
    I will add that I keep basil (the whole stalk/stem) on the counter in a small cube of oasis floral foam in a dish of water. Pick leaves off as you need them, more will grow. It will eventually root and can be planted if you want to.
    I need a bigger refrigerator for all of these containers…and just got this one!