Jill SchildhouseUpdated: May 16, 2023
Some foods crave airtight containers, while others need to breathe! Use this guide to proper storage to keep everything in your kitchen crisp and fresh.
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An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but not if it rots before you can enjoy it. Apples can stay at room temperature, but store your apples in the refrigerator crisper drawer, if you want greater longevity. Leaving an apple out at room temperature will cause it to ripen after a few days, but one of the best food storage tips is to pop it into the fridge. This will keep it crisp for weeks. (Just make sure it’s never with any of these foods you should never keep in the fridge.)
If you don’t like the idea of your apples just rolling around in the crisper drawer, contain them—along with all your other fruit and veggies—in BPA-free Debbie Meyer GreenBags. You’ll save money too, because these bags are reusable up to 10 times each.
Flour will stay fresh and usable if it’s in an airtight metal, glass, or plastic container, rather than leaving it in the paper bag packaging from the store. Flour takes a longer time to go bad compared to most foods, but the process will still move faster if it isn’t protected. Whole grain flours are particularly sensitive.
You might want to consider storing whole grain flour in the refrigerator or freezer to slow down the oxidation process further. Since there’s nothing worse than forgetting what’s actually in your nondescript containers, choose a container that comes with a pen and labels like these extra-large, air-tight options from Chef’s Path that have over 10,000 ratings (and 86 percent of them are 5 stars!).
Many people store fruit in the refrigerator—and with apples and some sensitive fruits like raspberries, that may be a good plan, but other fruit needs to ripen on the counter before going in the fridge with other foods. Fruit also should not be stored with vegetables because they can cause each other to deteriorate faster because of the different gases they emit.
Separation here is key, which is why the U-Konserve divided stainless steel container may be best for storing, say, two types of berries. Food storage tips like this will keep your produce fresher for longer.
There’s nothing better than adding fresh herbs to your recipes, but oftentimes only a few sprigs or leaves are needed to complete a dish. What to do with all those leftovers that seem to wilt so quickly? Pop them into a Prepara Herb Savor Pod 2.0, which can give your herbs life for up to three weeks.
Pro tip: reviews call it a “miracle” for asparagus, too, because it helps keep stalks hydrated. Just be sure to change out the water every few days to keep them happy.
Potatoes need to be in a dry, cool, and dark place in order to stay fresh. Potatoes do not do well in the refrigerator, though, as temperatures that are too cold (below 50 degrees) will cause the starch in the potato to convert to sugar. That conversion will make the potatoes taste overly sweet, and will discolor them too.
There’s no cuter way to store your potatoes than in a farmhouse-style metal canister that holds about 9 pounds worth of your favorite tubers and has ventilation holes to keep them fresher longer.
Like potatoes, onions can be a little sensitive. They need to be stored in dry, dark, cool places, but they also need reasonable air circulation to stay fresh. On top of this, onions should not be stored near potatoes, even though both foods need to be stored in similar conditions. Onions and potatoes bring out moisture and gasses in each other, causing them both to ripen faster.
Refrigeration is a good choice to keep onions fresh—and when stored in the fridge, your eyes will tear up less when you chop them. When your recipe only calls for part of an onion, store the rest of it in a Hutzler Onion Saver so it’ll stay fresh and minimize odor in the fridge. One Amazon customer calls it “my favorite stupid thing I’ve ever bought.”
If you’ve purchased fresh meat from the store, few food storage tips are better than just leaving it in its original package. Keep it in its store wrapping and follow the meat storage guidelines as given, because re-wrapping and storing meat actually increases the risk of exposing it to bacteria along the way. If your meat didn’t come with a tray under it, though, put a plate underneath the package to catch any excess moisture.
When it comes to storing deli meat, lean on the Prepworks Deli Prokeeper. This dishwasher-safe container keeps everything from salami to bacon fresher longer thanks to its airtight silicone seal, and you can even use a dry erase marker to track expiration dates.
When lettuce goes bad, it gets slimy, which is wasteful, not to mention gross. To avoid this, do not put your lettuce in a plastic bag. Lettuce needs to be in a perforated bag, or washed correctly and stored in a bowl in the refrigerator or in a paper bag once it’s completely dry.
Even though you see supermarkets spraying their lettuces, the moisture actually ages them faster. To help leafy greens last even longer, slip a Freshpaper food-saver sheet in the bag or right into your crisper drawer. These sheets can help double the life of your produce.
Hard cheeses, like Parmigiano and aged cheddar, need special food storage tips, like not packing them in airtight storage containers. Make sure your hard cheeses are stored in the store wrapping until you use them—don’t repackage—preferably in the cheese drawer of your fridge.
There, they’ll last six months, according to a report by Extension Food Safety Specialists at Oregon State University. (They’ll last up to eight months in the freezer but might get more crumbly.)
Once you’ve broken them out, re-wrap them wax paper or loose plastic (here’s why you should never wrap leftovers in foil) when putting them back in the refrigerator. Bee’s Wrap is a solution many home chefs rely on because these beeswax food wraps are reusable, responsibly sourced, made in the USA, and free of plastics and silicones.
Despite popular belief, uncooked pasta should not be stored in its original container if you want it to last longer. Repackage uncooked pasta in an airtight glass container to extend its life and avoid the mustiness and moisture problems that sometimes occur over time with original cardboard packaging.
This set of three tall, glass pasta containers have airtight seals to keep moisture out and are dishwasher safe except for the wooden lid. They can also be used to store dry beans, oats, nuts, and other pantry items.
Tomatoes are another sensitive food that can be tricky to store. A few food storage tips: They should be left on a countertop, but away from light, moisture, and heat. They should not be stored in the refrigerator, or their cellular structure will start to collapse, which is what causes that mushy, mealy texture—and the flavor will be lost too.
Tomatoes will ripen at room temperature and are good for two to three days once ripe. However, the rules change once you’ve sliced them open: Place chopped tomatoes into a silicone Stasher bag and refrigerate them within two hours (and eat within two days).
Bread can be stored in the pantry, but it will last much longer when it’s stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Fresh bread can get moldy quickly, so utilizing the cold storage areas of your house can help extend its shelf life substantially, though it may get stale faster, according to the Oregon State University report mentioned above.
In that case, simply pop it in the oven or toaster to restore crispness. Bread is fine to use in a toaster oven directly from a freezer without any risk of sogginess.
Storing bread for longer also helps you get more resistant starch in your diet, which is the “good carb” you need to eat more. And if you like to bake your own breads, an unbleached linen bread bag is a sustainable and rustic-chic way to store your fresh loaves. You can remove your store-bought loaves from their plastic and place them in these, too.
Originally Published: January 08, 2019
As an editor at large for The Healthy, Jill Schildhouse is an expert in health and wellness, beauty, consumer products and product reviews, travel, and personal finance. She has spent the last 20 years as an award-winning lifestyle writer and editor for a variety of national print and digital publications.
Apples are safe at room temperature, but their higher ethylene content contributes to faster ripening. Apples stored in the refrigerator can last for several weeks. Cut produce is more susceptible to pathogens, so storing in the refrigerator can limit pathogen growth.How do you store different foods? ›
- Keep high-risk food at 5 °C or below or above 60 °C to avoid the temperature danger zone and food poisoning.
- Store raw foods below cooked foods.
- Store food in suitable, covered containers.
- Avoid refreezing thawed foods.
- Check and observe the use-by dates on food products.
And here's the other thing to know: The refrigerator is not great for tomatoes—it can degrade their texture and dampen their flavor—but it's far more harmful to lower-quality and underripe tomatoes than it is to truly ripe, delicious ones.Should you refrigerate peanut butter? ›
An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur.What foods should not be refrigerated? ›
- Bread. Unless you prefer stale, dried-out slices on your favorite sandwich, stash loaves of bread in the pantry.
- Oil. Much like honey, vegetable, olive, coconut, and other cooking oils will quickly solidify in the fridge. ...
- Melons. ...
- Avocado. ...
- Onions. ...
- Potatoes. ...
We recommend that you keep your fresh, raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, which usually offers ideal temperatures. Make sure to keep your cooked meat and any warm foods you're putting into the fridge to cool down far away from the raw beef.How do you store chicken in the fridge? ›
Store fresh, uncooked chicken on a low shelf of the refrigerator so it does not drip onto other items. For convenience and to prevent freezer burn, wrap separate pieces in foil or plastic bags. Then place all wrapped or bagged pieces into a larger freezer bag or foil wrap.Should you refrigerate eggs? ›
Do Fresh Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.Should I refrigerate ketchup? ›
Ketchup is said to be shelf stable
However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product, like any processed food, be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration will maintain the best product quality after opening" (via Today).
Store whole eggs in a cool dry place, ideally in the fridge, until you use them. Storing eggs at a constant cool temperature will help to keep them safe. Do not use eggs after their 'best before' date. Make sure you rotate stock and use the oldest eggs first.
So while Dijon mustard won't necessary spoil at room temperature, you'll get more bang for your buck by keeping it in the fridge after it's opened.Should you refrigerate bread? ›
*Never keep your bread in the fridge. The starch molecules in bread recrystallize very quickly at cool temperatures, and cause the bread to stale much faster when refrigerated. *Shop-bought loaves should be kept in an air-tight plastic bag at room temperature rather than in the fridge.Should I refrigerate nuts? ›
Nuts. Nuts' fragile unsaturated fats can go rancid quickly. While that may not hurt your health, it can definitely be bad news for flavor. Keep nuts tasting fresh by stowing them in a sealed plastic or glass container in the refrigerator for four to six months.What two foods never spoil? ›
- Honey. Thanks to the magic handiwork of bees (they have special enzymes that basically inhibit bacterial growth) and the way it's processed for storage, honey is the longest lasting of the bunch. ...
- Rice. ...
- Instant Coffee. ...
- White Vinegar. ...
- Vanilla Extract. ...
- Salt. ...
- Dried Beans. ...
Common condiments that don't require refrigeration include soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, honey and hot sauce. Feingold says vinegars and olive oil (stored in a cool, dark place) are pantry-bound; coconut oil is actually best kept out of the fridge since it hardens below room temperature.What are three foods that spoil quickly when they are left at room temperature? ›
- Berries. Once a berry is plucked from its stem an unseen timer starts to go off — the countdown to their spoiling. ...
- Avocados. ...
- Kale. ...
- Hummus. ...
- Cooked Grains. ...
- Yogurt. ...
- Fish. ...
- Cooked Vegetables.
Refrigerator Storage: Refrigerate eggs at 40°F or less. Store them in their original carton on an inside shelf and away from pungent foods. The temperature on an inside shelf remains more constant than one on the door, which is opened and closed frequently.What should go on the top shelf of the fridge? ›
Top Shelf: Ready-to-eat foods, such as leftovers, ready meals, deli cooked meats, and sandwiches, should go on the upper shelves so they are the furthest away from the bacteria of the raw foods on the lower shelves. Middle Shelf: Next, dairy and eggs should go in the middle shelf.Is 2 year old frozen chicken still good? ›
If kept frozen continuously, chicken will be safe indefinitely, so after freezing, it's not important if any package dates expire. For best quality, taste and texture, keep whole raw chicken in the freezer up to one year; parts, 9 months; and giblets or ground chicken, 3 to 4 months.Can I eat 5 day old chicken? ›
The USDA says that chicken is safe for up to four days in the fridge before you need to throw it out. If you're on day five, it's time to toss it.
Washing or rinsing chicken increases risk.
Salmonella, Campylobacter and other harmful bacteria live on raw chicken. Washing or rinsing doesn't remove this risk, it worsens it by helping the bacteria spread. When you add water through washing or rinsing, you give these bacteria a way to travel throughout your kitchen.
At room temperature, apples will last about 5 to 7 days. Beyond that they begin to degrade in quality and nutritional content. They begin to lose their flavor and freshness and either shrivel or get mushy. Once that happens, most people would rather toss them than eat them.What is the best way to store apples? ›
Keep them cool
The ideal storage temperature is 30 to 35 degrees F. with 90 to 95 percent relative humidity. If you don't have a lot of apples, the refrigerator is a good option. Place them in the crisper drawer in a plastic bag with holes in it or cover the apples with a damp paper towel.
Fruits That Should Not Be Stored in the Refrigerator
Apricots, Asian pears, avocado, bananas, guava, kiwis, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, pawpaw, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plantain, plums, starfruit, soursop, and quince will continue to ripen if left out on the counter.
Apples, Pears: You can refrigerate these fruits, but you don't need to. The cold air inside the refrigerator tends to break down their crisp texture. Leave them out on the counter. But if you prefer your fruit cold, go ahead and refrigerate.Should you refrigerate tomatoes? ›
Go ahead and refrigerate ripe tomatoes.
Put both cut and whole ripe tomatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life.
Grab & Go Tips. Grapes in clamshells and other containers should always be refrigerated. When grapes are refrigerated on display and not over-stacked, they can be displayed for up to 72 hours before visible shrink occurs.Do eggs need to be refrigerated? ›
Do Fresh Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.What not to store apples with? ›
For this reason, he suggests keeping apples and carrots away from each other, adding that cabbage, figs and onions can also absorb an apple's odor. “The closer and more enclosed the fresh produce is, the more chance for odors to intermix,” he adds.Do you put oranges in the fridge? ›
Ripen fruit at room temperature. Once they are ripe, refrigerate. Apples, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, tangerines and watermelon are received ripe and should be refrigerated.
Store Grapes In the Fridge
Your refrigerator is the best place to keep fresh grapes. They thrive at about 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit with 90-95% humidity, so go ahead and throw them in the back of your crisper drawer (it's usually the coldest place in the fridge).
Ketchup is said to be shelf stable
However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product, like any processed food, be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration will maintain the best product quality after opening" (via Today). These instructions appear simple.
Shellfish, eggs, soups, and stews
Eggs are another higher risk food, as they could transmit the bacterium Salmonella. Shelled hard-boiled eggs should be consumed within 7 days of being cooked and refrigerated ( 5 ).
- Garlic scapes.
- Winter squash: acorn, butternut, delicata, and kabocha.
- Fresh herbs: parsley, mint, and basil*
Apple skin supplies the majority of healthy phytochemicals and fiber, so it is not best to remove it.Which produce should not be stored together? ›
"In general, don't store ethylene-sensitive fruits or vegetables with fruits or vegetables that produce a high amount of ethylene gasses," says John Adler, the vice president of culinary at Blue Apron. "Probably the best example of this is storing onions with apples—you will end up with onion-scented apples!Should I refrigerate lemons? ›
Storing lemons in the fridge is a great way to extend their shelf life. And if you want to keep lemons fresh for longer than a week, you'll definitely want to refrigerate them.