Will you be visiting your local farmers market this summer? Is your favorite seasonal fruit on sale at the grocery store? There are plenty of wonderful Wisconsin products to pick from at the farmers market and grocery store. After carefully selecting your produce for freshness and texture, get the best use out of them at home.

Correctly storing your fresh produce extends the shelf life of the product, allowing you more time to enjoy your seasonal favorites.  

An estimated 30% of food intended for human consumption is wasted. A large portion of this food waste is fresh fruits and vegetables. Taking special care to properly store produce can help to reduce food waste.

Here are five tips for storing fresh produce.

1. Plan ahead.

When shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, have a plan in mind for consuming them. Maximize the value of your produce by using it in its prime. Hold off on buying the sweet corn until you know you will use it. Pick avocados based on when you will make guacamole.

2. Understand ethylene.

Some fruits and vegetables naturally emit ethylene gas – a hormone that initiates ripening in produce. For example, apples release ethylene, which can cause ethylene sensitive fruits such as strawberries to ripen faster. Try to store ethylene producing produce separately to minimize the effects of ethylene.

Ethylene producersEthylene sensitive
AvocadosUnripe bananas
ApplesBroccoli & cauliflower
PearsLeafy greens
TomatoesBrussel sprouts

Note: Citrus fruits are not sensitive to ethylene and can be stored with ethylene producers if space is tight.

Tip: If you want to ripen your bananas faster, place them next to some apples!

3. Fridge vs. Counter

Refrigeration can cause cold damage and prevent fruits and vegetables from ripening to good flavor and texture. Here’s a list of common farmers market finds and where to store them.

Store in refrigeratorStore at room temperature
BerriesApples (up to 7 days)
AsparagusCitrus fruits
Green beansMelons
Broccoli & cauliflowerCucumber
Sweet cornEggplant
Lettuce & spinachPeppers
PeasPotatoes & onions
Summer squashTomatoes
Cut vegetablesWinter squashes

Note: Produce stored in the refrigerator is best enjoyed within three days of purchase.

Tip: Food stored at room temperature should be kept out of direct sunlight.

4. Cut, peeled and cooked go in the fridge.

Once processed (cut, peeled or cooked), all fruits and vegetables should be stored in the fridge for food safety. You should always store vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry or seafood.

Try cutting your fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ripe and put them in an accessible container in your fridge. They will be easier to enjoy and less likely to be forgotten.

5. Compost

If your fruits or vegetables do spoil, you should discard them. Try composting instead of tossing them in the garbage can – you will save space and emissions at the landfill.

From melons to sweet corn, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy fresh produce purchased in Wisconsin. Visit your local farmers market or neighborhood grocery store to find your favorites! Feel confident in the quality and safety of your food and make the most of your purchase by storing your produce properly.