Stock Your Kitchen with These 14 Long-Lasting Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Maybe you're limiting trips to the supermarket or trying to stock up so you can shop less often, but that doesn't mean you should forego fresh fruits and veggies. Pantry meals and those built around frozen ingredients are extremely handy to have in your back pocket, but why limit yourself?
Some produce only lasts a day or two—we're looking at you, raspberries. However, if stored properly, a surprising number of our favorites keep for far longer. In fact, if you're smart about what you buy and how you store it, it's easy to enjoy meals packed with fresh produce. And this means fewer trips to the market and less tossing of past-its-prime produce, saving you time and money.
No matter what you purchase, remember that nicks and bruises shorten shelf life, so handle fruits and veggies with care. In most cases, wait to wash produce until you're ready to use it, as moisture can lead to mold. And, keep the refrigerator door closed to maintain its low temp, or consider keeping fruits and veggies in a secondary fridge you open less often.
Read on for 14 long-lasting fruits and veggies, plus how to store them and recipes to make them shine.
This convenient, versatile and affordable fruit can last for up to two months in the refrigerator. To maximize shelf life, place apples in an unsealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Apples release ethylene gas, which can speed up the ripening of other produce, so store them separately.
Sweet, earthy beets can keep for up to three months. Avoid beets with wilted greens, which can be a sign of age. At home, cut off and reserve any greens—they can used in place of spinach in salads or sautés—but leave an inch or so of the stems attached. Store beets in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.
This versatile veggie can be steamed, sautéed or stir-fried, as well as roasted, stuffed and baked, or shredded and enjoyed raw in slaws. Store whole heads in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for up two months; once cut, cabbage needs to be used within a few days.
Recipe to try: Balsamic Roasted Cabbage
Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits add brightness to meals and drinks and can last as long as two months. Store whole citrus loose in the refrigerator crisper. And remember that there's a ton of flavor in the rind, so zest or peel citrus before juicing or eating and use in vinaigrettes, marinades, cookies, pancakes and more—you can even freeze zest for up to three months.
Recipe to try: Cinnamon Oranges
Yellow, white and red onions, along with shallots, can last for weeks and even months if stored unpeeled in a cool, dry place, away from light and with ventilation. Once onions go soft or discolor, they're past their prime. Although they are in the onion family, scallions, leeks and chives have a significantly shorter shelf life.
Recipe to try: Caramelized Balsamic Onions
Like onions, garlic has impressive staying power if stored in a cool, dry place, away from light and with ventilation. Separated unpeeled cloves can last a month or two, while whole bulbs can keep as long as six months. Green sprouts are a sign of age though not harmful—simply remove them—but brown spots or yellowing indicate that garlic has gone bad.
Recipe to try: Garlic Chicken
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes will keep for weeks at room temperature, but in a cool, dark, dry, and ventilated space, they'll last far longer—a month or so for sweet potatoes and up to three months for white potatoes. Store potatoes unpeeled and loose. It's ok to eat potatoes with sprouts—just cut them off—but potatoes that are soft, shriveled, or smell bad should be tossed.
The most common turnips are white with purple tops, but there are other varieties. If you buy them with greens attached, make sure those greens look vibrant and cut them off—they're great in stir-fries—before storing. Store turnips in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer and they'll last about two weeks.
Wait to crack open that pomegranate. While the whole fruit can last as long as two months in the fridge, the seeds will only keep for about a week—they can be frozen for up to three months. Once pomegranates turn brown or soft, they're ready for the compost and when the seeds turn brown, they need to go.
Kept in a breathable bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer, fresh, whole carrots can last four to five weeks. Remove any green tops—use them to make pesto!—as they suck the moisture out of carrots. To extend the life of bagged carrots, place a dry paper towel in the bag to absorb moisture and replace whenever it gets saturated. Note that baby carrots don't last nearly as long as full-size ones.
Recipe to try: Maple Roasted Carrots
Celeriac, AKA celery root, can last for several weeks or even longer if loosely wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. Don't peel or wash celeriac before storing—in fact, any dirt on the root will help keep it fresher longer. Once cut, celeriac can be wrapped and refrigerated for about a week.
Recipe to try: Mashed Celeriac with Herbs
Butternut, spaghetti and other winter squash varieties, including pumpkin, can last up to three months if stored whole in a cool, dry place, away from light and with ventilation—refrigeration tends to change the taste and texture and is best avoided. Check for soft spots and leaking, signs squash has gone bad.
Recipe to try: Roasted Squash & Apples with Dried Cranberries & Pepitas
A cross between cabbage and turnips and sometimes called yellow turnips, rutabagas are typically mashed or roasted and have a mildly sweet flavor and creamy texture. Stored in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge, they can last up to a month.
Most bell peppers have staying power, but green ones tend to last the longest, because they contain less sugar. Store bell peppers in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper and they can last up to three weeks.
Recipe to try: Sautéed Peppers & Onions